So, I know I’ve been absent for a week or so but really there hasn’t been a whole lot to report. I am now 5 weeks post op, things are going well. I have been back in the gym more and more, not doing anything weighted just walking, cycling, body weighted lunges, squats and wall sits. I even attempted sit ups…… that didn’t go well, we won’t mention that again!!! The pain is worse this week, but I’m sure that’s to be expected after all of this. I’m waiting for my first consultation this Friday with my consultant, and day dreaming the days away about a little holiday, once I get the all clear to fly.
So instead of boring everyone with my day-to-day stuff, which really has not been very exciting I thought of giving you guys some practicalities of what you might need in hospital and when you come home for the first week or so. Remember, beautician talking so for any guys out there this might not apply. But maybe you’re a Martin and your loved one is going through this so listen up!!
- Packing the Bag: So, here’s where you can learn from my mistakes. I had no idea what to put in my bag, so as usual I brought everything. Bear in mind even if I go to my friend’s house for a night I bring everything. I packed as if I was going away for a week and my bag was far too heavy, especially for carrying out of the hospital coming home. Not a hope of me being able to carry it so mam had to try. I did try to put it on my knee in the wheel chair but even that was too heavy. So, keep it compact and light to make life easier.
- What’s in ‘the bag’: I was told I would be in the hospital for about 8 days, turns out this was only 5 but I packed for a month. I brought 5 pairs of pyjamas, 3 books, crosswords, shoes, slippers, my laptop. Everything!!! Such a stupid idea so here’s some tips of what to bring instead:
- Pyjamas: For sure these are necessary but only bring a max of 3 pairs. For the first 3 days, you will be in an ever-stylish hospital gown and won’t be able to change into your own clothes until all the chest drains and wires come out. It’s a good idea to bring one extra pyjama top as they advise to change your top every day for hygiene.
- Toiletries: So, if your time in hospital is anything like mine you’re gonna look the most glam you have ever looked (sorry, I stopped typing to laugh at that thought!!!!). Honestly these things are the least of your worries but it’s a little something to get you back on your feet. The day before your operation have a good shower, exfoliate, wash your hair, ladies, either get a leg wax or get the razor out because you won’t be shaving your legs for a while!! In your toiletry bag, it’s a good idea to pack a roll-on deodorant, I didn’t like using the spray straight after because of the aerosols, my sister came up trumps and brought these in to me! Water wipes, because you can’t have a shower for almost 4 days you’ll need something to freshen up. The nurses might help you out here but if not then ask someone to help.
The obvious things to bring like your toothbrush and hairbrush goes without saying. My first shower was 4 days after my operation, 5 days without a shower in total. This was a mission. There were no nurses available and I was dying to wash my hair and just have some water to wash myself, so mam was roped in. I knew I would be too weak to stand for the whole time and I wasn’t able to reach my hands up to wash my hair. Mam rolled up her trousers while I sat on a little seat in the shower……… if you’re very dignified and not great with being naked in front of your own mother, leave it at the door, trust me you won’t care. Anyway, we managed to wash my hair. To say the place was drowned is an understatement, but I had lovely washed hair and didn’t smell anymore, woohoo!!!! I had dry shampoo with me but no amount of dry shampoo was going to get rid of the grease built up in my hair.
- What you might not think of: Ladies this one is for you and you alone. Bras!! Yep I said it, this is one thing that the boys out there don’t need to worry about. What’s going to hold up ‘the girls’. Now, I have never been very ‘well endowed’ in this area so it wasn’t a major thing for me. If at all possible try to get a bra with no wires, no padding or elastic just something very soft, in fact get a few of them. These will be your sexiest item in your wardrobe!!! I was lucky and was able to get bras that are used for women going through a mastectomy, if you can get these ones then get them. You don’t need anything else making you uncomfortable, or touching off your incision site too much. Chances are you won’t need them for the first week or two but it would help to stop the skin dragging on your chest.
- Things to pass the time: These things are probably very personal and vary from person to person. For the first two/three days post op you won’t need things to pass the time. The most important thing is to catch up on sleep and try to get up walking as much as you can. Books are a great idea and for the last two days in hospital I was able to concentrate enough to read a few chapters. Crosswords or word-searches are a good idea, but again take a lot of concentration to get done. When I mention crosswords, well they’re not my strong suit. So, I was technically sending the clues to my dad and getting him to send me the answers, I don’t think this counts as me doing them but I’m calling it team work!! My consultant came in one day when I was attempting one and said, ‘oh no, she’s doing a crossword, things must be bad!!’. If you’re into music then bring in your headphone and Spotify to your heart’s content.
- When you get home: Realistically, you won’t need a whole lot for the first week or two. The most important thing is to rest when you need it, eat when you want too and take care of yourself. After that try to get out and walk as much as you can, have a friend you can rely on to talk to, and one who won’t wear you out. Remember my Greek jigsaw I mentioned in one of my first posts…… well it’s still not finished but it will be…… soon!!! After two weeks, you should be able to stay awake all day without a nap but don’t force it, everyone is different. Try to get out as much as you’re able too, it clears the head and stops cabin fever setting in.
Remember (insert broken record) listen to your body. Only you and you alone will know what to do and when to do it. Don’t force anything, go with the flow and see what happens. Try something, if you can do it then great, if you can’t then also great because you’ve learned something. Little goals everyday will help and after a few weeks you’ll start to be back to yourself. Keep going and we’ll get there, little by little.