This article was specifically written for the site: http://abiggerlife.com/ by Saleem Juma aka Trackrunner12.
So you’ve got your surgery scheduled, you’re probably either A. terrified or B. really excited (more likely a combination of the two). You’ve gone through the ropes with the Stoma nurse, you’ve practiced changing a fake bag; and now you’re finally ready TO NOT BE SICK ANYMORE! What the heck do you bring to the hospital? How long will you be in there anyway? The answer to this question is it really depends, sometimes people are in the hospital for a week, sometimes they’re in there for a month; it simply depends on how your surgery goes and how fast your body adapts to the recovery process.
My stay in the hospital was about two weeks, to be honest I didn’t know it would be that long; my surgery itself ended up being about 18 hours all together (big shout out to my main man Shawn and his family for staying the entire way through with my parents).
Here is a list of things that got me through the two weeks:
- Cell Phone: (preferably a smart phone), the hospital I was at had free WIFI; I don’t know if all hospitals have that but it was dead useful for not only keeping me entertained but keeping in contact with my many friends who wanted to visit me (and scheduling all of them around my walks with the nurses). This is probably going to be your lifeline to the outside world so don’t forget it! (As well as a charger for it of course).
- IPAD/Tablet: This is helpful for watching Netflix/Youtube and things like that, I highly suggest access to a Netflix account or Hulu/HBO GO (any kind of streaming service; Netflix especially will help you pass quite a bit of time quickly going through all the series of shows (for me it was “Supernatural”, “Walking Dead”, “Parks and Rec” and “Greek”). Protip: if you don’t have access to one of these accounts, ask one of your mates to borrow theirs for the hospital stay! My buddies let me use theirs (as I didn’t have HBO GO, just Netflix).
- Laptop/Writing Utencils/Journaling Book: It really helps to focus on work while you’re in the hospital (especially if you’re an entrepreneur like me), I hate having to sit around unproductively and these things will help you plan out and brainstorm your ideas! Protip: Recheck your ideas after a Morphine dose, what you think is a good idea when you’re high may not necessarily be a good idea when you’re sober and can think straight.
- Nintendo DS/Gaming Platform: Ok so not gonna lie I beat Pokemon Black while I was in the hospital, again things that are repetitive like that really help pass the time.
- Visitors: Not exactly something you can bring to the hospital with you, but what you can do instead is “Pre-Prep” your friends, that means letting them know all the info you have beforehand so they’ll know how to not only get in contact but may even be able to surprise you. I woke up to an old friend in the hospital visiting me, I hadn’t seen her in awhile and it was pretty awesome! Protip: Post all over Social Media; Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook/ Twitter etc. It really helps to get all your friends in there (I only used Snapchat and Facebook while I was in there but I wish I’d had the other stuff too, especially to help document my journey).
- Start a Blog: Detail your journey through surgery and the recovery process, not only will you be able to look back on it with fond (or not so fond) memories but it really helps your psyche when you can actually see on paper your recovery process and how much stronger you get everyday!
- Books: Yes yes, I’m aware “nobody reads books” anymore (just a millennial joke people, don’t bite my head off). Books can save you if you lose power for your gadgets or as my Poli Sci Professor put it “Just don’t want to stare at a screen anymore”. You can finish quite a few in the hospital (and I did).
- Shaving Razors/Hygiene Supplies/Toothbrush and Toothpaste: The hospital will supply some stuff but it’s always better to get your own, if you are still weak from surgery ask someone else to shave your beard for you (guys). Protip: Get a haircut before surgery! If you don’t know how long you’ll be in there it can be quite irritating to have your hair grow out all crazy!
I really hope this helps anyone who’s walking into surgery and doesn’t know what to bring; more importantly I want you to know that you’ve got an entire community out there that stands with you :D. I’m personally here for you as well if you ever need to talk!