I am an “organizational nut” I Know, I admit it, somehow I feel it is the “always be prepared” oath I must have taken as a child and being the oldest of 6 and all that entails. So when I was getting my husband prepared for his surgery last week, I kept making lists of things to bring, things he needed to get to bring, things I should remember to leave at home so I thought this might make an interesting post for others!

The following hospital list includes the most important things to bring with you when you are admitted to the hospital:

The Patient:

1.    Hospital Papers:

We received a number of pieces of mail from John Hopkins telling us where to go and what to do the day or surgery; I put these in my “Kenny binder” to bring with me to remind me of anything I might forget.

2.    Legal Documents:

When you arrive at the hospital to check in you will most likely go to Admissions. You will be asked by hospital personnel for the following

  •  Driver’s license or identification card, you will defiantly need this to prove you are the patient!
  •  Insurance cards (You should already have called your insurance company that you would be undergoing this procedure a few weeks before. In my case I called our insurance company in early January to make sure there was not anything they needed from the surgeons office prior to being admitted-this might make the billing process move a little smoother; that is a topic for another whole series of posts!

Depending on the extent of surgery it might be wise to bring:

  • Copy of power of attorney, living will and/or advance directive (if applicable)

 3.    List of Medications you are currently taking:

This is really important for family members who don’t even know all of the medications that a family member takes. My husband was asked a number of times prior to surgery and on the day of surgery his medications. In the midst of the “craziness” of getting ready for surgery I can see this is one thing that can get overlooked easily but in my husband’s case where he takes a number of medications I would have been out of luck if I didn’t go over this with him before hand.

It is important to know:

  • Name of medication
  • Dosage of medication
  • Frequency of medication
  • Time of last dose (Another red flag here, make sure that you discuss with your surgeon what you can and cannot take the day of your surgery, something this simple can have you cancelling your surgery if you accidentally take something because you always do without discussing it with your surgeon!) 

4.    Comfy clothes:

 In my husband’s case this was same day surgery and he knew once he recovered we would be on our way home after an hour or so drive, so I knew he would want to be very comfy with his leg wrapped from his calf up to his thigh… So the weekend before we went out and looked from a “stylish” because somehow my husband thought there would be a Red Carpet where people would want his photo taken and “couldn’t be seen” in anything less than stylish. Thank you Hugo Boss! Yes, that is what who he was wearing. And don’t forget the “shoes’ or in his case slippers, again, BIG discussion at our home because you KNOW everyone would want to see “who he was wearing” so thank you UGGS for the backless soft lined slippers that I had just gotten him for the holidays… but depending on your surgery bring something comfy to change into for sure!

 5.    got glasses?

Another thing easy to over look and leave at home if you only wear these for reading, however,  you will need to sign consent forms and will need to know what you are reading so don’t forget to bring these, a family member can hold them for you while you are in surgery.

Family Members:

1.    Your cell phone:

 In this day and age when cell phones are never far behind, make sure you bring yours with you and it doesn’t get left behind in the haste of getting everything together and keeping “calm.”

 You might need a list of family and friends if they are not already in your contact information to update everyone as the surgery progresses.

 John Hopkins happened to let family members use cell phones in the family waiting room, however there are hospitals that do not allow the use of cell phones so you might need to bring a few prepaid phone cards for payphones to keep in touch with family and friends.

2.    Your “entertainment”

I am a magazine junkie, I will admit it, I subscribe to a bunch and then there are “those” that I call the forbidden ones that I pick up while getting my nails done or at the airport, you know the gossipy one, this is the kind of day you can stand some “mindless” and idle gossip to see what the “stars” are wearing or doing…

I have found a new love for crossword puzzles so a book for them might help pass the time for you too!

3.    Pocket Change:

I wouldn’t recommend going to the bank and taking out your weekly money that you use prior to this day, but I would recommend having enough cash on you that you have change for a vending machine, or the cafeteria.

And I would make sure that the patient does NOT bring any money with them, actually there really isn’t a need for them to bring their wallet or purse, it is just one more thing for a family member to hold because you wouldn’t want anyone to have access to it while your clothing waits for you while you are in surgery. My husband left his wallet behind and I held onto his id.

4.    Snacks:

Yes, we all know I am living the “fresh” life at the moment, but I halted my food for the day since I didn’t know long the whole day would be. But water, fruit, or whatever will keep your tummy happy that day is a wise thing to have on hand. Also, for the patient water on the way home is a huge help with getting the anesthesia out of their system and in our case an hour drive, lots and lots of water for a guy who is always thirsty was a must!

5.    Photo’s:

Again, in the day and age of cell phones everyone has a photo or two of their family members to look at while the time passes and it surely will help the patient to see a few before they head to surgery!

Things to leave at home:

1.    Jewelry; the is for the patient, this is NOT the time to put on your best watch or ring, leave it home it might get lost in the Pre-Op room or heaven forbid stolen. It is best just not to bring it, as a matter of fact before my husband headed to surgery, the last thing the anesthesiologist asked him was if he could give me his wedding band, now that was a surreal moment. First thing I did in the Recovery Room was put it back on his finger! 

2.    Credit cards and cash; again this is for the patient, there is NO need for them to have this! No one in the Pre-Op room is going to be “guarding” your “stuff” so your basic clothes and shoes are all you should leave behind there.

Hope this helps you get ready and speedy recovery!

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