Three years ago,
my mom underwent major surgery to remove a brain tumor.
The day of her surgery felt like the longest day of my
life. Because she didnít have any family members in the
area, I was going to be her primary caregiver. She
worried how I would be able to handle things by myself.
It was an emotionally draining experience, but I had
prepared myself for the long wait.
Prior to the surgery, I prepared a
backpack filled with items that I would need for the
long day. To help with my momís recovery, I needed to
remain strong, both physically and emotionally. My
backpack was my recovery room survival kit.
If someone you love will be
undergoing major surgery, it might be helpful to have
your own survival kit. The day of surgery can be a
traumatic experience for both the patient and the
caregiver. If you make adequate preparations, you can
make yourself as comfortable and alert as possible.
My own kit included the following
Notepad and pen:
The patient will receive a lot of instructions regarding
post-operative procedures such as medications and wound
care. You and the patient may experience information
overload. It will be helpful to jot down notes as soon
as the nurse or doctor gives you those instructions. If
certain instructions are vague, ask follow-up questions
before the patient is discharged.
Chocolate or energy bar: You may be so stressed
that you will forget to eat. You will need to keep your
energy level up. A piece of chocolate has enough
caffeine for a temporary boost. An energy or protein bar
has enough calories to substitute for a small meal. You
can also carry a bag of nuts or a banana. If you donít
have an appetite for cafeteria food, keep some snacks in
This may seem obvious, but water is an essential. You
donít want to dehydrate yourself with too much coffee or
soda. Also, you donít want to pester the nurses for a
glass of water. Right after surgery, the patient will
not be able to take water for a few hours. However, you
still need to keep yourself hydrated.
That one phone number:
As a caregiver, you need to remain physically and
emotionally strong. When youíre feeling overwhelmed,
donít forget to ask for help. Everyone has that one
phone number to call. It can be a family member, friend,
or mentor. You donít have to do everything by yourself.
When I thought the pressure was too much, I called my
best friend to share my fears and anxieties. Just a five
minute conversation can work wonders.
If you are going
to be a caregiver, be prepared and bring your own
essentials. In my momís case, the actual procedure
lasted about five hours. She was awake by the time they
rolled her into the Intensive Care Unit. I waited in the
hospital lobby until they allowed me to see her. When I
walked into her ICU room, I wasnít sure what to expect.
She looked up, saw me, and waved. I waved back, and I
knew everything was going to be okay.
Hana Kim is a freelance writer
living in Garden Grove, California.
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