First of all: I am so very sorry that you have to read a post about mastectomy preparation.
As a cancer survivor, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to make the decision to have a mastectomy.
But you’ve made it this far.
You have made the heart-wrenching decision to have a mastectomy. You’ve been scouring the internet for tips about what you will need for recovery.
Now that it’s time to prepare for your mastectomy day, you might be a little unsure of what you will ACTUALLY need at the hospital.
I hope that the tips in this post will help you prepare for your mastectomy so that you can be as comfortable as possible at the hospital.
Please note that these are purely suggestions based on personal experience: One survivor to another. This is in no way meant to override any medical advice that you’ve been given by your doctors in regards to mastectomy preparation. Please refer to their recommendations first and foremost when deciding what you will need at the hospital.
One more disclaimer: I have included links to some specific products to help you know what I’m talking about. Since I am a member of the Amazon Associates Program, I choose to make all of my Amazon links affiliate links in order to create consistency across my website. This means that I do receive a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. However, my primary intention is to be helpful.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s finish your mastectomy preparation and get your bag packed!
MASTECTOMY PREPARATION: PACKING YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
BOOK OR OTHER PASTIME
My mastectomy was considered a “same day surgery” even though I was staying overnight for pain control. My guess is that yours will be considered the same.
If you have ever had a same day surgery, then you will know that there are often delays prior to your surgery time. (Mine was HOURS.)
Your nerves will probably be on high alert during this last window of time before surgery, so be sure to bring something to help you distract yourself if there is a delay.
You definitely WON’T need something for after the procedure, since you’ll be spending most of your time waking up from anesthesia.
EARPLUGS OR HEADPHONES
Once you ARE awake, however, you will find that the acute care wing is a noisy place. Earplugs or headphones can come in handy, especially if you have a roommate complaining about a “first world” health ailment.
“Yeah, sorry you’re losing your tonsils, Karen. I just had my breasts removed.”
It’s an emotional time! I am not a woe-is-me type of person, but I was surprised how often those thoughts crept to the surface when I had to listen to everything else going on in the acute care wing.
Do yourself a favor and drown it out.
If you bring headphones, definitely opt for wireless so that you don’t get tangled up in your IV tubes and monitor wires.
I totally survived without a neck pillow, but I remember thinking at the time that it might have been helpful.
You can’t sleep totally flat after a mastectomy, so it is nice to have a neck pillow to help you get comfortable in your mostly-upright position, both in the hospital and once you’re home.
I’d say it’s not necessary, though, since you can adjust the hospital bed and use other pillows to help you get comfortable.
Make sure to have your prescriptions filled prior to surgery (if possible) and bring them to the hospital.
The surgeon and nurses will double-check that you have everything you need and they can refer to them when giving instructions to your companion.
The gown that you wear in the hospital will have a means of drain storage, but you will need some way to keep your drains from dangling when you head home. Safety pins, lanyard, drain apron, anything.
If you read my mastectomy recovery post, you will see that I highly recommend the Amoena drain camisole (pictured above). This is what I used and I liked that I could wear it under all of my other clothes and pajamas.
Drain robes look to be awesome and comfortable as well, but I personally wanted to have something I could use when leaving the house for appointments.
OUTFIT TO WEAR HOME
When it’s time to get dressed and go home, it’s definitely a bit of a challenge.
Bring a soft shirt that buttons or zips up the front and pants that are EXCEPTIONALLY easy to pull on. Slip-on shoes or slippers are ideal for footwear. (Slippers also come in handy if you don’t like the idea of walking around the hospital room in your surgery socks.)
Basically, imagine yourself putting your outfit on someone else, since you will probably have help getting dressed. If it seems easy enough to do that, then you’re probably good to go.
Also, keep in mind that you’ll probably be living and sleeping in this outfit for at least 24 hours after going home. Keep it cozy.
Side note: To save space, you could totally just wear your going-home outfit TO the hospital, since you’ll change into your surgical gown as soon as you get there.
Bring any toiletries that you need to help you feel human the morning that you leave the hospital. (You definitely won’t be able to use underarm deodorant, so there’s no need to bring that.)
Brushing your teeth takes some effort right after surgery, so bring an electric toothbrush if you have one. (Not essential, but definitely helpful.)
Whether it’s a spouse, parent, coworker or friend, be sure you bring someone with you for the duration of your stay, especially at the time of discharge.
I was so heavily medicated that I had no idea when I needed to take my next pills after leaving the hospital. Having someone around to take note of the discharge directions and med administration was essential.
This is definitely more than just having a ride home. Choose someone that you can trust to keep track of these things.
This isn’t technically something that you need at the hospital, but you will definitely need to have a pillow in the car when you go home.
Riding in the car after a mastectomy is not pleasant. You will need some pillows to help you endure the seatbelt and the jostling of the car.
They sell mastectomy-specific pillows (like the one pictured above), but I did fine with a bed pillow.
I think that’s everything you should have in your hospital bag for a mastectomy, based on my experience.
Again, I’m so VERY sorry that you have to experience this surgery, but I hope that this list helps you in your final stage of mastectomy preparation.
Be sure to check out this post for the things that I found helpful at home following my mastectomy.
Have you had a mastectomy? What would you add to this list? Please leave a comment below!