What to Bring to the Hospital

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, what, what? So hopefully this little article will help.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitted clothing

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 two piece is best, pyjamas 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 fibres are best as it can be quite warm in hospital. 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 and after a day or so you will want to shower and maybe change into some day clothes. Again, I would recommend 2 piece like sweat pants and 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 pyjamas 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 were 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 sites that do specific underwear for stoma's. 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 with 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 moisturiser, the air can be quite dry in hospitals.
  • Maybe even a bottle of your favourite perfume- this tended to comfort me and gave me a sense of home/normality
  • Face wipes
  • Moisturiser 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 make up. Tinted lip balm, again for the dryness and also a tinted one gave a little colour 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 is allowed before surgery or acrylic nails etc. If you have any false teeth, don't forget your little pot to put them in and your various cleaners, Fixodent, etc. Also if you wear contact lenses, the air can be dry. Plus you will probably want to take little "Nanna" naps so I would recommend using your spectacles instead, and 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 when, and easier for them to dispense.

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
  • Colouring books and pencils can be very therapeutic. There's lots of adult ones on sale these days and requires little thought and you can put 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/treatment, as you will forget! Then when the Consultant 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 jewellery. You are not allowed to wear any jewellery going down for surgery anyway, with the exception of a wedding ring, which they will cover with surgical tape.

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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