Topic: Shopping/packing/to-do list for surgery + recovery....

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Feb 6, 2008 06:43PM - edited Apr 20, 2021 02:06PM by moderators

Posted on: Feb 6, 2008 06:43PM - edited Apr 20, 2021 02:06PM by moderators

Panchoandlefty wrote:

OK, I admit it, I am a compulsive planner. I have had some great suggestions and tips not only regarding what to bring to the hospital, but also on how to prepare the house to make the recovery as easy as possible.

I am travelling for surgery so, for me, "packing" includes the first 10 days of post-op care.

I thought I would start a list (in no particular order) that might serve as a reference... PLEASE add your suggestions!!! Anything at all you either found helpful OR wish you'd considered before your surgery.

I am a bit of a MacGyver type and love creative uses for things like the lanyards and fanny packs for drains. I was wondering if a light/loose fly fishing vesy might be handy both for drains and for holding my phone, mp3 player, etc so I didn't have to reach so much... I am SUCH a geek.

Anyway, over-organizing seems to be keeping me occupied as my bi-latteral approaches. I know everything won't be a hit with everyone, but it gives us some things to think about.

******NOTE: MODS TOOK ORIGINAL LIST FROM Panchoandlefty AND COMBINED WITH OTHER MEMBER SUGGESTIONS UP THROUGH END OF MARCH 2015*********** We are happy to keep adding, and please let us know if we missed anything !

Combined list from what others have said in this topic !

Community member tips for Surgery

Tips for the hospital:

Hand sanitizer, antiviral Kleenex, Anti-bacterial adult wipes (in a pretty dispenser), adult "baby wipes" to give yourself sponge baths.

'skin prep wipes'. These help prep the skin for tape and other adhesives

Roll on or Spray Deodorant, NOT a solid stick.

Lozenges or hard candy of your choice.

A lip balm of choice

Face and hand moisturizer

A stool softener, dried prunes, bran cereal and "smooth move" tea, laxatives.

Clipboard, notebook and pen (for documenting when you had pain meds and drain amounts)

Zip up track suits or button up pajamas and shirts.

Slippers, cotton front snap bras

Silky bottoms/PJs to make getting in/out of bed easier

Zip up hoodies/ warm ups, soft flannel shirt is just right for after surgery.

Camisoles/tanks which can be stepped into (as opposed to pulling over-head)

Jog Bras (Natori is recommended) or whatever support is suggested by your surgeon

Pull on, easy pants or shorts, or shirt

Reading glasses

iPod, Mp3 / Music player

Cell phone/ have friends' numbers handy!

Book, magazine

Hair tie if your hair is long.

Lanyard (like for ID cards) for holding drains

Fanny pack for drains

Nurses can make a necklace from IV tubing to hold drains in shower

Luck trinkets or photos from friends and/or family.

A good eye mask and ear plugs in the hospital.

Take clothes to hospital that can be washed/sanitized at home

If you are going to sleep in bed and not a recliner at home, ask the nursing staff to show you the proper way to get in and out of bed with the least strain on your back and upper body.

If you feel you may not be up for visitors at the hospital, just let the nurses and staff know that you prefer no visitors except DH or immediate family. I knew that I was having a rough time emotionally as it was beforehand. I didn't want to put on a happy face for a friend, cousin or whomever wanted to stop by. I know the visitors mean well, but for me I just wanted peace & quiet.

Tips for the ride home:

Have a pillow and lap blanket for the car-ride home.

Fill scripts before coming home so you won't have to stop on the way

What to organize at home:

Consider getting something like the The Shower Shirt, a patented, post-surgical, water resistant garment designed to protect chest surgery patients, including mastectomy, while showering. Use code BCO for 20% off

Get a manicure and pedicure before your surgery, and a hair cut.

Before surgery, practice washing your hair, with or without help, with your elbows not moved away from your chest---either over the kitchen sink, using the spray or if your doc will allow, in the shower.

