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Pre and Post Op Must Haves

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,427
edited 01/25/2016 - 2:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

** This is a marked up version of the list that saltzworks (Amy) put together


• Shave, wax, pedicure, manicure, etc. right before surgery. If you have fake nails, think about removing since they may fall off due to anesthesia
• Hair cut
• Dentist
• Update prescription glasses, both reading and regular if you wear contacts since you won’t be wearing contacts much in the hospital or after surgery
• Give all doctor names and numbers to caregiver(s) as well as next to your bed
• Put together phone numbers of all concerned family members and friends on one sheet
• Check with your doctor for handicap sticker
• All grooming/personal supplies waist high to avoid reaching/bending
• Organize essential items at home to be within reach, e.g. telephone, shoes, etc.
• Arrange for care - someone to be with you for most of the first week post-discharge
• Make sure you give your surgeon a list of your regular medications including the dosage amount.
• Give blood prior to surgery and/or family members
• Checks made out for bills, stamped envelopes ready or online payments done in advance
• Have some cash handy for family members to run errands.
• Pet care arranged
• Car keys and house keys given to appropriate caregivers


(check with hospital in case you receive items during stay)
• Button up pajamas
• Back Scratcher, cheap bamboo - invaluable!
• Bathrobe to cover up if use a Johnny
• Hairbrush/Comb
• Toothbrush and toothpaste
• Mouthwash
• Facial wipes
• Body wipes
• Hand Cream
• Facial Cream
• Lip Balm
• Lavender linen spray or Febreze
• For long hair, elastic bands to tie back
• Loose clothing to come home in o Underwear o Front button top o Socks o Comfortable, safe shoes
• Magazine, crosswords, notepad, pencil
• Glasses
• Laptop, if you want - a lot of hospitals have wireless access in the rooms


Food Items
• Soft foods including: Yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, jello cups, pre-made puddings & tapioca, protein bars, cereal, microwave oatmeal, bananas, chicken stock, microwave dinners, frozen pasta entrees, pre-made mashed potatoes, cookies, chocolate, lettuce, salad dressing, cheese, lunch meat, hot dogs, bread, bakery items.
o Check for other soft foods that are healthier than this list ☺o People had a difficult time digesting food. Reports include nausea, increased thirst and fatigue so quick meals were essential.
• Drinks – Plenty of bottled water bedside, Gatorade, Powerade, coke, ginger ale, other soft drinks, yogurt drinks, Ensure or Boost protein drinks, milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, other juices, tea, coffee with cream/sugar/sweetener, Black tea with honey/lemon that soothes the stomach.
• Frozen fruit for blending smoothies in a Magic Bullet or blender
• Protein Powder [will assist with bone fusion, particularly if you cannot chew much]
• Bag of ice – small cubes
• Ice chips to help dry or sore throat
• Flexible and long straws
• Paper plates and plastic cups
• Candy, sugarless gum
• Mints
• Vitamins
• Magic Bullet (or similar blender) for individual servings o It is great for individual blending/smoothies, etc. It is carried in most dept stores, kitchen stores, etc. It is great at blending up ice and much more convenient to have the individual serving size than the full size blender. Magic Bullet also has a website.

Shower and Bathroom Items
• Shower stool to Chair to sit in shower with soap/shampoo/shower gel on another chair for easy reach
• Non-slip mat for shower
• Hand shower
• Long-handled Back scrubber
• Nylon bath poof instead of wash cloth; easier to hold
• Exfoliating skin towel. [Body Shop has these and they are great for rubbing off the dead skin and helping you feel fresh, especially if stuck in bed]
• Toilet riser with or without side handles - $15-$25
• Bedpan if necessary
• Walker and/or cane per doctor

Personal Items
• Deodorant body wipes / wet wipes for freshening up (Drug Store has near the Depends. They are a large size.)
• Pre-moistened facial cleansing cloths
• Dry shampoo $5 from specialty beauty store
• Powder – Shower to Shower or other
• Face cream (I would suggest small sizes)
• Hand cream
• Body lotion for itchy skin
• Lip balm, Chapstick
• Mouthwash
• Throat lozenges / Chloraseptic Spray
• Kleenex
• Wound dressings per doctor
• Thermometer to check temp after surgery
• Stool softener / Suppositories for constipation (Some found they couldn’t keep the pills down and/or they got stomach cramps from the pills)
• Prune Juice taken with a dose of Milk of Magnesia for dire cases of constipation - it takes about 2 hours, then you are good to go (pun intended).

Handy Items
•Grabber/picker – preferably 36” long. Perhaps one in bedroom and one in living room. $10-$25
• Long handled shoe horn. $5
• Grabber-like thing to pull on socks with, or think about wearing flip flops or open-backed shoes.
• Pill Organizer or notepad to keep track of what you need to take when and to make notations of when you take your meds.
• Bedtray
• Bell, cell phone or walkie talkies to contact caregivers
• Microwaveable hot packs –great for aching shoulders, etc.
• Satin sheets for easy sliding in and of bed. Or satin PJ's.
• "Turning sheet" strip of heavy fabric that you put under you so that you can have a signficant other pull to turn you over as needed, particularly good for those first few days.
• Cold packs in freezer prior to surgery
• Phone near the bed. Get a wireless or wireless adapter from Radio Shack o Cellphone and charger o Blackberry, Treo and chargers
• IPod, headphones, charger o Update your playlists
• Books, magazines, audio books, crosswords, Sudoku o Booklight
• Extra batteries for remotes
• Remote controls for TV, DVD, etc.
• Plastic containers to hold and organize items you will use while confined to bed. Also to use after mouthwash or for small trash. o Put all the reading materials, crosswords, pencils, etc. in one. Put personal cleansing items in another.
• Small, lightweight pitcher for water next to bed
• Paper towels near bed
• Small wash basin near bed
• Small bucket for nausea next to bed
• Small garbage bags nearby
• Towel that lies flat on the bed beside you. Put items you may use on top then just pull the towel toward you to retrieve items you can’t reach.
• Extra pillows to help with comfortable positions
• Additional sheets, blankets, pillows near recliner, sofa, chair in living room
• Wheelchair, if necessary
• Recliner, if possible. Some find recliners work, others don't - they can be hard to get out of.
• Think about placing every day items at waist height even if it means storing on counters.
• Pedometer for post-op walking program

