Here I am resting at my mom’s place, recouping from my recent hysterectomy, and I found myself thinking about all of the things I brought with me for my post-surgery hospital stay and all of the items I wish I had packed to take to the hospital with me.
So, in case this proves helpful to anyone else that is preparing for a hysterectomy, based on my recent experiences here is my suggested list of what you should bring to the hospital and also, equally important, what to leave at home.
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Having a Hysterectomy:
Here’s What to Take to the Hospital With You
Bring Warm Fuzzy Socks
During my pre-admission interview, the nurse told me to be sure to wear a pair of warm fuzzy socks on the day of the surgery. She pointed out that your toes can get cold as the operating room is chilly. Those socks are the one thing, aside from a hospital gown, that they allowed me to take into the operating room.
I have a pretty cool pair of knit “slipper socks” that my Aunt gave me to use at the hospital way back when I was giving birth to my first child. I wore those things for my entire stay. Warm. Cosy. And the rubber grippy bits on the bottom kept me safe once I was up and walking.
If you can, I highly recommend finding a cosy pair of grippy-on-the-bottom hospital socks to bring with you.
Bring Toiletries: Hairbrush, Hair-Ties, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant, etc.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Though I will say, if you have longer hair don’t forget to pack some hair elastics. I did forget and I was frustrated. You will be climbing in and out of a hospital bed, with limited mobility. You will most likely want to tie your hair up out of the way.
Bring Chapstick or Lip Balm
It is DRY in the hospital. Also, right after the surgery, you will be very limited in how much liquids you will be allowed to consume. When you feel absolutely parched it is nice to be able to put on chapstick.
Bring Chewing Gum
Okay, this one is a bit weird. During my pre-admission interview, the nurse told me to be sure to pack chewing gum. They suggest you bring it and chew it during your stay because apparently chewing on gum helps ward off constipation. I have never heard this before. I have no clue how valid it is. But it was a nurse who told me, and it was on the official hospital packing list they gave me, so I am guessing it is legit. Also, I have to say, it was nice to have gum to chew on when I was still on a limited liquids only diet.
Bring Nice Underwear
Okay guys, this one is embarrassing. I brought old underwear to the hospital. Specifically, my old maternity underwear, because I wanted something that wouldn’t press against my abdomen.
I thought I was being clever, but when it came time for me to change into panties I wasn’t doing it solo. A nurse went into my backpack and pulled out my old stained underwear with the hole along the waistband and was utterly disgusted. She actually said to me, “You packed dirty underwear! You can’t wear these!” Should I mention at this point that I was in a ward room with plenty of other folks around? Explaining to the nurse that they were actually fresh from the laundry, just old and stained, was absolutely mortifying.
So, learn from my mistakes. Bring shiny crisp new underwear with you, with the understanding that at least half a dozen people are going to be checking out your panties over the course of your stay.
So, you are probably pretty excited at the idea of never having a period again after this whole hysterectomy thing, right? For me, that was the entire reason I had the procedure done, so I could stop bleeding excessively and stop being anemic (because being anemic is NO FUN).
I was slightly surprised to discover that you will need to wear pads after the procedure. You will bleed for a bit and also have other discharge. The hospital does provide pads, but if you have a favourite type of pads bring your own.
(Also, the various nurses kept asking if I had brought pads and definitely seemed to prefer if I used my own.)
Bring Your Pajamas
After the surgery, they will eventually let you change out of the hospital gown. For me, this was the following morning after they took the catheter out (and I got to have that fun discussion with the nurse about my underwear).
Nightgowns are recommended over two piece pajamas, for several reasons. For one, depending on how things go you may still be on a catheter for a while. Secondly, you don’t want a waistband pressing down on your belly or incision area.
Bring more than one nightgown, just in case something happens and the first one gets dirty. If nothing else you will be sitting there eating meals in your PJs. Accidents happen. Having a spare outfit never hurts.
Bring a Small Blank Book and a Pen
This is so you can write down any questions that you think of that you want to ask the doctor (or nurse) when you see them. Or so that you can write down the details of any info they give to you.
Remember you are going to be on heavy pain medication (for me it was shots of morphine) for the first few days of your stay, so having a written prompt can really help.
I also ended up using my book to write in, just to pass the time.
Bring a Paperback Book
I was really thankful that I brought an old paperback with me to re-read. It was a wonderful distraction from laying there checking out the hospital ceiling and contemplating how much pain I was in.
Bring Some Plastic Shopping Bags
So, within the big backpack that I brought with me to the hospital, I had two plastic shopping bags. When they had me change into a hospital gown, I put all of my clothing into one of those plastic bags and then tucked it into the bottom of my backpack to be my “going home” outfit. The second plastic bag was for putting dirty clothes into. So when I changed my underwear or PJs the dirty clothes had a spot to go that wasn’t mingling with the clean clothes. (This is basically a trick I learned from how we have to pack for when my girls go on camping trips with Scouts).
Bring a Loose Fitting Outfit to Wear Home
Serious emphasis on loose fitting.
I had this incorrect notion that I was going to have my giant fibroid filled uterus removed and my belly was going to be instantly smaller. The nurse during pre-admitting warned me that my belly would be swollen after the operation for up to four to six weeks. And they weren’t kidding, I swelled up like a beach ball.
My hospital roommate, who had also had a hysterectomy and was being discharged at the same time as me, was painfully trying to fit back into her skinny jeans. It didn’t look like fun. I was really thankful that I had brought an old loose fitting maternity skirt to wear when heading home.