Or, arrange with your hair dresser to do your hair after you get home and cannot stand it any longer -- get someone to drive you.

Move commonly used items, kitchen tools, etc to low shelves before surgery

Find NON child-proof caps for meds.


Arrange all post surgery robes, pj's, button down shirts and hoodies on a rack in one easy to reach place so you can dress myself easily the first couple of weeks without rummaging through my closet.

Bendy straws

Paper cups and light weight coffee cups for at home

Extra sheets to keep in rotation

Lots of pillows or a wedge or two!

A travel neck pillow - 'C' shaped - for keeping neck from getting a crick after sleeping in a recliner.

Tiny travel buckwheat pillows, or other small pillows.

Put an egg crate mattress on top of mattress and use a long body pillow.

Medical gloves (latex free or powder free)

Small kitchen garbage bags for dressing disposals

A little plastic waste can for at home

Find NON child-proof caps for meds

Lanyard (like for ID cards) for holding drains, Fanny pack for drains, or a camisole, or nurses can make a necklace from IV tubing to hold drains in shower. An old neck tie to use as a lanyard to hang my drains on while I shower. Works like a charm

A shower chair and a hand held shower nozzle. 3M Nexcare tagaderm transparent bandage over the port where it exited my skin when I showered. Also, have a lanyard to use for your drains in the shower. I just clip the safety pins on the lanyard clip for while I shower. It seems a little heavy on my neck while I shower, but I take it off right after I shower.

Get a humidifier for home if your air is dry.

Grabbers! These are about 23 inches long, have a handle that you sqeeze, and the end clamps on stuff on the floor. GREAT for pulling up your pants when you can't bend over, or picking up stuff that you drop, (like the toilet paper, etc!) I needed two of these, as I dropped the grabber! Great for pulling the wash basket along, too!

Make sure to get safety pins, makes it easier to pin your drain tube to your pjs.

Size 1 baby diapers, sanitary napkins or nursing pads for open breast incisions.

A small step stool has been a great tool to help me get in and out of bed

Make sure there's food premade that you don't need to fuss with (sandwiches/salads in individual servings), and also keep those drinks handy.

Cook some of my favorite foods and even ordered a couple takeouts from my fav restaurants to be on hand when I got hungry.

Purchase smaller sizes of soda/juice/milk.

Stock up on heavy items (laundry soap, dry dog food, bottled water, sodas) for 2-3 months! Remember to fill up smaller containers that are easier to pick up.

Put your shampoo, conditioner, and body soap in trial size bottles so they are easier to manage and lighter.

Stock up on stuff near bed - tissues, water, magazines, lots of pillows of all sizes, medicine, remote control.

Recliner or hospital bed- can be ordered from medical supply companies. Some find a sleeping wedge very helpful, with pillow under the knees.

Drain solving problem: Zip-up hoodies or robes with pockets, I cut a slit on the inside material and popped the drains in from the inside. No one even knows they are there. It looks a little bulky, but much better than the drains hanging on my neck from a lanyard.

If you have someone a the house helping you out, when you need them call from your cell phone to the house phone or vice versa. It was so much easier than trying to yell from upstairs.

Get Netflix or rent movies.

Have an insulated cup for drinking and book and lamp by the bed.

Have someone pour milk, juice, etc from big gallon jugs into smaller containers and leave on an easy-to-reach shelf.

If a can of something needed opening, have someone do it before they leave.


