What to Bring to the Hospital for a Radical Cystectomy

Last updated: July 2022

So, you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer and are having a radical cystectomy. Your head is probably in a whirl right now with fear, anxiety, and relief that finally, you are going to get rid of this "thing" inside you.

One part of me couldn't wait to get rid, the other was terrified. Then there are the practical things, what will I need? What should I wear? What should I bring to the hospital for my radical cystectomy? What, what, what?

So hopefully, this little article will help.

What did I pack for my radical cystectomy?

Firstly, after the operation your abdomen is going to be swollen. This is perfectly normal. Your insides have just been through a major operation. You are also going to have your new stoma and various drips and lines. So with this in mind, a 2-piece is best, pajamas to start with. This makes it easier for hospital staff to keep a check on your stoma and pouch and keeps a little modesty with your top half remaining covered.

Cotton or natural fibers are best as the hospital was quite warm. Also, at least a size bigger than you would normally wear to accommodate the swelling and to be more comfortable. I found elasticated waist items were best.

The day after surgery

You will probably be asked to get up out of bed the following day. Again, this is normal.

After a day or so, you will want to shower and maybe change into some day clothes. Again, I would recommend 2 pieces like sweat pants and a t-shirt, nothing too fitted, and make sure you allow for the swollen tummy, so a size bigger is really a good idea. I initially took 3 sets of pajamas and 3 sets of comfortable daywear plus a dressing gown and slippers.

Granny knickers

Underwear, now there's a thing. I was baffled as to what I should take.

I found that a full brief, yes, your big old granny knickers worked best. Again at least one size bigger was best as they offered a little support for my stoma and pouch. I took 6 pairs in with me, which seemed about right. Once your tummy has gone down, you can then look at what is best for you. There are various options of specific underwear for stomas. There's some really nice stuff out there for us ostomates, so don't think you are stuck with those granny knickers forever.

I also had a lovely pair of pretty pink bed socks, as for some reason, I did suffer from cold toes!

Bring your usual toiletries

So clothing out of the way, you are gonna need all your usual toiletries, maybe even treat yourself to some nice new ones. Let's face it, you deserve it!

Here's what I took:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Shower gel
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Body moisturizer, the air can be quite dry in hospitals.
  • Maybe even a bottle of your favorite perfume - this tended to comfort me and gave me a sense of normality
  • Face wipes
  • Moisturizer for face

Some less obvious items

I got my eyebrows and eyelashes dyed before going in, as I am quite fair. Plus, it gives definition to your face without having to put on any makeup.

Lip balm, again for the dryness, and also a tinted one gave a little color and sheen to my face.

I also was given by a friend a beautiful eye mask and some earplugs, and yes, I used both. Hospitals can be bright, noisy places. No nail varnish or acrylics are allowed before surgery.

If you have any false teeth, don't forget your little pot to put them in and your various cleaners, Fixodent, and so on.

Also, if you wear contact lenses, the air can be dry. Plus, you will probably want to take little "Nana" naps, so I would recommend using your spectacles instead. Don't forget to take a glasses case to put them in, to keep them safe when you go down for surgery.

You will also be asked to bring along any medication that you are currently being prescribed in its original box. I also took a copy of my prescription. It makes it easier for staff to log what you need to take and when.

Activities and things to do

Now what to take to occupy yourself as you're gonna probably be in for a week or so.

Here's a list of what I had:

  • Laptop/DVDs and headphones
  • Magazines/books
  • Coloring books and pencils can be very therapeutic. There are lots of adult ones on sale these days and require little thought. You can put it down and start again whenever you feel like it. My friend brought me some into hospital as a gift, and I really quite enjoyed them.
  • Crossword or puzzle books
  • Knitting or crochet
  • Mobile phone so I could keep in touch with friends and family (don't forget the charger).
  • Pen and notepad so I could write down any questions regarding my operation and treatment, as you will forget! Then when the doctor did his rounds I would pull out my little notepad and go through my list with him.

You will only need a little money, just for newspapers or the odd chocolate fix, and I wouldn't recommend taking bank cards or any expensive jewelry. You are not allowed to wear any jewelry going down for surgery anyway, with the exception of a wedding ring, which they will cover with surgical tape.

Packing for cystectomy surgery

So, my dear friends, I hope that helps in preparing you for your stay in hospital. You will be back home before you know it and back to being the new and improved you.

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