Your Hospital Stay: Preparing Properly
As a Neurosurgical Anaesthetic Practitioner I don't often get to see the post-operative side to the patient journey. However, I know that while my Neurosurgery Consultants give good pre-operative information to my patients, not all are as thorough when it comes to preparing for a hospital stay.
Utilising my own knowledge and some fantastic online support groups I've devised a list of ways you, or a family member, can prepare for a hospital stay, whether it's surgical or not.
- As much as you are comfortable to do so, inform your family, friends or work about what you're going through, ideally direct them to a charity information page to ease the explanation. Let them know which hospital you'll be in and the duration of the stay. Ideally arrange for someone to check on you!
- If you have children then please contact the school and let them know what is going on. So many measures can be put in place to ensure they're cared for while you're being cared for too.
- If it's in your best interest to do so then consider allocating your power of attorney. Even though I am only 23 years old, this is something I really wanted to have sorted if I was in a vulnerable position.
- Buy a notebook and jot down as many details of your after care that you can. Keep adding tips where necessary. Sometimes it's quite handy to have something to refer back to when you're having a moment!
- Again optional; I wrote down my social media account passwords in a safe book so that my family will be able to access these and should the worst happen, delete them.
- Sort out your money & debts as much as you possibly can. Put your next Credit Card, Bills, Mortgage or Rent onto a direct debit so you won't have to worry about it that month or the one after. Again, let someone close to you know what you're doing just incase.
- You may want to give a friend or family member some cash so that if you cannot get to the shop post-op for something, they can fetch it for you. Most people won't mind doing this as a favour.
- Clean your house or hire a cleaner: I know this sounds silly but when you come home from hospital there's nothing better than knowing the house is as it should be. Make sure you have at least a few towels and bedding sets ready for use.
- Stock up on your consumables: toothpaste, loo roll, pain killers, washing essentials, moisturiser & lip balm, tea bags and long life milk.
- Get a haircut!
- Cook yourself some meals, portion them into tupperware and freeze them. I am working on writing some healthy recipes at the moment but for now just think about veg, fibre and basic meals. If you're anything like me you won't fancy preparing food when you feel rubbish!
- Get outside as much as you can and take in your surroundings, focus on being positive and walk off any nervous or negative energy.
Your hospital bag; The Essentials:
- Remember that hospital is not your cozy home environment that you're used to. You might be sharing a room with patients who are very unwell and nothing like you. It can be lonely, smelly, boring and uncomfortable- but not always.
- Pack for luxury and don't hold back: trust me you will want your own nice products!
- Lip balm and moisturiser- you can get really dry in hospital especially if you're having a procedure as you will have been fasted. If you ask your nurse for a moisturiser it will be very cheap from the stock cupboard; you're better off bringing a nice one from home. Getting too dry can cause sores which will lead to infections.
- Shower caps & wash bag: once again don't rely on the hospital stock, I've had many a shower in the hospital when I've been unexpectedly vomited on and the stuff we have is very substandard! Take your own to indulge in, it's a small moment of luxury once more. Shower caps will protect your wound. Don't forget your hairbrush, hair ties and even products as it may make you feel better to style your hair.
- Don't forget a razor and shaving essentials.
- Get your favourite brand of baby wipes or cleansing wipes- again the hospital ones are fine but it's always nice to have those home comforts. A flannel from home goes a long way too.
- Head scarf: (girls) you will want one of these as your head will be feeling cold. You also need to keep your scar covered but it's up to you how you want to do this. A cotton winter hat is also a nice idea.
- Oral care: bring your essentials and a bit more. In Lush they have some oral tabs for mouthwash that you can chew on which is great for freshness. Pop these in a wash bag as you will have to stow all of your goods by your bedside.
- Nightwear + a loose fitting cardigan or jumper. You need to be able to get it over your head!
- Your slippers and dressing gown for when you're up and about.
- Loungewear outfit so you can go on a walk within the hospital; potentially this is a good outfit to leave in too.
- Loads of underwear and socks: girls don't worry about a bra if you don't want to wear one.
- Buy yourself a few magazines and books or download material on Ipads/Kindles. I was gifted a Kindle and it truly continues to be the best thing ever. Don't forget your headphones!
- Put a small amount of cash in a small wallet that can be locked away- you might just fancy the walk to buy a paper!
- Eye Mask, Earplugs and if you want to; sunglasses! Hospitals are loud and bright during the day and still so loud all night unfortunately.
- Take a pillow if you feel attached to your own!
- If you're not keen on water then take some squash concentrate.
- Pack a number of healthy snacks that you can pick on when you're feeling better; hospital meal times are over-regulated and it can be irritating if you're hungry in between-especially if you're on steroids.
- To be honest take a chocolate bar- a big one. Allocate yourself times when you can have a nibble.
Recovery is not just a physical process rotating around the disease, it is a spiritual, mental and holistic process. It is so easy to forget this!
I believe I've covered everything but if there's anything you want to suggest then leave it in the comments!
By 2020 I am aiming to have raised £5000 for The Brain Tumour Charity to help #FindACureSooner and ensure continued support and readily available resources for patients and families of those who have Brain Tumours. Please click on the link and donate, if all of my readers donated £1 I would have met my target already! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/moneyforbrains