Recovery Room Kit

By Hana Kim


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 essentials:

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 your bag.

Bottled water: 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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