This thread started me thinking about what my husband/partner will need. So I am starting a basket of "surprises" for him. A friend is bringing it to the hospital to give to him after I am in surgery.

iTunes gift card - so he can dowload a book on tape, music, movie, whatever

roll of quarters - for the pop machine

deck of cards - surgery is supposed to be 8 - 10 hours. He can play cards with whoever shows up

remote control car -pure silliness but he will think it is fun!

box of Special K meal bars - at least he will have something semi-healthy to snack on

chapstick - hospital environments can be very drying

bottle of special single malt scotch - something he would never buy for himself, but will appreciate very much when he gets home

travel blanket - hospital can get cold

framed picture of the two of us


Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 4, 2022 09:09AM nipab wrote:

one more thing I found useful. Long chord to charge phone. I took 6 ft long charger cable and it was neede

Surgery 12/15/2015 Lumpectomy (Right); Lymph node removal (Right): Sentinel Radiation Therapy 3/7/2016 Whole breast: Right breast Surgery 3/3/2022 Lymph node removal (Left): Sentinel; Mastectomy (Left): Nipple Sparing, Simple, Skin Sparing Chemotherapy 4/27/2022 Other
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Mar 4, 2022 08:39PM ecdeluca wrote:

Hello! Question for those who are on the recovery side- silk pjs have been recommended but I wonder how much difference you feel the style of pj makes. Specifically for the first and second weeks of recovery when the drains are still in, how much difference does button up vs zipper make? And did you find long sleeve more of a hinderance to get into than short sleeve? I've also seen some tie closures, would that be easiest? It's very hard to imagine exactly what the limited range of motion will impact when it comes to the finer motor skills. Thanks so much for the feedback. DMX scheduled for 4/4/22!

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Mar 10, 2022 09:13AM kotchaj wrote:

ecdeluca-I had sleeveless cotton gowns, I get too hot, but did have tie robes and zipper ones. I did a SMX and put that arm in first. Since you are DMX, it will be different for you. I also didn't do silky pjs, because I'd probably slide out of bed, plus they're too hot for me, lol.

Chemotherapy 6/7/2021 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 6/15/2021 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 2/9/2022 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Left breast, Lymph nodes Targeted Therapy 2/22/2022 Verzenio Dx IDC: Mucinous/IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, 20/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery Lymph node removal (Left): Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy (Left): Modified Radical Chemotherapy Other
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Jun 3, 2022 11:26PM minustwo wrote:

Bumping this to move it back to the top of the active list (if such a thing still works)

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Jun 7, 2022 11:02AM beebee22 wrote:

I had unilateral mastectomy with DIEP flap end of last mth. This is what I think sufficient for the ICU and ward:

  1. Hair band
  2. Facial cleanser + sponge
  3. Serum + Moisturiser
  4. Breast pillow
  5. Power bank
  6. Laptop/ ipad/ any gadget that u can watch Netflix or any saved drama/ movies.
I was discharged 4th day post-op. At home, I have at least 3 pillows with me when in bed: two for the head...and one for the leg. I have a recliner at home which is quite useful. I have a chair in my bathroom, useful for showering and the chair is useful when I do my morning grooming, i.e. brushing teeth and washing face. As the abdomen scars is pretty low, I don't wear underwear at home, I am with my compression bra and SARUNG most of the time. So, may be get yourself a few pairs of sports bra and SARUNG too.

Get yourself hydrated, so may be a few water tumblers, always ask the one who take care of you to fill up the bottles.

Surgery 5/27/2022 Lymph node removal (Left): Sentinel; Mastectomy (Left): Nipple Sparing, Skin Sparing; Reconstruction (Left): DIEP flap Dx DCIS, Left, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jun 18, 2022 03:20PM - edited Jun 19, 2022 12:17PM by moderators

This Post was deleted by moderators.
BRCA1+ / Nipple delay 10/20/20 / PBM OTM expanders 10/28/20
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Jun 19, 2022 04:09AM moderators wrote:

britinpas, that's very generous of you, thank you! Maybe you can post your comment in the following thread, where you will find people from your local area: Topic: Anyone in So Ca area?

Check out this forum too, a place to donate & trade breast cancer items: BCO Free-Cycle: Give or Trade Items Related to Breast Cancer

Good luck, and again thank you for your generosity!

The Mods

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