Scoliosis Surgery What to bring to hospital

Scoliosis surgery what to bring to hospital

I get asked a lot what to bring to hospital for scoliosis surgery, so I’ve compiled a helpful list. I know how stressful it can all be so I’ve also created a checklist that you can easily download and print – see the link at the end of this post.

Below are items that I found useful when I was recovering from scoliosis surgery in hospital but they are probably relevant for any back surgery. I hope you find it useful!

Scoliosis Surgery what to bring to hospital…

Dressing Gown

You will need a dressing gown as it can get cold in hospital and they are good for covering your dignity, as hospital gowns often open at the back!

PJ’s / Nighties

You will probably wear the hospital gown for the first few days but I would recommend taking a few of your own PJ’s or nighties as it makes you feel better. For females, nighties are preferable because you will be wearing a catheter for a while and it’s easier when you are wearing a nightie.

Slippers with grip

Some comfy slippers will keep your feet nice and warm but the grip is important for walking round the ward. You really don’t want to slip after back surgery!

Comfy socks

Comfy socks are good for keep you warm and cosy (fluffy bed type socks are ideal).


You’ll need enough underwear for your stay but note that you probably won’t be able to wear a bra in hospital or for a while after the surgery. It’s far too painful for the first few weeks.

Travel sized toiletries in a wash bag

Travel sized toiletries are ideal to save space (you don’t have much space for your stuff in the ward). I fit all mine in a medium sized wash bag and carried this around with me. They put your details on it with a sticker so they know that it’s yours in ICU.

Toiletries to include would be:  Shower gel/Body wash, Face wipes/Body wipes to freshen up,
antibacterial hand gel, soap, shampoo, toothbrush/toothpaste, shaver, deodorant, body spray, moisturiser (your skin gets very dry in hospital) and lip balm/Vaseline (your lips also get very very dry).


Useful to have by your bed if you need to freshen up. Not nice but I was sick quite a bit after my surgery so I used a lot of tissues.

Sanitary towels

Important for female patients. The anesthetic can bring on your period and it’s best to take your own supplies trust me!

Dry shampoo (life-saver!!)

Take LOADS of dry shampoo as you will not be able to wash your hair for a while and it just makes you feel better.

Hair brush and hair bobbles/hair clips

Your hair can get quite matted lying down a lot so it’s nice to have a brush to make you feel better. I remember I also had lots of glue stuck in my hair from the wires and things they attach during surgery. Some people plait/braid their hair before surgery to make it more manageable.I had mine cut quite short as I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage it for a while afterwards.

Loose dress / cardigan to wear after surgery/comfy day clothes – the looser the better!

You will spend the first few days in a hospital gown and then whatever PJ’s you have brought. Eventually you will feel well enough to get changed out of your pajamas and when you do you will need extremely loose fitting clothes. This is because your back will be too sore for tight clothes and they will be too awkward to get on. I spent most of my time in comfy leggings and loose dresses/shirts. You will also need an outfit for the day you are discharged.

Bath towel/flannel/sponge

You will need your own bath towel and  a flannel/sponge, as the nurses will use this to wash you with to start with. Once you are able, you will wash yourself in your bed and eventually you can go to the bathroom and wash there. You will only be able to do a body wash to start with, you will not be able to have a full shower for a while after this surgery, as you can’t get the wound wet.

Straws and plastic cups / beakers

Straws are really important because to start with, it’s extremely difficult to sit up and take a drink. Having a plastic beaker (preferably with a lid) and a straw means you can drink while lying/sitting in bed much easier.

Fruit squash

I drank a lot of Vitamin Water for energy. It’s important to keep hydrated after surgery to prevent infections such as Urinary Tract Infections. Catheters can cause these so if you are prone to them, some diluted cranberry juice may be helpful.

Some dry foods like biscuits / healthy snacks

Dry foods are important because you may (like me) feel very sick for the first few days. I was very sick as a result of the anesthetic and so couldn’t eat much apart from dry biscuits.


Mints are a good idea for freshening up and making you feel better, especially if you’ve been sick and are not well enough to clean your teeth.

Books/magazine/puzzle books

You may need something to keep you occupied while you are in hospital (I was in hospital for 2 weeks). Although I was too ill too read anything for the first week. It was only in the second week that I could manage to read anything.

Electronic Entertainment

You may also want to take something for entertainment like a tablet, e-reader orMP3 player and some headphones. Just be cautious of taking anything too valuable as you may not be in the best condition to look after your things. It may be better to ask family members to bring any personal electronic devices in for you as you start to feel better.

Also different hospitals have different rules about the use of personal electronic devices. It’s best to check with your hospital first so you know what you can bring/use.

Pen and notepad

It’s always worth taking a pen and notepad or some paper, just in case you need it.

Other personal belongings

This would include your mobile phone, purse (only take a small amount of money), any paperwork (hospital letters including your admission letter) and any medication you may be taking, along with doses written down.

If you wear reading glasses, you will also need to bring those.

Ear plugs / sleeping mask

These can come in useful, especially if you are on a ward. It can get very noisy at night and it can be hard to sleep.

Any home comforts

Anything that will make you feel more comfortable really. A favourite pillow or blanket for example to keep you warm.

Emergency numbers

It’s probably a good idea to have some emergency numbers written down just in case, including for your GP.

Don’t forget!

Before you arrive at the hospital for your operation, you’ll need to remove any nail polish, body piercings and jewellery.  This is mainly for hygiene reasons and so that the surgeons can see your nails during surgery.

