Frequently Asked Questions (or at least questions asked by me). There is no particular order. I may color code questions by category as I add to the list.
1. Do I need to rent a hotel room for my spouse for the week?
- No! We put in a timeshare request for the week at the Hyatt dowtown. The only time my husband used it was to shower twice. When I decided that I wasn't comfortable taking either a subway or a cab to my surgery on Monday morning, we booked a room for two nights (Sunday and Monday) at the Best Western at Longwood (cost with parking about $200/night with medical rate). So I stayed there with Mike on Sunday night, then he had a place close enough to go back and forth all day Monday and Monday night. On Tuesday he just stayed with me on a cot in my room. He said it was not uncomfortable and actually more comfortable than some pull-out beds. We fretted over the cost of a hotel room for the week and were thrilled when the timeshare came through. The only down side was when my surgery got moved. Timeshares are not flexible. Since this was a hotel room exchange I did call and they accommodated us. If we had known to ask about a cot early on or knew the cot was comfortable we would not have even thought about the hotel room. Beth Israel is very accommodating and resourceful.
- Absolutely essential for showering alone was the marsupial pouch. I only needed it until I was down to one drain. For showering I put a steady chair in the shower and used the hose. It was very much like showering at the hospital.
- I wondered this too, UNTIL I saw how puffy my hands were from the IV fluids. My hands, particularly my left hand was about the size of a baseball mitt. For the first couple of days I don't think I moved them very much, not sure why. But as soon as I could I started moving them around which helped with the swelling. What really helped was being unhooked from the IV.
- This is a very broad question; however once you are in your hospital room and out of recovery there is some routine to your day. Early in the day your doctors visit, not all the first tier, but many of the people involved in your care. Then there is the person who takes vitals. Then the nursing staff does a staff change and your night nurse will introduce you to your day nurse. About this time your pills are brought in, which for me was Percocet, antibiotic, aspirin, Colace and possible Sennakot. Later in the day they came with a needle full of Heparin which was injected into my thigh. Let me tell you, I used to be squirmish around needles. But after this experience getting an IV into very tiny veins doesn't seem like much pain at all. Even after my IV was pulled, I still had to keep the needle hooked up in my arm. During all of this you can order room service for your meals. No one will come in and tell you it's time to order food. On day one they give you a menu and you just use the phone to call. The food is actually pretty good. Plus, my husband, who rarely left my room, was able to order from the menu as well. It was nice being able to share meals. Early on, I had to call a nurse each time I wanted to get out of bed, but as time went on my husband was able to do that for me.
- Maybe I was in worse shape than most, but I really didn't need much of what I brought. Chapstick was good. A hair dryer would have been nice once I could shower, but not essential. My own little fuzzy socks were better than the loose-fitting hospital socks. Other than that I wore a johnny. When I went walking they put another johnny over my shoulders to give me some privacy. Not that I would have cared, but it was a nice gesture. I did use some Oil of Olay facial wipes the day before I could shower. I took books and friends gave me magazines, but I wasn't really able to read - it was hard to focus. The tv was on the first day all day - it was all about the flooding in RI and MA. After that we turned it on only for the shows we like and then we typically fell asleep before they finished. For me having my little point and shoot camera was essential. I hadn't realized that I would blog the whole journey, but would rather just have the photos for me.
- Why not! It keeps loved one informed and it is a great way of tracking your progress. I plan to turn my blog into a blook (book) when I have finished with all the stages of my reconstruction. Then I plan to leave the blog online for others who may just be beginning their own journey. I know how much it helped me to follow the blog of a friend who had had a PBM with DIEP a few weeks before me.
Will I be able to climb stairs?
What will I feel like?
What do I really need at the hospital?
How do I handle a long ride home?