When you’re going through the emotions of having an operation (whether stressed or excited, nervous or calm), your mind will be in a thousand places at once. Here’s my easy checklists for what to take when going to hospital for an operation.
Button-up shirt/loose fitting top You don’t want to pull a jumper over your sore post-surgical face - turtlenecks are a no go.
Baggy trousers Post-surgery you want to be as comfortable as possible so make sure your trousers are easy to get on and off, especially for hip bone-grafts.
Layers Hospitals can go to from hot to cold in a matter of minutes (or at least it can feel like that when you’re recovering from surgery), so make sure you don’t limit your options.
Bar of soap There will be soap in the bathroom you use, but it can often feel a bit nicer when it’s your own – same applies for a towel, but remember you won’t have loads of space.
Sanitary products Just because you’re having surgery, it doesn’t mean you won’t be on your period.
Nintendo DS or iPod touch Something portable and electrical that’s not a phone (save on battery)
Magazine I wouldn’t recommend food magazines: before an op you’ll be ‘nil by mouth’ and jealous of anyone eating anything, and afterwards for most cleft operations your mouth/face will be very sore, so it may be awhile until you can eat normally again.
Drawing/colouring book with pens/pencils Or something that doesn’t involve a screen (staring at a screen would make me feel sick after a while due to the anaesthetic, plus this doesn’t depend on being near enough to a charging point).
Valuables Any unnecessary jewellery and be aware with electronics – unless you have someone to look after them for you, the hospital often can’t be responsible for them if you put them with your clothes.
Your best clothes This is a time to be comfy and to be realistic, often things like jeans post-op are your worst nightmare when you just want to be tired and chilled. Also, there may be a bit of blood or vomit at some point and the last thing you want to think is that you’ve got something on your favourite top.
Your worst clothes Although jeans post-op may not be the best idea, before the operation jeans or something more ‘normal’ can help you feel more at ease while you’re waiting. For my second jaw op I had to wait about 6 hours at the hospital and it definitely helped to just wear what I would normally to an appointment rather than feeling weird in a tracksuit I hardly wore (just make sure you have something chilled to change into).
Make sure you always check what the hospital letter tells you to bring - there are often limits to space or extra things to remember, e.g. any medication you regularly take.