Scoliosis Surgery what to bring to hospital – free downloadable checklist

For your free downloadable scoliosis surgery hospital checklist, click the link below.

Scoliosis Surgery what to bring to hospital

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Scoliosis Surgery - what to bring to hospital

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Preparing for Scoliosis Surgery

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Image credit: Mufidah Kassalias via Flickr.

Preparing for scoliosis surgery - 12 practical tips

Preparing for Scoliosis Surgery

I thought I’d write a post about preparing for scoliosis surgery, as I know that before my surgery it was something I was worried about. It was difficult to know what I should be doing and how to prepare.

Firstly, I recommend that anyone facing this surgery, as well as their close friends/family members should read Scoliosis Surgery: The Definitive Patient’s Reference (3rd Edition). It’s a really easy to read book that is written from the perspective of somebody who has been through the surgery. It contains loads of information on how to prepare for scoliosis surgery, what’s involved in the surgery itself, recovery tips and more. 

It really helped me and my family to understand what I would be going through and I think even my surgeon was surprised at how much I knew about scoliosis and scoliosis surgery having read this book! 

I also recommend that you get talking to others who have been through the surgery, join a support forum and ask as many questions as you can think of. 

I spent a lot of my time during the months leading up to my surgery emailing and chatting to others who had been through the surgery. The amount of help, advice and support I received was invaluable and inspirational. I found that the people I spoke to had had amazing results and lived a normal life post surgery, which reassured me that I was doing the right thing.

So remember, you’re not alone in this.

It’s good to talk about what you’re going through with others who understand. If it wasn’t for the help and support of others going through the same thing, I doubt I would have been able to go through with it myself.

Preparing for scoliosis surgery: 12 practical tips…

    • Exercise – I got myself as fit as possible as I thought the stronger I was, the better chance I’d have of a quick recovery. Post surgery it’s important to have strong ‘core’ muscles and strong leg muscles to support your back. Leading up to the surgery I did alot of swimming, Pilates and I went to the gym about 4 times a week. I guess getting super fit was my way of regaining control of a situation that was out of my control. Exercise also helped me to “de-stress” and forget about the surgery for a while.
    • Diet – I tried to eat as healthy as possible, I ate lots of fruit and vegetables, drunk plenty of water and I also took vitamin tablets. Again, I just wanted to give my body the best chance possible (remember you should always check with your doctor before changing your diet – places like Holland & Barrett offer a huge range of vitamins and supplements).
    • Get a haircut – I had my long hair cut into a bob before surgery and I’m glad I did! I couldn’t wash my hair for a good few weeks and it looked a right state in hospital all matted from lying down for days on end. It’s really difficult to wash your hair once you are home recovering too, as you can’t get your scar wet and it’s impossible to lean over the sink or bath. It’s alot easier to manage with short hair believe me – and don’t forget to stock up on dry shampoo!
    • Quit Smoking – If you smoke, you should try and quit straight away! This is because smoking can actually interfere with a fusion and stop it fusing properly. If you’re worried about this, speak with your surgeon.
    • Check what equipment your hospital will provide you with post surgery – you will need some equipment to help you cope around the house post scoliosis surgery. Such equipment includes a good chair, a raised toilet seat, a grabber (to pick things up off the floor), a bath/shower chair (useful to help with shaving your legs!) and anything else you can think of that will help you to stay as comfortable as possible – i.e. lots of cushions! The hospital should provide you with most, if not all of these things. So make sure you check with them before you buy anything!
    • Stock up on DVDs – or books or magazines or anything you think will help keep you busy whilst at home recovering. The first couple of weeks you will feel too ill to do much but after a few weeks at home with daytime TV – believe me, it can get boring! 
    • Prepare your meals in advance – if you live alone you will need a bit of help making meals your for a while. If this isn’t an option, a good idea is to make some meals before you go into hospital and freeze them so that you can just heat them up. You could also stock up on ready made meals, tinned and easy to prepare food.
    • Stock up on toiletries and anything else you may need for when you get home, as you won’t be able to leave the house for a good few weeks. Even after then it can be daunting venturing into busy shops immediately post surgery – I know it was for me – I was scared in case anyone bumped into me! Of course you can always send other people out to get what you need, my mum was great at picking up my prescriptions for me. 🙂
    • Stop taking Ibruprofen (if you take it) about two weeks before surgery. I was told this at my pre-op – if there are other meds or supplements you shouldn’t be taking you will be told at your pre-op. The best thing to do is check with your Dr/surgeon if you are concerned about anything you are taking.
    • Pack what you need for hospital – in plenty of time so you can get everything you need without getting stressed. Take a look at my scoliosis surgery hospital list that I created before I went in for my surgery for ideas on what to take with you. 🙂 Travel sized toiletries are ideal.
    • Pamper yourself – Don’t forget to pamper yourself a bit leading up to surgery – this can help you relax and take your mind off things which is very important. Plus you deserve it after what you are about to go through! I would recommend having some fun with your friends or (for the women!) getting a leg wax (as it’s difficult to shave your legs after surgery for a long while!!) and it just makes you feel alot better in yourself, which is important.
    • Relax – I know it’s difficult but you really do have to relax. I really stressed myself out before surgery and suffered with insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, panic attacks – the works! Try to get a good night sleep before the surgery if possible (I didn’t – even with sleeping tablets) and try relaxation techniques such as hypnotherapy or listening to some relaxing music. Exercise such as Pilates or swimming can also help you to relax, whilst strengthening your back muscles at the same time! 

I hope this post has been useful, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about preparing for scoliosis surgery and I’d be happy to share my experiences with you. 🙂