How to Pack for the Hospital

I do not claim to be an expert in too many things, but with all of the time I spend in hospitals (and the medical bills to pay for this area of distinguished education), I proclaim myself as having a Ph.D. in packing for lengthy hospital stays. If I could legitimately add this to my resume, I would.  My knowledge is too grand to not share, so alas, here we are.

Below is my list for a five-day stay at your local hospital explained in detail for you below.

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  1. Hairbrush and hair elastics – Feel free to leave the elastics at home if your hair isn’t long enough 😉 After an operation, your hair looks a little worse for the wear. Being able to have a caregiver gently comb it for you is one of the first nice things you can feel and appreciate. You feel ever so slightly better when you know you do not look a total mess. By the way, the doctors and nurses have seen EVERYTHING, so be creative with those hair bands or elastics, when you are ready.
  2. Hat – Sometimes there is too much pain, fatigue, or I don’t give a damn to do my hair. Hats are fun, show off your interests or personality, and are a great conversation starter to learn more about your care team! Another plus, they keep your dome warm (I always freeze in hospitals!)
  3.  Toiletries – Some hospitals provide your basics (nice!) but there isn’t anything better than to be able to you use your preferred hygiene brands and to be surrounded by your comforting routine smells. *This is not an ad, just my personal preferences.* I start by filling my toiletry bag with a snazzy colored toothbrush and some refreshing Colgate Toothpaste. Then, I plop in my sexy deodorant; don’t judge, it smells delicious and lasts for a long time – helpful when the pain meds or anesthesia has you confused. Rather than packing my whole face routine, I pack gentle face wipes. The hospital is a pretty harsh environment, filled with germs and cool, dry air, so these are perfect for a few nights. Gentle is the key! I make sure to use a moisturizer when I can and slather on Aquaphor on my lips, hands, and feet. Well, usually someone who loves me does my feet. I always pack a nail file – nothing like a hangnail snagging in the bed sheets to really annoy you!
  4. Insulated, Reusable Water Bottle – I drink like a woman who has been stranded in the desert after surgery.  I hear water is also amazing for your body, especially after trauma. I pack a stainless steel water thermos to keep ice and water in and bring my favorite YETI Tumbler for the minute to minute drinking. I also pack a reusable stainless steel straw (I won’t be able to move my neck to drink, etc.)
  5. Important Documents – While not super comforting, I always bring a file with me and let my family hold it while I am staying at the hospital. It includes my current prescription list, my allergy list, my driver’s license, insurance card, and will. While not fun to think too much about, it is all necessary and pertinent information someone from my healthcare team may need.
  6. Comforts from Home – Now, for extreme comfort, I make sure to pack some of coziest clothes from home to keep me snug and warm. Loose fitting cotton pieces, flannels, and fleeces seem to do the trick. I pack my own feather pillow and a supportive travel pillow so I can get a few hours of pain-free, sleep in comfort. The feathers support my bionic neck in the right away and the travel pillow reminds me no whipping my hair back and forth while I sleep. I will pack a cotton robe (because sometimes I do just want to be in my gown but with a little more class) and my cozy slippers. which are more supportive than the gray hospital socks!
  7. Technology – Don’t forget your phone and charger! You can FaceTime or Skype with loved ones, play games, check the news, social media it up, and when you’re ready to text people.
  8. Entertainment – More often than often I have found sleeping, following doctor’s orders and having visitors is pretty exhausting, but I do pack one book. A piece of fiction and a killer pair of headphones so I can mentally escape the hospital!
  9. Notebook & Pen – Keep this right by your bed! Anytime you need to write something down, like a question to ask the doctor on his rounds, jot it down.
  10. Your Dignity, Flexibility, and a Sense of Humor – Healthcare professionals have seen everything – embrace it. I don’t suggest streaking but don’t worry about your body being seen.  Everything may not go as you and the doctors and nurses plan. Be open to new options and roll with the punches. Definitely, pack your sense of humor! Laugh at whatever you can. It is great medicine.

#yellowitsme #positivity #progress #mindset #growthmindset #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #pack #hospital #hospitalstay #raredisease #packforhospital #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination

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Practice Makes Perfect

I’m biting my lip, thinking about how many times I have thought of my former post, Why Me? since last Monday.

I spent the day attempting to work from home while enduring severe neck and shoulder pain. It had worsened after the initial muscle pain from my previous surgery. My surgeon sent me for a CT Scan over the weekend and my intuition was validated when I answered his phone call on Monday afternoon.

