If your surgery is planned and you have time to pack your own hospital bag, there are a few things I would include in my must pack list, as well as a few must haves for when you get home following the early days out of hospital.
You will have a lot of time on your hands, and whilst you will probably be sleeping a fair bit, I made sure I had plenty of other things to keep me busy (there is only so much daytime TV you can watch before going mad!!).
What to pack?
Things to keep you busy
- Laptop or tablet with a hard drive of tv shows and movies
- Mobile phone to keep in touch with family/friends and up to date with social media!
- Hopefully your hospital has Wifi and make sure you pack phone/computer chargers!
- Ipod with your favourite tunes
- Several good books / novels / magazines
- Crossword or puzzle books (like Sudoku)
- My mum even brought in a few jigsaw puzzles and tried teaching me how to knit (I was hopeless)!
- Pack of playing cards (I spent hours playing cards with my regular visitors!)
- A notepad or diary (for writing down any questions you think of for your doctor, and for noting down your thoughts)
Things to keep you comfortable
- Comfy tracksuit pants and loose t-shirts
- Bed socks (your hospital should also give you compression stockings to reduce blood clotting risk)
- Slippers (I tried to walk around as much as I could once I had the all clear from my doctor and nurses, walking laps and laps of the hospital corridors in my slippers)
- A nice throw rug or dressing gown
- Respectable pair of PJs!
- A nice moisturising skin / body cream (nice little morning ritual, made me smell and feel good!)
- Don’t forget your regular medications or vitamins (the hospital will provide pain relief, but generally it’s expected that you would bring any other medications from home for the hospital to then administer)
- Nights in hospitals can get lonely so it’s nice to have a few reminders of home. I was 33 years old when I had surgery but I still took Raggy bear and Ellie to keep me company
- Photographs of friends or family or letters/cards from home are also nice to have by your hospital bed 🙂
- Lavender spray – my mum gave me lavender spray to use on my pillow – it helped me relax and sleep better.
Shopping list for once you’re home
- Water bottle to keep with you everywhere – it’s important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated (this is something you’re going to need to get used to as an ostomate)
- Food – after hospital food, you’ll probably want to rush out and have your favourite meal, but be careful! You don’t want a blockage and to end up right back in hospital! A dietician or stoma nurse should have guided you through foods to avoid for the first 6-8 weeks after surgery, so ask your family to stock up on foods that are easy to digest and won’t cause blockages (which I am sure will include a few of your favourites!).
- Foods to help thicken your output might come in handy (my personal preferences are marshmallows, pretzels and yoghurt)
- Ensure your stoma nurse sends you home with plenty of ostomy supplies and instructions on how to go about organising more.
- A phone number or contact for any questions/concerns (you should be scheduled for follow up appointments with your surgeon and stoma nurse)
- You’re likely to have several weeks at home before returning to work, so you’ll still want things to keep you busy – a streaming TV subscription is nice (I basically watched the entire 8 seasons of Dexter back to back on Netflix!)
Hopefully within no time you will be back to getting out and about and will be out of the house enjoying life again as I am now!