Author Topic: Packing suggestions etc.  (Read 4377 times)

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Packing suggestions etc.
« on: May 20, 2013, 08:30:20 PM »
Iím a type A person, and I probably thought way too much about what to pack to travel from Cleveland to South Carolina for surgery with Dr. Gross.  I wrote a lot, but maybe it will help one of you get ready for the trip.  I had my surgery about a month ago, and I had an excellent experience with Dr. Gross and his staff.

Packing to fly for surgery:
I came up with a system when I packed that would make things easier after the surgery.  I was going to travel with my Dad, and I wanted to make it simple for him to find things for me and less embarrassing (bras and underwear Ė yikes!  ;D).  I used a number system on different bags that I packed into my suitcase.  I kept the numbered list with the contents of the bags.  I used plastic grocery bags, but you might think of something more sophisticated.  I used leftover ďhello my name isĒ stickers that you wear at conventions to mark the bags.  One bag had the toiletries that I would need for a shower.  Another had my makeup bag and other random things that I needed to get ready for the day.  I had complete outfits or pajamas in the other bags.  It was great because I could ask my dad for ďbag 4Ē without trying to explain what to dig for in the suitcase.  You donít really need to pack that much.  You might need one or two days of clothes to wear in the hospital though.  The occupational therapist will come to show you how to shower and get dressed, so I wasnít in a hospital gown the whole time like I was expecting.

I wasnít sure what would be the most comfortable to wear after the surgery.  Would I want to wear loose sweatpants or dresses?  This is what worked for me.  I found that I preferred loose sweatpants especially when I was in the hospital. I loved wearing my Hue pajama pants.  The reason why I liked pants better is because the Polar Care ice unit is something that you actually wear in bed.  You'll wake up wearing it after surgery.  One strap goes around your waist to hold it in place, and the other strap goes around the leg using Velcro on the side that had the operation.  A dress gets in the way because the strap that goes around your leg canít be used without hiking up the dress or leaving that strap off.  I love my Polar Care machine, and Iím still using it about a month after surgery.

Iíve read that a lot of people like those silky athletic pants to help slide in and out of bed or the car.  I tried a pair of athletic pants that have the snaps down the side, and the snaps bothered me.  I think if itís warm outside then the menís silky basketball shorts might be perfect.  I think itís all up to personal preferences.

The question as to what underwear to pack also plagued me.  Ladies, Iím sure youíll understand this!  I wondered what would be comfortable over the incision.  I was surprised that the incision never bothered me.  Iíve read that some women wear boxers.  I found that loose underwear that I had from the beginning of my pregnancy worked out being the most comfortable for me.  The boxers just felt too strange to wear.  I donít think the style of underwear matters as much just as long as it is a little loose.  My incision is where the seam on the side of a pair of pants is located.  I brought three types of underwear with me just in case!  I might as well comment on makeup here too.  I wanted to wear makeup when I left the room for the group physical therapy.  It made me feel like myself and made me happy.  It gave me something to do while lounging around in bed too.

Packing space considerations:
Another packing dilemma was how to get the Polar Care unit home.  I decided that I wanted to pack it in my suitcase rather than try to carry it onto the plane.  I didnít want to worry about lugging around a box.  If you are looking to do the same thing, here are the approximate dimensions of the box: 13 inches long, 12.5 inches high, and 9.5 inches deep.  I found a suitcase that could fit the box and left extra room for it.

What I forgot to plan for is bringing the hip kit home.  You'll get information on how to get the hip kit during your pre-op appointment.  The reacher/grabber tool to pick things up was too big to fit into our suitcases.  Maybe someone can comment on how long the reacher tool is thatís in the hip kit.

Iíve spent a lot of time on crutches before surgery, and I'm still using them a month after surgery.  I think the amount of time you use them varies quite a bit.  If you have time before you leave for surgery, you might want to try out the different types of crutches.  I prefer the elbow crutches which are sometimes called forearm crutches, Canadian crutches, or Euro crutches.  They arenít as common but I just saw some on Amazon.  Elbow crutches donít go under your armpits, and Iíve found them to be more comfortable.  The elbow crutches that have smooth plastic cuffs are my favorite.  Also, a cushioned grip for your hands is nice.  I had a second set of elbow crutches that had cuffs that seemed like a grippy plastic, and it was hard to slide around my shirt sleeves.  I just spoke to another recent surface hippy, and she wished she would have gotten the elbow crutches.  I brought mine with me to South Carolina.  Remember to bring your crutches if you already have them.

Youíre always going to be looking for places to prop the crutches in the hotel and when you get home.  The thing that helped me a lot was to open a top drawer in the kitchen or bathroom in order to create a place to prop the crutches.  The top drawer by my stove was constantly left open to prop my crutches while I cooked.  I kept one of the grabber tools from the hip kit on the countertop where I could hold the counter and get to it if I dropped my crutches.  Iím still amazed at how often I would drop both crutches!   Also, try to figure out how you will get dropped crutches (especially when youíre starting to use one crutch) when youíre in the bathroom.