It’s never a good sign with the Neurosurgeon calls ahead of your planned appointment.

Long story short; my fourth cervical spine fusion failed. Four screws are loosening from pressure above them and the only solution is to remove the hardware and fuse further below, into my thoracic spine.

 

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What does your spine look like?

 

His voice cracked while telling me. I felt numb. I shifted my way over to my dog and held him for a few minutes before telling my family.

So, how do I not want to curl up and avoid the world? How did I practice a growth mindset? Was I positive?

For the record, I did want to curl up and avoid everything, but curling up would be extra painful. So, I laid down. I accepted many snuggles, both human and puggle.

 

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Wrangler the Puggle, expert level snuggler.

 

I let the doctor’s words play over and over in my head, acknowledging frustration and anger. These surgeries are intense; emotionally, mentally, and of course physically. I could not believe I would have to do it over … again.

The anger became sadness and fear as I talked with my therapist, but I knew they were just feelings, natural with what was happening to my body. As I spoke more about it, I began to practice my growth mindset.

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I am unsure why this challenge has entered my life but I chose to focus on the fact that this surgery and this recovery will give many people, especially me, the opportunity to grow. All of my doctors (and yes, it is quite an amazing team) will learn more about Ehler Danlos Syndrome and the effects of hypermobility to my neck and others who may be similar. The opportunity for me to grow, to learn more about my body, to grow healthier, to grow to learn more patience and courage.

While it may be a setback to my life (I’m supposed to move! I should be at work! Pushing through pain to live is hard!),  I promised myself to prepare for the best possible recovery so I can grow and improve.

I have downloaded inspirational and motivational TED Talks, podcasts, and have my meditation app ready. My iTunes playlists are full of Lady Gaga, JayZ, Eminem, Hamilton, Linkin Park, P!nk; music to get me up and moving. Currently, I am making a list of small but attainable goals to achieve each day, such as mini walks, practicing meditation, reading, reaching out to friends, all things to stay busy and positive. I will eat healthy to promote healing (but the occasional ice cream WILL help) and will follow doctor’s orders.

I will enter surgery with good thoughts and intentions, which has been and will continue to be practiced. After all, practice makes perfect.

#yellowitsme #positivity #growthmindset #mindset #progress #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #grateful #gratitiude #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination #ladygaga #jayz #eminem #hamilton #pink #p!nk #linkinpark

Learning to Fly

 

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A Robin fledgling, a baby bird who has left the nest without much experience to survive. Credit: Google Images

 

Dusk’s magical lighting fell over the manicured grounds, so at first, I thought it was a baby bat. It was on the pavement, so close to the lush lawn where its home was, but about ten feet away, struggling to fly.

I squinted, focused, and recognized the little animal as a tiny Robin, old enough to be away from the nest, full of its blue egg remnants, but small and young enough to fumble in flight.

My heart sank as I watched. It kept jumping up, launching straight up like a rocket, and then would peacefully fall back down to the ground. It would barely gain any distance towards the inviting trees and gardens, where its community was waiting and chirping for the bird.

With each attempt toward the sky, I stopped breathing, until the bird safely landed. Inch by inch, it flew up, fluttered back down. I prayed the wind would come along and help carry it over. Should I help it?  What if a car does not see it? I began the dangerous thought pattern of “what-ifs.”

As it launched itself again, I rooted for its flight to become more fruitful, for it to gain distance and length. Little by little, the determined bird made its way; up and over, up and over, up and over, to the green grass. It’s dainty legs hit the grass and like a proud mother, I teared up when it leveraged itself once more, and finally, hitting his fledgling stride, soared home.

 

The synchronicity of this little bird and his struggle overwhelmed me, but I trust the universe and look for signs when practicing mindfulness. I believe the bird was there for me, from a power higher than I can imagine, showing me I too will soar with persistence, grit, and determination. That wobbly, unstable flight represents the trauma of the past three weeks. Each flight attempt up symbolizes my struggles for the days, the hours, or the minutes that I conquered.

It was dusk for me at many of those moments; the pain, the panic, medical threats to my life and well being. With my loved ones encouraging me, chirping in and reminding me there was a beautiful spot for me to land, I endured my wobbly flight of recovery.

I can enjoy this fumbling flight now that I know soon I will be able to soar.

#yellowitsme #positivity #progress #mindset #growthmindset #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #grateful #gratitiude #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination #synchronicity #learningtofly