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…
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s probably a good idea to have some emergency numbers written down just in case, including for your GP.
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.
Image credit: Mufidah Kassalias via Flickr.
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.