1. Keep a notebook with all of your questions, and the answers as you receive them. There is no question that is too trivial. 2. If you’re going to Columbia for surgery with Dr. Gross, THIS SHOULD PROBABLY BE NUMBER ONE ON YOUR LIST. Contact Pat Dukes, email@example.com. She’s a resident as well as a godsend, and provides invaluable information for those traveling to Columbia. 3. You don’t buy every contraption you hear about on the surfacehippy site. Many are helpful, but not necessary. You know yourself, and your house. My biggest obstacle is living in a small town home with 15 narrow stairs separating the kitchen and the bedrooms/shower. Nothing short of a remodel can change that. The physical therapist in the hospital worked with me extensively on how to get by at home. 4. I do recommend: a. Get at least one raised toilet seat. There are several different kinds. There are just the seats which are raised, and may or may not have arm rests. ü First, you will need the armrests after surgery. They will need to be high enough for you to reach back to in order to support your ascent and descent. ü Second, If you get one of these wider seats, make sure the seat is split. To put it bluntly, wiping yourself on these special seats is tough when you’re feeling fine. After the surgery, forget it. ü For other bathrooms in the house I bought 2 stands that just provide arm support. I even used them daily before I left to make sure I could raise and lower my body without ANY muscles from the waist down. If nothing else, it makes for interesting workout equipment. I ordered them from Skymall.com for about $60 each. (They even come with a magazine rack!) The link is: http://www.skymall.com/shopping/detail.htm?pid=102125538&c=102114018 b. Buy compression stockings before you go. Talk to an orthopedic specialist, podiatrist or your primary care physician as to the strength of the compression you should get. Some physicians use them, some don’t. They’re not cheap – around $40 – however, I really wish I had known about them. They would have prevented an ER trip when I returned home. c. Many surface hippies have needed some kind of recliner for sleeping, some of whom have spent nearly $200 for the LaFuma. I tried that, and found it to be like cheap patio furniture that sagged. While it’s usually nice to come home to your own bed –a recliner (La-Z-Boy, or even chaise lounge) allows you to sleep with minimal pressure on the incision, and prevents you from turning over, with your operated leg going over and above the other (which is not a pleasant situation, to under-state the case). The advantage to the recliner is that it won’t let you turn over. The disadvantage is that you have to sleep sitting up. d. An elevated Aerobed has been a godsend for me (better than recliner). It minimizes the pressure on painful parts, and allows my husband a modicum of sleep! e. A heating pad. With all the ice you’ll have, it allows you to break even body temperature wise! f. If you’re going to Dr. Gross, take an extra duffel bag to hold all the supplies he gives you. g. While we are all very different, I’ve heard many say they can’t read much after story. I recommend downloading novels from your local public library onto your MP3. They’re great for when you’re awake, can’t take another minute of TV, have watched all your Netflix, you’re sitting in the airport, etc. h. If you live in a multi-level home, I suggest getting 2 of the tools that are so helpful – grabber, shoe horn, sock tool, etc. Most medical supply places sell them for about $25, and I’ve found the general rule to be that whatever I need is not on the same floor as I am. 5. I highly recommend taking care of a will and a durable medical power of attorney before you leave, and bringing several copies with you. Your surgeon, the pre-op people at the hospital and the nursing staff will need copies of this. I’d bring more just in case. 6. If at all possible, particularly for the return trip, upgrade your airline seats to first class. The leg room is worth it. As an aside, confirm orally & GET AL L E-MAIL CONFIRMATIONS that you are on first class. The United Airlines call centers in Mumbai, or wherever, do not have a vested interest in getting it right for you. 7. Before leaving home for your surgery, arrange in both your kitchen and bathroom the things you are most likely to need/use when you return. It is best to have them at waist level or above. The “grabber” won’t lift jars, etc. If you’re a neat freak, put them in plastic storage drawers. For a while, it takes a LOT of energy to do the most basic things. 8. If you take several medications or have specific allergies, prepare a list of these and bring 10 copies with you. Include the brand name, the generic name, the dosage, the prescribing physician, and how often you take it. Provide the doctor’s office, the hospital, the nursing station, etc., with copies. Get the doctor to write on the orders that you’ll take your own meds. It will save you money and aggravation. As long as the doctor has the list, knows what you’re taking, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to take your own medications. 9. Remember the usual stuff, like holding mail, canceling papers, etc. Make a checklist of everything you take with you. Keep one copy in your luggage, and one with the papers you’ll be carrying with you. This comes in handy because you move from hotel to hospital to hotel, and because airlines don’t often get everything to where it’s supposed to be.