I met a lovely woman in one of my support groups. She was just diagnosed with brain mets, which is why I reached out to her, her craniotomy surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. So I paid it forward and asked her what she planned to take to the hospital with her. I then proceeded to share my “recent” experience.
- This isn’t a a 5-star stay; the accommodations are focused on health care, not the experience. Just a polite reminder.
- Bring with you a list of your medications and vitamins, you will be asked what you’re taking (and this means prescriptions, over the counter stuff and all vitamins, herbs and supplements). I brought my prescriptions with me and I’m glad I did as I was asked a couple times to take one of my own supply.
- Know your allergies and what symptoms happen when you have a reaction.
- Bring ID with you (DL and health card) as well as some cash (in case you want to/are able to go down to the gifts hop for amusements, or have to pay for a taxi home – don’t bring a wallet, whole purse or credit cards – you want to have these items in a small container where you can “stash” it.
- Leave all jewellery at home – rings, earrings, piercing adornments and necklaces.
- The hospital will provide you with a lovely cool nightgown, so there’s no reason to bring your own sleepwear. Just get used to the fact that you will flash your a** at someone or many different someones. Be good with your own nakedness.
- You’ll be provided a single bed, with a mattress covered in vinyl so as to not have icky stuff spoil it. The best part about the bed is that it’s adjustable for positioning. That’s about it in terms of comfort. Oh and more than likely you’ll have a roommate as a single room is a real luxury and rare.
- Speaking of hair, it will vary between hospital to hospital (or health region to health region), you may end up with a good swath of your head shaved or only the immediate surgical area. Ask about that and be prepared either way. Decide if you want to control the shave by shearing your head in advance or if you’re going to deal with longer hair that will be icky, gunky and downright ugly post surgery. I called my hair “medusa hair” and wished I had known that they wouldn’t be shaving more of my head. I placed a towel on my pillow at home until I could wash my hair and I’m glad I did as I had a lot of transfer to that towel.
- Bring your own soap (mild and unscented is best); usually I’d add about bringing a similar shampoo, but with a craniotomy you won’t need it. Hospital soap can be used as both soap and shampoo, not that you’ll get to shampoo your hair, that’s a few weeks away.
- Bring your own toothbrush and toothpaste. Otherwise your option is a single-use oral sponge swab with solution like mouthwash (meant to refresh and not really clean).
- Bring socks and no-slip slippers. No-slip socks were provided to me when physio came by to get me on my feet and ensure I had no residual issues with balance or paralysis. But if it hadn’t been for my symptoms prior to surgery, I wouldn’t have seen physio at all.
- Bring loose, comfortable clothes (easy to get on and off) with you to change into for when you go home.
- Do you have contact lenses? If yes, do you have backup glasses? It’s better to have glasses than fumble with contacts, cases and solution.
- If a glasses wearer, bring a storage case for them.
- Bring eye drops. Hospitals are notoriously dry and eye drops will help; they won’t be provided to you if you ask, as they’re not considered a necessity.
- Planning to bring your smartphone? Some hospitals may not allow them, but most will, it’s best to ask. If you bring your smartphone with you, take a long charge cord or a small extension cord; your bed will not be near a wall or outlet. I wasn’t prepared and had to ask a few times for help retrieving the charge cord for my phone when I was bed bound.
- If you bring your smartphone, bring earbuds. Be kind to your roommate(s).
- Avail yourself of pain medication. Now is not the time to be stoic, but if you’re concerned, be selective of “when” you ask. And if you have a problem with pain meds, I’m sorry, I have nothing.
- Accept that sleep will be intermittent and interrupted frequently, whether it’s because of your roommate or those fluffing night nurses coming by to do a vitals check or from the general noise of the hospital. If you’re “lucky” enough to have a room right near the nurses desk, you’ll hear shift change and a whole lot of gossip [some things you shouldn’t hear, but hey, whatcha gonna do?]
- Accept that hospital food will suck, it’s not a gourmet kitchen feeding you. If you’re a tea drinker, the tea is about as strong as cricket pee (colour not taste), and if you’re a coffee drinker, the coffee is an affront to taste buds everywhere.
- Honestly, you’re not going to be up for a lot for at least a couple days. A notebook and pen can help pass the time…doodles, recording whatever you hear or think, e.g., lists of things you need to do once sprung, etc. I keep all the tray menus from my meals; no idea why as I tossed them once I got home.
And that my friends is about all that came to mind.
P.S. CT scan on body on July 19 – stable, no new tumours in any area of the body.
Live. Laugh. Thrive.