The other big thing to sort out is who and what help you’ll have after surgery. Primary recovery is six weeks long, during which you can’t bend your hip, you’ll be wearing compression stockings, you can’t drive and you have to sleep on your back. In an ideal world you’ll be somewhere with a downstairs toilet so that you don’t have to navigate stairs several times a day. You’ll need help getting dressed and undressed (undoing bra straps while on two crutches is not possible), not least because you can’t bend your hip beyond 90 degrees so getting anything onto or over your feet is impossible, as is picking stuff up off the floor. This is particularly true of compression stockings which are tough to get on at the best of times, but impossible post surgery. I also had help getting into and out of the shower, changing my dressing, putting shoes on and getting in and out of bed. Not to mention the help you’ll need with making meals and drinks and carrying them around, doing laundry, getting out of the house (especially to physio)… basically you’ll need help with everything.
I’m very lucky that my husband’s employer said he could work from home, and my mum is retired so between them I had 24 hour care. We’d expected me to be incapacitated for a full 6 weeks (maybe more) but actually I started doing lots of things for myself quite quickly, it was mostly washing safely, redressing and driving that I needed help with for an extended amount of time.
Packing for hospital
There are several things that I did pack that I was glad of, and some that with hindsight I would have taken. So here’s a by no means extensive list:
- E-reader and/or audiobooks – hospitals are largely boring but reading a book post-surgery can be hard so e-books are a good bet.
- Downloaded films + programmes – see above.
- Nightdresses or large t-shirts – with an eight inch hole in the side of your leg, everything becomes a faff. Wearing nightdresses or large t-shirts were a good way to balance wearing something comfortable and modest that’s not a hospital gown, with practicality when it comes to using the toilet etc.
- Creams, balms, lip salve, wet wipes etc. – it’s universally acknowledged that hospitals are hot and smell clinical. Having face and baby wipes, and familiar smelling creams, balms and salves helped me to relax, and alleviated the dry skin caused by over-heated rooms. When I felt hot and sweaty on my horrible hospital mattress, a cool face wipe made me feel human again.
- Anything that helps you feel comfortable – don’t be afraid to take anything that will make you feel comfortable. That could be a pillow, cuddly teddy, favourite blanket – anything that will help you relax and rest. The usual stay in hospital is about 5 days so do what you need to to make the space your own for that time. I bought a pillow that supports you when sleeping on your back – something you have to do for the first six weeks.
- Underwear – I recommend buying a size up, and side-opening underwear where possible. With a posterior surgery, the incision for your surgery comes up into the side of your glute, which can make you swell across quite a widespread area. The incision also passes straight under your knickers if you wear tighter fitting underwear. So going a size up is a good way to prevent your underwear cutting in when you swell up. Also, side opening underwear would have made my life so much easier – and it does exist! Getting knickers over my foot still poses a challenge, and I wish I’d known they existed prior to surgery. Give it a Google to find some that would work for you. Also, unwired bras/bralettes are great. I wanted something on for comfort (I’m well endowed shall we say, so often wearing something supportive is better than flying free!) but being in bed all day I didn’t want wires sticking in. So I got a couple of unwired bras and they were ace.
- Comfy clothes to go home in – like underwear, it may be worth buying some loose or stretchy trousers in a size up to go home in. You want something easy to get into, that won’t put pressure on the incision site or across the swollen area once they’re on.
- Slippers – if you don’t want to wear the horrible hospital anti-slip socks (who even designed those?!), take sturdy, grippy slippers with you. I bought these slip on ones for ease, lined with faux fur for comfort.
- All your medication in the original packaging – don’t take your meds in a weekly box. Hospitals need everything in original packaging so that they can prescribe it to be administered during your stay. The hospital will use the meds you take in so make sure you have enough (don’t worry if you don’t, they can prescribe more).
What to bring for your hospital stay
Please bring the following to the hospital.
This information in print form:
- a current list of your medicines (the My Medicine List)
- a copy of your health care directive (if you have one)
- driver’s license or photo ID
- your insurance information (insurance card, Medicare card, work compensation information or all three)
Please do not bring any of the following:
- medicines (pills, inhalers)
- large amounts of money
- jewelry (leave your wedding ring at home)
Allina Health will not be responsible for lost or stolen items.
- personal care items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, denture cleaner, comb, skin care products, deodorant, make-up and shaving kit
- loose-fitting tops and bottoms (shorts with an elastic waistband, generous sweat pants). You will get dressed each morning in your own clothes.
- clothing you will wear home, including loose-fitting pants, shirt, underwear and socks
- flat shoes or athletic shoes (comfortable, supportive with nonslip soles)
- glasses or contacts (if you wear them) and storage containers
- hearing aides (if you wear them), storage container and extra batteries
- CPAP machine (if you use one)
- reading materials (All rooms have a television and phone.)
- phone numbers of family and friends
- cell phone charger
- rolling walker with front wheels (if you have one). Your physical therapist can make adjustments to your walker for you. (Be sure to label it with your name.) If you do not have an assistive walking device, your physical therapist will help you get the medical equipment you need while in the hospital.
- money to buy equipment to take home if needed. It’s a good idea to ask a member of your care circle to bring this to you. Allina Health will not be responsible for lost or stolen items.