The car:
The thing that seemed most important to me after the surgery was having a rental car with a passenger seat that I could move way back towards the back seat then lean back.  I had a hard time getting the foot of the operated leg into the car because it seemed hard to bend.  I felt like I had a peg leg, and I had no idea this would be a challenge right after surgery.  Also, I would have found it hard to get into a vehicle like an SUV or anything where youíd have to step up a bit to get into it.  When youíre at the rental car lot, you can always ask for a different car.  I let the agent know I was in town for surgery, and they helped me find a car that was perfect for after surgery.  I tried two different cars.  You can practice what it would be like to try to get into the car after surgery when you get your rental car. 

I got the idea to bring a large black trash bag with me from someone else on this website.  It provides a slippery surface to help you get in and out of a car.  Ask the physical therapists, and they might give you a white slider sheet to use instead.  The one I have is labeled: S.U.P.A. Slide Select Universal Positioning Aid.  If you donít get one, then Iíd recommend making a slight alteration to the garbage bag before you leave home.  Cut the top, bottom, and one side to make it onto what looks like a big book.  When you put it on the passenger seat, have the opening of the garbage bag book facing out the passenger door, and the spine of the ďbookĒ would be towards the driverís seat.  This will help you slide into the car.  The top of the garbage bag book will slide more easily and get a bit crumpled under you, but it really helps get into the car more easily.  Thatís the way the white slider sheet from the physical therapists worked.

Iíd suggest bringing a pair of slip on shoes with you that youíre used to wearing.  I say this because I got a new pair of slip on shoes a week before I was supposed to leave.  I tried walking around in them, and I knew I wasnít as confident or comfortable wearing shoes that werenít broken in yet.

I packed all of my paperwork in a plastic accordion style folder that had six dividers.  I used it a lot as I got ready to leave for surgery.  I labeled my dividers: (1) Flights, (2) Hotel, (3) Car, (4) Directions/Addresses/Phone Numbers, (5) Financial/Insurance/Receipts, and (6) Medical.  There was room before the first divider where I put all sorts of miscellaneous papers.  I was so nervous about the surgery that I didnít want to start losing important papers.  I kept this packet with my dad and I all the time.

Other packing suggestions:
If youíre going to stay in a hotel then I would recommend bringing a dark colored washcloth.  The night before the surgery, you will have to take two showers and wash with a packet of Hibiclens where they will do the surgery.  I was warned at Dr. Grossís office that sometimes the hotels donít like the pink color that the Hibiclens leaves on their white washcloths.

Cell phone
Another thing to think about as you pack is where youíre going to put your cell phone when youíre on crutches.  Iíve spent a long time on crutches before my surgery, and my cell phone was always a problem.  Make sure you have a pocket somewhere if you are glued to your phone like me.  If your pants donít have pockets then you might want to bring a hoodie or sweater with pockets.  I got a cell phone pouch with a lanyard to wear it like a necklace since I was on crutches for so long.  Etsy and Amazon sell them.  Ladies, a cross body handbag is much easier to handle on crutches than many other styles.  I did without a purse, and instead I used a small messenger bag that I could wear cross body to keep my hands free for crutches.  I wanted my dad to be able to carry it for me instead of a purse.

I wasnít sure if I should post this, but hereís the packing list I prepared that might help you get started.  Obviously, yours will be different, but it might give you a place to start.

Accordion folder with all paperwork including forms for Dr. Gross
GPS (or get used to the GPS on your phone)
Wallet with driverís license, insurance cards, credit cards etc.  I took everything else out that wasnít needed
Eye drops (my eyes were very dry after surgery)
Other medications or vitamins for before or after youíre out of the hospital (I had to buy suppositories and Colace while I was in SC.)
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
Shampoo and conditioner
Make-up bag
Small makeup mirror to use while in bed
Baby wipes to stay clean until your first shower (great suggestion from this website!)
Slip on shoes
Paper and pens
Phone, iPad, Kindle etc. and their chargers
Glasses case
Favorite snacks
Hoodie with front pocket to carry cell phone while on crutches
Elbow crutches
Big black trash bag to put on the passenger seat in order to help slide in
Ziploc to put earrings and rings while in surgery
Underwear and bras
Pen and small notepad
Gum for the flight

Preparation for surgery:
I might as well add that I cut my toenails very short before surgery.  I got my hair cut shorter than usual.  I also did a good job of shaving my legs.  I saved a book that I was excited to read for the night before surgery to keep my mind on something else.  A movie would probably help too.

One more thingÖ  You can ask for additional ice packs when youíre in the hospital.  I used two extra ice packs on the top of my leg.  The hospital throws them out after they are used, so I asked to take them with me.  I liked using them in the hotel.  You can also take the grippy socks.  They also let me take the little gray bucket they put under the Polar Care unit that catches drips.  A physical therapist will come out to your car to show you how to get in, and I'd ask for that slider sheet I mentioned before.  Just give it a try and ask.

Best of luck.  Please send me a message if you have any questions!

RH, uncemented Biomet, Dr. Gross & Lee Webb


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Re: Packing suggestions etc.
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2014, 06:46:50 PM »
Hi Christina,
Awesome help here. I'm heading to S.Carolina in a week or two for both hips with Dr. Gross.  Quick question about crutches, are the forearm ones you recommended available from Dr G office or just the armpit style?

Newbie, for now.


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