Friday 16 March 2018

What To Pack In Your Mastectomy Hospital Bag

Now that my surgery is over thought it might help for me to share the things that I needed during my stay in hospital.

Try to remember that after your operation your arm movement will be really restricted and you'll have drains in place. Here are my top takes:

For the Hospital

Slippers - make sure these are non slip. The last thing you need is a fall when you've just come round from anaesthetic.

Dressing Gown - in the UK you are usually asked to wear your dressing gown to walk to theatre before your operation.

Underwear - an obvious one I guess but if you are having DIEP flap surgery then big Bridget Jones knickers that go over your tummy scar are best.

Front Fastening Post Surgery Bra
- It is virtually impossible to wear a backwards fastening bra after surgery because of your restricted arm movement. In the UK your breast cancer nurse will provide you with one front fastening bra the day after your surgery. I've found this the most comfortable post surgery bra I have and I sleep in it every night at the moment as it supports the weight of my expander.

Button Up Pyjamas - as soon as I woke up in my hospital gown I wanted to get changed. There was blood on my surgical gown and I needed it off. I waited for Chris to arrive and help but again, ensure its front fastening and button up so you can get in and out of them yourself. I bought a pair a size up as I knew that I would be swollen and carrying my drain around. Elasticated waist is a must too so that you can pull your pants up and down easier.

Drain Pouch Bag - Literally THE best thing I had in my bag. I've heard so many stories of women having to pin their drain bags to their tops, their bras etc but I researched and got myself a Drain Dollies bag. I just had a single mastectomy so I only needed one but if your having a bilateral mastectomy then get two - one for each side.

Mastectomy Pillow - When I came round after my op I was quite uncomfortable under my arm - possible due to having the sentinel node biopsy. Luckily I had ordered a FREE mastectomy pillow from Jen's Friends. Again I only needed one but if your having a double mastectomy then get two.

Snacks - If you've read my Mastectomy Day Diary then you'll know that I had to wait for ages to be fed after my operation. Pack some healthy snacks in your bag so if you're feeling peckish outside of hospital meal times you don't have to wait on someone else. Make sure they're individually wrapped if you can - for hygiene.

Straws - lifting a cup to your mouth is hard so straws are a must. The hospital will probably have some but I packed some in case.

Medication - always take any regular medications with you and hand them to your medical team so they can ensure you are taking everything you need to whilst you are in their care.

Toiletries - again seems like an obvious one but the things you are most likely to forget! Toothbrush, toothpaste and wash things. I took face wipes so I could freshen up through the day.

Make Up - Some of you might thing this is daft but I wanted to feel more like myself for visitors and for the journey home.

Mobile Phone & Charger - I took my own portable charger in case there were no sockets available. I hate being out of contact with my family so my phone was a must.

For Heading Home

Front Fastening shirt - again this is for ease - to assist with your drains and with your arm movement. It's impossible to pop anything over your head because you cant lift your arms. Again I bought oversized because of swelling,

Elastic-Waisted Pants or Leggings - do not make the mistake of taking button up jeans. It's impossible to do up the buttons and pull up the zip! Elastic pants are easy to get into and out of and wont have you splitting your stitches.

Slip-on Shoes - avoid laces and anything that needs effort to pull on. Bending is hard and sore so the easier to put on the shoe, the better.

- I took a normal bed pillow to put over my front and fastened the seat belt over that to protect myself. I could feel every single bump in the road as we drove back.

When You're Home

Pillows, pillows, pillows - I had to sleep upright for two weeks post surgery and for some people its longer. It can be really difficult to get comfy. Thankfully my painkillers knocked me out most nights. What pillows are best is really down to you. Some people prefer v-shaped pillows to prop them up. I personally used two really firm memory foam pillows vertically behind my regular two duck feather bed pillows.

Prepared Meals in the Freezer - you must remember to eat to stay strong. Having some meals already stocked up is a winner as you won't be able to lift and cook as usual.

- I kept all my meds close to me in a toiletry bag next to my bed. It's worth remembering that you are unlikely to be able to open anything with a child proof cap so try and transfer anything in to an easy access container.

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