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my advice for post-hysterectomy clothing and hospital packing my advice for post-hysterectomy clothing and hospital packing

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Unread 02-19-2014, 06:26 PM
my advice for post-hysterectomy clothing and hospital packing

Hi there -

I am 3 weeks out from a total abdominal hysterectomy and I am feeling stronger every day. The anxiety of the upcoming surgery was the worst part. If you're anything like me, you relieve anxiety by over-preparing. I thought I would share some things I've learned....

UNDERWEAR: Many women advise buying "granny panties", and I'm sure that works for them, but I have a different preference. I found that having any fabric at all around my incision was very uncomfortable. I bought larger underwear but after a couple of days I switched to my regular underwear...the SMALLEST of my regular underwear, very low cut, with the top reaching just above my pubic hair (Victoria's Secret string bikini). This was so much better for me as it didn't touch my incision at all.

PADS: I also read on many posts to buy pads, which I did, and I never used them. I bled for 2+ weeks after my surgery, but thin pantiliners with wings were plenty for me. Again, for me, the less bulk, the happier I am.

SWEATPANTS? NO THANKS: Many women also advised buying very large sweatpants for recovery. Again, not good for me. I have several loose cotton strapless sundresses - the type that gather at the top and can either be worn as sundresses or skirts. I've been wearing nothing but these sundresses for 3 weeks. No bra necessary (although if I'm expecting a visitor I throw on a cotton sports bra). Unbelievably comfortable, very easy to pee (just lift it up), light, comfortable for sleeping. No fabric touching my incision. Plus, they are pretty, which is important to me. I also bought a largish zip up fleece jacket to wear over the dresses - it's important that it's big enough that it doesn't constrict anywhere.

PACKING LIST: Here are my essentials:

-One outfit as described above for the ride home.
-My own pillow (which is great to place over the area of the incision to protect it and just feel cozy while dozing in the hospital bed, also essential for the car ride back home to put over your abdomen under the seatbelt)
-Contact lens case and extra contact lenses! Essential! You will remove your lenses before surgery! Make sure you either give them to a loved one or if you're by yourself put them in your personal belongings bag so they are there when you wake up.
-peppermint gum and peppermint tea - excellent for nausea, which may happen as you recover
-my favorite travel mug to keep my tea warm by my bed
-Mi-Del ginger snaps - also excellent for nausea and good for you
-other favorite snacks
-cozy bed socks
-(if your phone is important to you) an armband phone case for use while running. I strapped it to one of the bars of my hospital bed and could always find my phone. Perfect.
-my favorite moonstone pendant and earrings. healing energy and it made me feel like myself immediately.
-deodorant

I kept these things in a basket on my tray table for easy access. That same basket is still beside me on the couch at home - all the essentials on hand at all times!
-Aura Cacia lavender room and body spray. No hospital smell for me.
-Avalon Organics lavender body lotion. Kept it handy and it used it constantly.
-earplugs and eye mask for restful sleep
-lozenges - I like the Halls vitamin C citrus ones
-hairbrush and hand mirror
-pads to cleanse my face (I use Desert Essence Organic Tea Tree Cleansing Pads)
-lip balm
-hair clip

I also brought things like supplies to shower, but I was only in the hospital for one night so I didn't need them. Totally overpacked!

OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS:
-I trimmed my pubic hair way way down, and they ended up trimming it even more. They did not shave it.
-I had a pedicure and leg wax before my surgery. I felt all prepared for a long recovery.
-A friend of mine lent me a shower chair which was helpful for a couple of days, but I found that I could shower standing up by the end of the first week.
-My husband was prepared to advocate for me, and he needed to. I did not get the pain medication that I needed and one nurse told me that I was exaggerating my pain. Prep your loved ones to be pushy about getting you what you need post op.
-Um, don't bother with a book.
-I was walking the day after the surgery. Yeah, a few feet at a time, but walking. Little more each day.
-I had a catheter in for almost 24 hours after my surgery. I was super freaked out by this idea. Don't be. Completely totally painless (really), and it's awesome to not have to get up to pee.

I know it's hard to believe right now, but you will be OK. The first week will be hard. Lots of pain. Hard to poop. Life feels totally different...then after the first week, little by little, you feel better every day. I promise. Take as many pain meds as you need. Don't be a hero. Be gentle with yourself. You are far more powerful than you know right now...close your eyes, breathe deeply, and believe that. I feel strong and transformed from this experience. I am more of a woman now than I've ever been, uterus or not. See you on the other side, sister. <3
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