As I prepare to go into the OR on Thursday, I am getting all my ducks in a row so I don’t have to worry about everything. My sole focus needs to be on recovering. Let me start out by saying, I am a control freak and that’s no secret. Therefore, it stresses me out knowing that for 5-7 days I will be highly medicated and unable to work or be alert. Even after the 5-7 days of being medicated, I am on bed rest for a week so I still cannot do a lot. Between owning a small business, planning a wedding, running this blog along with multiple social media platforms AND of course my biggest full time job- taking care of my health- life can get crazy. And no time is ever a “good” time to recover.
Over the past 8 years, I have found little ways to make scheduled recoveries easier; everything from skincare, to medication management, to hospital bag packing! Today I want to share those with you so that your recovery can be less stressful and much smoother. Please note that these suggestions are based off of scheduled day surgery procedures with majority of recovery accomplished at home.
1. Don’t Overpack your Hospital Bag, but Always Be Prepared
This one took me a long time to master as I always tend to overpack. The problem with overpacking your hospital bag is that your caretaker will have trouble finding what you need. This is a bag that I actually keep packed all the time for emergency and scheduled admissions. Here is what I keep in my hospital bag:
- One pair of clothing for hot flashes (cotton shorts, camisole/tank top, compression socks, and undergarments)
- One pair of clothing for cold flashes (comfy sweatpants, camisole, T-shirt, fuzzy socks, and undergarments)
- Hairbrush, comb, a clip, a couple hair elastics, and a few bobby pins
- My toiletries which consist of: hand cream; my “itchy skin” lotion; Bath & Body Works trial size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion; liners and tampons; hand sanitizer; deodorant; dry shampoo; toothbrush and toothpaste; adhesive remover; and cotton balls
- My “Hospital Skin Care Kit” which consists of face wipes, washcloth, and moisturizer
- Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad &
- Spare brace inserts, spare braces, and IV cover
- 5 Crowns card game
- Eye Mask
- Rock Floss (if you have not been trained in using this by someone who understands your medical conditions and history I do NOT advise using it. I am a trainer and have learned how to use it for my clients and for my health.)
- My RSD/CRPS 4 a Cure Awareness Bands: I give these out to doctors and nurses that have positively impacted me while I have been in the hospital
- My Hospital ID Band
(more descriptions on my Instagram highlighted story “My Hospital Bag” also note you must be using the app to see highlighted stories)
2. If You are on a Medication That Will Alter your Ability to be Alert, Write Down How You Like Things Done and Where the Things You Need Are
As I already mentioned, I am kind of a control freak and not everything needs to be done how I prefer it, but some things do- like medications. Jared, my main caretaker, cannot always be the one taking care of me if he is working or unavailable. I have a handful of people that have enough experience with me and how we do things that we can rely on them to help us out. By having everything written out we can ensure that everyone is on the same page- and everyone doesn’t have to remember every little thing. I make my lists and place them with the coordinating bins. Tip: Save them for next time if you do not want to write them out again.
3. Set Up the Medications You Can Beforehand and Get your Medication App all set for the Short Term Changes
So there are some medications that you will not have on hand, but will receive once you get out of surgery. Obviously you cannot set those medications up, but you can set up the ones that you know you have. I got this medication case by mistake (I wanted just a morning and evening case) and the company said to not return it but to just keep it. I never thought I would find a use for it but alas I did! I have 4 different times that I take medication, and I have pills to take before and after I eat. A huge help has been the Round App. I talk all about why I like this app and how to use it here.
Along with setting up that app for the short term changes, I put all the medication that I can inside of the case, and I set up my before and after meal pills. I use my desk right next to my bed to set everything up. Then I place those instructions (the ones I talked about earlier) by my medications.