Bring Your Health Card, ID and Health Insurance Info
Depending on where you are I’m sure this will vary. I know that in my case, I needed my health card, a piece of photo ID and my health insurance info with me during check-in.
If like me you wear eyeglasses: Eyeglasses and Eyeglass Case
If you wear glasses, bring them. Be sure you have a case to put them in, so they have somewhere safe to hang out while you are off in surgery, or sleeping at night.
If you have sleep apnea: Bring Your CPAP or BIPAP Machine
If like me you have sleep apnea it is imperative that you bring your CPAP with you to the hospital (machine, mask, all the bits and bobs, just like if you travel). They even had me bring it into the operating room with me.
As you know, you shouldn’t sleep without your machine. If like me you end up on oxygen post-surgery, they will add a special valve to the hose on your machine so that you get extra oxygen while sleeping.
If you normally run your machine with distilled water in it you might have to bring a small container with you. I did not think to bring this with me and while I was able to get them to provide distilled water at the hospital it was a big fuss every time.
Optional: Bring a Cheap Watch
I didn’t wear my Fitbit to the hospital, for obvious reasons, among other things — I wasn’t planning on getting a lot of steps in. However, not having the time displayed on my wrist sort of drove me batty. I was lucky in that I could usually see the wall clock from my bed, but a wristwatch, a cheap one that I wasn’t worried about losing, would have been a welcome addition.
Optional: Bring Your Cellphone
I know some folks who can not be parted from their cellphone. My husband is one of them. It is attached to him like an extra limb. I can’t imagine him going four days in the hospital without his phone.
However, the hospital does recommend that you leave your cell phone at home because they are not responsible for anything that gets lost, stolen or ruined.
Though, as far as I could tell, based on the nurses’ reactions and seeing other patients around me, I was the only patient in existence to follow this suggestion and leave my phone at home.
By the end of my stay, I asked my husband to bring me my phone and a pair of headphones, specifically so that I could try and listen to relaxing music and drown out the television that my roommate left set to bad sitcoms twenty-four hours a day.
On the other hand, I was glad that I didn’t have my phone with me for that first day and a half, where I was groggy and went through several room changes. Not having to worry about misplacing my phone was worth not being able to text my husband at 4 am.
If you do bring your cellphone you probably want a pair of earbuds as well. Being able to listen to the “relax” setting on Brain.fm was a nice change of pace from hospital background noises.
WHAT NOT TO BRING WITH YOU TO THE HOSPITAL FOR YOUR HYSTERECTOMY
Do Not Bring Tampons
As I mentioned above, you will have some post surgery bleeding and should bring some pads with you. However, do not bring tampons. You can not use tampons after the surgery. It’s an absolute no-no.
Do Not Bring Your Wallet or All of Your Debit and Credit Cards
You won’t need it, and if you don’t have it with you that is just one less thing to worry about misplacing.
Do Not Bring Wads of Cash
You might want a wee bit of money so you can send your family member down to the cafeteria to buy you a treat, or to hit the gift shop to pick up the lip balm you forgot to pack. But overall, there is no reason you should need money while in the hospital. Leave it at home.
Do Not Bring Jewellery
Based on my experiences, you will not be allowed to wear jewellery into surgery. No necklaces. No bracelets. No earrings. No rings. Yes, not even your wedding ring. Take it all off and leave it at home.
Do Not Bring That Fancy Expensive Toothbrush
Leave your fancy expensive electric toothbrush at home and bring a cheap plastic one with you instead.
Basically, Do Not Bring Anything Fancy or Expensive
The hospital, as they enjoyed informing me over and over again, is not responsible for lost or stolen items. Pair that with an unexpected room change or two and some post surgery grogginess and you’ve got the perfect recipe for disappointment.
Do Not Bring Anything Irreplaceable
Regardless of the dollar value, leave anything that is irreplaceable at home. Your beloved photo or trinket, while worthless to anyone else and unlikely to be stolen, could still easily get ruined or end up missing.
To recap, here’s my recommendations on what to bring and what to leave at home when you are heading to the hospital for a hysterectomy.
Packing List: What to Bring to the Hospital When You’re Having a Hysterectomy
- warm fuzzy socks
- hairbrush, hair-ties
- toothbrush, toothpaste
- chapstick or lip balm
- chewing gum (no, really!)
- nice underwear x3
- PJs x2
- small blank notebook and pen
- paperback book
- plastic shopping bag x2
- soft loose fitting outfit to wear home
- health card / ID, health insurance card or info
- CPAP machine (if like me you have sleep apnea)
- eyeglasses, if needed and eyeglass case
- cheap watch (optional)
- cell phone (optional — keep in mind that the hospital is not responsible for lost or ruined items)
- headphones (if you do bring your cell phone)
What NOT to Bring, Leave These Items at Home
- Tampons (You MUST use pads. No tampons. No inserting anything!)
- Your full wallet with credit cards, bank cards, etc
- Wads of cash.
- Jewellery (No rings, no wedding rings, no earrings — no jewellery!)
- Leave the fancy electronic toothbrush at home, bring a cheap plastic one.
- Basically, anything fancy or expensive.
- Anything irreplaceable that you would be crushed were it to be ruined or lost.
Click here if you’d like to snag a printable checklist to help with your packing.
Did I miss anything? What would YOU bring with you to the hospital if you were having a hysterectomy and knew that you would be there recouping for three or four days?