For my first surgery, my preparations centred solely around my two young girls. They were six and nine at the time, my universe was centred around them and so did the the preparations. I was thought I would be away for one week, ten days at the most. Finding someone to care for them and get them to and from school and activities was a big one. Family friends helped by staying at our home with the girls. Barry's parents helped by getting them to and from programs twice a week. I had prepared meals in our freezer; knowing our caregivers had children of their own along with jobs, so it would be a busy time. The laundry was done the house was clean and the kids were as ready as I could get them.
Every night I read to the girls before they slept and the last thing I did before turning out the light was to sing to them. Being a stay at home Mom meant we spent a lot of time together, I was afraid they would really miss me, and that worried me.
The week before my surgery I sat quietly and recorded a reading of each of their favourite books. I then did the same for the songs we sang at bedtime. I'm not a singer by any stretch and I was embarrassed to know my singing voice could be heard by others, but I felt it was important. They each had a recording that had their story, their song and their Mommy saying Good night, I love you. More importantly there were light hearted moments for each of them on their recording.
I remember Meg always slept with her socks on and I always tried to get her to take them off, it was a little fun game we played. I included that in the recording before saying Good Night. My friend told me she always knew how much the girls missed me by how many times she heard that recording at bedtime, long after she had gone downstairs. She also knew when Meg got to that part cause she could hear her giggle.
It turned out that it was a good thing I had prepared the girls as well as I had, because I was gone far longer than expected.
Being as unprepared for my personal needs became a bit of a problem. I guess I thought "it's a one week hospital stay what could I need"? There's a lot that can help make you more comfortable so I learned. What happened in that case was I was not only in hospital for three weeks but I was than transferred to a rehabilitation centre, in a hospital four hours from home. I needed everything, so let's talk about preparing for surgery.
There's personal preparations, mental preparations and preparations for your home afterward.
The personal things I needed were very simple and it is easy to ask someone get them for you but it is easier to have them at hand when and if you need them.
1. Hand cream, body cream and face cream. It is dry, very dry in a hospital. It is also very soothing to have a foot rub or back rub is you are in pain or nervous.
2. A small mirror for personal care.
3. All the things you would pack in a cosmetic bag.
4. Mouth wash. Brushing teeth I found was not always possible and I was very conscientious about it.
5. Your own pillow, and a soft throw from home, most of the hospital pillows are lined with some kind of plastic and make you sweat, the throw is a comfort item.
6. Magazines and books, at first for your care giver while you sleep, and afterward for yourself.
7. Comfortable stretchy clothing for going home, and if you may be alright to dress on some days.
8. A writing pad and pen for bedside for taking notes when the doctors come in.
9. Ipad, smart phone if you have one for being in contact with others and passing time, it is also good for music and meditations. Remember the headphones.
10. A comfort basket of all the items you can't live without. Mine had rescue remedy, peppermint foot cream and a wrap type scarf for throwing over my shoulders, a picture of my dog and the girls so medical people see me as a mom and family person. I will bring a picture of me healthy and happy in Santorini, Greece, that will be my motivation.
The mental preparations I have done for this surgery are a little more involved because the surgery itself is a little more involved but I will speak generally here. It has always been my need to be as educated as possible about my medical conditions. I don't obsess about it but I do know everything the lay person can and should know about it. That is what makes me more comfortable. For some it may be that not knowing makes you more comfortable and that's okay.
So education is my first step, I ask every question I can think of and read the materials available than if I need more answers or information I look it up. It's important to go to reputable sites if you are using the Internet. Here is a link to my surgery if you are interested and I promise it isn't gory -- it is an animation.
1. Education, what is happening, how long is recovery, and what can I expect during recovery and after.
2. Meditation and prayers. During the time ahead I am having a calm, peaceful time, imagining a good outcome and how much my life will improve afterward. I did however have a reasonable time for grief, because I needed the surgery in the first place. If I did not honour the disappointment in this, the acceptance I have found would not have been genuine.
3. I am picturing family and friends around afterward to help me heal.
4. I am prepared to take whatever time is needed to heal, wherever it is best for healing.
The practical part of the preparations started for us the minute we knew there would be another surgery. We are old pros now having done it twice before and seeing what would have helped more. We were fortunate to have Jerri home for a while to help with this part. I had a surgery in September and had been laid up a couple of months before that, so it has been a while since things were normal around here. Lots got put off.
1. We cleaned the house from top to bottom, and when I say we I mean they......
2. We started a decluttering process, and while it isn't finished, it has a good dent in it. Lots of items were on hold until I recovered from my last surgery, then Christmas was upon us, and now there's another surgery.
3. We have cleared paths everywhere and I have looked at the house from the eyes of someone who is in pain and disabled. We moved things accordingly.
4. The freezer has some prepared meals for the first week at home and easy items for afterward.
5. We changed our bedding to the brighter, summer bedding because I will be spending a lot of time in that room.
6. We have looked at moving a comfortable chair into the kitchen for my recovery.
7. The deck is set up with a cozy chair and a small out of the way table.
8. Our bedroom downstairs is ready in case I cannot do the stairs.
9. Barry has started yard work early because we know not much will happen afterward.
10. We have an option for Whinnie but we may need many, depending on the time it takes, and we are working on that.
Finally, I have accepted the fact that I may need a rehabilitation hospital afterward. I have worked through those feelings and come out the other end with a much more positive frame of mind. If I require a stay there, this time I don't have children at home waiting for me. I will have had time to think about it and prepare. I do have a full suitcase of clothing packed. I have gone though my clothing and chose comfortable clothing to pack....just in case. I am prepared and it will not be a shock.
There are many things you can do to make recovery more pleasant but I know that being prepared is the single one thing that could have helped me more in the past. This time I'm ready!