In February of 2021, I had my first surgery ever.
I went in for an exploratory laparoscopy to look and see if my doctor could find endometriosis (spoiler alert: he did!)
There was a lot of build up for this surgery as it was my first one ever and the first time I’d be hospitalized (staying longer than for an ER visit). I had no idea what to expect or pack.
I did a TON of research and had lots of conversations with both my surgical team and my primary (who happens to be a functional/holistic specialist). Now that I’ve been through it, I am SO happy with everything I packed to the hospital + here’s everything I would bring if I had to do it all over again!
- A nice duffel bag makes all the difference. I really like this one from Target because it holds it shape well and honestly is one of the highest quality duffel bags I’ve owned. I feel like I have the authority to say that as a child of divorce who has been through many a duffel bag. 😉
- Hand Sanitizer. This is all around the hospital, but it was nice to have on hand as well (especially in 2021).
- A Portable Phone Charger. This is really nice to have once you’re in recovery, especially if you end up staying overnight or being admitted.
- Collagen. I packed travel packets of Vital Proteins collagen in my hospital bag to start drinking as soon as I woke up from surgery. Collagen has been known to protect the gastric mucosal lining and improve the integrity of the gut, which is key to healing post op.
- A Pill Cutter/Crusher. Have trouble swallowing pills? They’ll likely have you take oral meds at the hospital, so I’d recommend grabbing a pill cutter/crusher to help you get your meds down!
- Manuka Honey Cough Drops. Typically, once you’re under general anesthesia during your laparoscopy, your surgical team while place an intubator down your throat to allow you to breathe (and they’ll remove it before you wake up). This can leave your throat feeling raw when you wake up. I found these Manuka Honey cough drops to be helpful when I woke up from my surgery.
- Chapstick. Similarly, your lips may be chapped post op. It’s nice to have chapstick close by.
- Electrolyte Packets. These aren’t necessary because you’ll likely be hooked up to fluids to stay hydrated, but it may be good practice to have an electrolyte packet with you for before and after surgery to stay hydrated! I like LMNT packets because they’re significantly less sugary than most electrolyte rich drinks.
- Snacks. Typically, once you wake up from surgery, the nurses will encourage you to start eating to start the healing process and because if you’re taking pain meds, you’ll want to do that with a full stomach. If you have food allergies, the hospital may not carry food that works for you. I brought things like GF crackers, bananas, + some paleo bars. My husband also went out and grabbed a soup for me that worked with my diet. It just may be good to have an idea of what’s close by or let the hospital know if you have any dietary restrictions! You can order organic and allergy-friendly snacks and groceries from here (and get 25% off your first order using this link).
- Tea, tea, and more tea. Okay, when I heard that gas pain was a thing post op, I did not understand how bad it would be. Wow is all I have to say. Peppermint tea + walking were the ONLY things that helped. You can’t pack enough Peppermint tea! It also may be nice to have ginger/turmeric tea on hand for any post op nausea or some Parsley tea to help you if you’re having trouble urinating post op.
- Gas-X and/or Activated Charcoal. While the gas pain from surgery isn’t necessarily all in your bowels, taking Gas-X the first couple days post op may help you get things moving and out of you. I’m way more “natural” and I still downed a lot of it in my first 24 hours post op because let me tell you… I was desperate. However, if you’d rather not take Gas-X, it could be nice to have Activated Charcoal on hand. Charcoal is a binder and a lot of the gas will bind to the charcoal and exit your body. This was particularly helpful when I reacted poorly to the pain meds I was prescribed. Charcoal cleared that right out (use this under a doctor’s guidance because charcoal will cancel out any meds you’re taking – you need to take it at least 2 hours apart from other meds, food, etc.)
- Pads. You will bleed a good amount after surgery (for me, it was basically like a period). You’ll want to have a good amount of pads on hand. These are my favorite fragrance and chlorine free pads.
- Socks. Every hospital is different. Mine gave me grip socks, so my feet were pretty warm, but it doesn’t hurt to bring warm socks with you! You’ll also probably want compression socks for your recovery period – my hospital didn’t give them to me. Here are the ones I ordered. This helps to make sure there aren’t any blood flow/circulation issues after surgery.
- Nightgowns. After surgery, you won’t even want sweatpants touching your incisions. Nightgowns are the way to go! I had none before surgery and grabbed a couple of cheap ones on Amazon. They’ve been a lifesaver!
- Sturdy underwear. You’ll want something bigger since your tummy will be a bit bloated. I sized up and got 2 pairs of these “period underwear” on Amazon. They worked like a charm for recovery!
- Toiletry bag. In the event that you stay overnight, it’s nice to have a toiletry bag with the essentials! Think toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, wipes. I wasn’t up for a full shower until week 2 post op, so I really wouldn’t worry about bringing shampoo/conditioner. Just a couple of things to freshen up!
- Cozy robe. It’s nice to have a robe to put over your nightgown when you leave the hospital so you’re cozy on the way home + you don’t have to wear a bra! I pretty much lived in my robe the entire month after surgery because recovery is no joke and it was a comfort to me.
- Essential oils. I forgot to mention this in the video, but I packed my essential oils and travel diffuser with me to calm down in recovery (my body was in shock when I woke up). I was so glad I brought them!
I have a separate post coming out specifically for recovery tips + what to expect after a laparoscopy pretty shortly, but wanted to mention a few things that may be helpful for recovering after the hospital!
- A stool softener. Even if you go multiple times a day, trust me, you’re going to want a stool softener. General anesthesia and pain meds can all be very harsh on your body. Most of us need a little help to get things moving again (and then you can back off of it). Some gentle stool softeners are Colace, Dulcolax, and when worse comes to worst, Lactulose always gets me going to the bathroom again.
- Heating pads or hot water bottles. Because you’ll be lying down in your recliner or bed for a while to recover from surgery, your lower back and butt can get pretty sore. A heating pad on that area can help (and help get poo moving too). Heat on your gas pain areas (shoulders/ribs) brings a ton of relief too! Sensitive to EMFs? I’d recommend a hot water water bottle or this EMF free heating pad.
- Pregnancy pillow. If you don’t have a recliner to sleep in, you’ll need to find a way to sleep sitting up (it’s more comfortable for gas pain, acid reflux, etc.) A pregnancy pillow works really nicely for this and I haven’t been able to sleep without it post op!
If you’ve had a laparoscopy before, would you add anything to this list? Let me know in the comments below!