4. Set Up Easy Skin Care and Toiletries
If you have gotten to know me, then you probably know that skin care is very important to me. I have always struggled to find a way to take care of my skin when I am recovering, and over the past 2 months I figured it out. I have a very oily face so if I do not wash my face and eyes, my eyes will start to sting. In the morning after I take my medications, I (or Jared if I cannot which for the first few days is how that goes) will use a wet washcloth on my eyes, use a face wipe, and put in eye drops. Then I put on an acne fighting moisturizer. That’s it! Super easy and manageable- especially for my caretaker! When I am recovering from this specific procedure I cannot easily get to the restroom. Instead, I use a commode and keep a small bin of those toiletries accessible along with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and small container that is washed out after I brush my teeth. Having all of this out, with instructions, and ready to go is a huge help and time saver for myself and my caretaker(s).
5. Make Chargers, Remotes, and Lights accessible without Excess Work
Before you go in, make sure you have things such as your phone charger, fitbit charger, and tv remotes accessible. You might not be able lean over and grab your charger off the floor or reach into a drawer to grab a remote. We have to think ahead! I like to use clips to keep my chargers up in reach and every morning Jared leaves the remotes by my left side in reach. This Christmas, in order to make things easier for me, we hooked all of our lights up to a remote so I can control all of the lights from my bed. This has been one of the most effective things we have ever done! If you have not done this I would encourage you to do so, and you can buy them right on amazon. This gives me a little more freedom during a time that I typically do not have much.
6. Update your Medical ID’s and your MYIHR (My Interactive Health Record)
Okay so I have to talk about your iPhone’s Medical ID because most people somehow are not using this feature or know it exists! I have a tutorial on how to set it up here, but this is an amazing tool. If you don’t mind some extra work, you can even add a title to all of your screen savers on your phone with instructions to let someone know where it is and how to access it (comment below if you would like a tutorial showing how to make a screensaver with that crucial information!) I also have a MYIHR. It is an interactive health record that any EMT can easily access from my medical ID. One the bottom line of my ID’s it says “SEE REVERSE” then it goes into the instructions of what hospital I need to go to and how to access my medical record from the ambulance. My medical ID gives my support system and I a security net in case something were to happen to me when I couldn’t advocate for myself or they couldn’t advocate for me.
I always like to update MYIHR and my medical ID on my iPhone before I go in. Even though nothing should cause me to need these, it’s always good to update and have everything ready to go. It just takes away the “what if” of doubt in the back of your mind.
7. Designate Someone to be your Work Contact and place Emails on Hold
I run a dance medicine clinic and coaching service. Part of my job is to be on call 24/7 in case of an injury or emergency. During recovery times, I cannot be on call so I designate an emergency contact to take my calls. I also set an automatic response for all of my emails letting people know that I am out and where they can call if there is an emergency. This also decreases my stress level.
8. Make Sure Ice Packs/Heat Packs, Lidocaine Patches and Any Other Topical Medications are Accessible for Caretakers
For this recovery, I will mainly use ice packs rather than heat packs. However, we always make sure that they are accessible and that there are enough in our freezer. I also leave my electronic heating pad in a visible spot and my moist heat pack on the desk. That way it can be easily located. I leave all my lidocaine patches in an easily accessible location as well as my topical creams that we use for pain management.
9. Wash & Change your Sheets and Set Up your Bed
Before I go into any procedure we wash the sheets, pillow cases, and blankets (even if they were just washed a couple days before) because nothing feels better than coming home to a fresh pair of clean sheets. You can also leave your pillows where they seem like they would be a best suited for you to just get right into bed when you come home from the procedure.
10. Ask for Help in Advance
I saved the best for last- ask for help in advance. Asking for help is hard, but when you know you need it don’t wait until the last minute. We are looking to decrease stress not increase it and one of the ways to do that is to make plans ahead of time. You can even plan out what food you want to have during recovery so you don’t have to make extra decisions. Talk with your main caretaker and have them help you with this because ultimately after you get home, they take over.
I hope that this helps you prepare for your recovery and allows you to let go of the unnecessary stresses that I have been able to let go of. Best wishes to you as you prepare for the OR, I’m rooting for you!
Make sure if you use these to post on social media and tag me @officialcassiemayo on Instagram with the hashtag #livingthechronicillnesslife