• Slip on shoes o Croc shoes with the open back. They are ugly but they are easy to get on, provide great traction, comfortable to wear and were recommended by the hospital.
• Slippers - not too loose with good soles
• Soft socks – NAP socks from Brookstone are awesome & keep your feet warm at night. $20/3 pairs
• Bathrobe
• Pull on pants – make them a size larger so they don’t bother your incision(s); check elastic so it’s not too tight.
• Front buttoned shirts or zipper tops for trips to PT and doctor
• Jogging suits
• Sweat pants
• Yoga pants
• Front button pajamas – numerous sets
• Camisoles or tee shirts to wear under brace, preferably cotton so it breathes. Ladies -try the ones with the bra built in.

Comfort Items
• Lots of pillows, body, small, wedge, cervical, etc.
• 3" memory foam mattress topper pad $100 approx.
• Pressure mattress or pads
• Have plenty of sheets, pillowcases, blankets, washcloths and towels ready for use. o Have sheets, blankets, pillows near a favorite recliner or sofa
• If you are planning on much reading or computer (laptop) work post-op, consider a stand that adjusts in position and height like a hospital bed tray –Brookstone. $150; There are less expensive ones around $60-70. Make sure they fit under your favorite chair.
• Linen spray to freshen sheets and pillow cases. Use lavender scent to relax and help with sleep.

Boredom Relievers
• Laptop
• Magazines, books
• Audio books
• Crosswords
• Sudoku
• IPod (updated with playlists for recovery)
• Nintendo
• DVDs o Order prior to surgery if belong to Netflix or other service

Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 


  • WOW. That is insanely long. I think I have maybe 2 or 3 things off that list. Lol. Grabber, pill organizer, and sweats.

    I feel like an outcast in the crowd. Lol. I really didn't use or need anything, really. I only used the grabber because it was a pain in the A to continuously bend at the knees to pick things up off the floor. Only thing different I really did was have my boyfriend carry the laundry up and down the stairs. I think I lucked out quite a bit in the sense that that's the only thing I really needed help with, and nothing in my house was changed. I am pretty impressed at this ridiculously long list that's crazy detailed. Must have taken someone foreverrrrrr. I would never have even thought of most of those things.

    I'm sure it's extremely helpful for most. Pretty good stuff :)
  • Lo- I am with you on this one. I had hardly any of this and didn't need it. Reachers YES I have 2 sets and a raised toilet set but very little else.
    Oh I do have a troley on wheels to keep necessities on like phone, pills, tissues etc and push around with me.

    I know Saltzworks had a bad time so that is probably why the list is so extensive.

    Sara O:)
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  • It's good, because there are people who are going to have hard times, too, so it's great for there to be a resource for them like this. It's a great list!
  • My husband will be with me the whole recovery time and will be taking care of all the cooking, cleaning and so forth. Also to help me with my shower and get dressed. Due to this what of all of this should be good for me to get?

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,427
    The list was put together almost as a totally inclusive list. Having each item may not be required by everyone. As Lo mentioned, she had only a few things. For my surgeries, I think all I had was a little money for Hospital TVs and when I was home, we just adjusted.

    I would suggest going through the list with your husband, take each item and then figure out, OK, my husband is going to help with that, do I need that item?
    Only you two can really make that final decision

    Good luck
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • Dilauro I will do just that. My husband and I was going over some of the things on the list. Also we have contacted our cable provider to have cable installed in our bedroom for when I want to lie down and watch tv since our couch isn't as you would say the greatest. :) :)

  • Pre-surgery:

    A good meal and a beer the night before.


    Lazy-boy type chair. Heating Pad. Xbox.

  • has been with me also for recovery.
    The only things I had bought that I would say are a must are:
    satin sheets
    laptop bed table (got mine at Bed/bath/beyond for like $30)

    aside from that, hubby has helped with everything else :)

    I also didn't need anything at the hospital except
    lipbalm & slippers. I was too sick to need anything else.

    I think the list is great for thought prior to going in though. I know there are some that would need more than I have. If you will be on your own during recovery, you will require more thought as to what you may need.
  • The biggest help for me the first couple days was my recliner, but after a week I am sending it back. My laptop and puzzle games off of it to entertain myself. Pudding was all I could eat for the first day and a half. OH and who can forget the nice warm fleece button up the front PJs. But besides that everything at my house is pretty much the same.

    ACDF: c5-6, c6-7 fusion on January 9th,2009
  • Take a responsible person with you for your stay at the hospital. They can be your lifeline while you are incapacitated. They can make sure your medication needs are being met and can help move your pillows for comfort. I had great nurses who asked all the time if I needed anything but some hospitals are not always staffed as well as we would like them to be. People who have pain med tolerance are a different patient with different and unusual needs. Just my opinion but I made sure I had someone with me until I was comfortable being alone.
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