What do I need to have on hand after abdominal surgery?
October 10, 2012 5:03 PM   Subscribe

You had a minor laparoscopic abdominal surgery. What supplies did you find most helpful? What items did you think you needed but ended up regretting?

I will be having a minor abdominal surgery soon. While there is always a chance that “minor” could become “major” let’s focus on minor here.

Bonus points if you lived alone, because that will closely match my situation. I’ve done a bit of Googling on this, but most of what I find includes scary stories about the surgery being converted to a laparotomy, and of the findings being more serious than I’m hoping for. And also finding some things that are expensive and/or have no long term benefit to having (see below). I’d prefer not to buy anything that isn’t needed. I do have enough time to scope out Goodwill for some larger items if they really are necessary.

This is the list of what I have or plan to make/get so far:
  • Water in .5 liter bottles to keep by bedside
  • Jello
  • Soup
  • Casserole/lasagna in servings in the freezer to thaw and reheat on a schedule
  • Gatorade and ginger ale
  • A 4 slot pill organizer to keep track of whether I've taken my meds so I don't over or under dose on anything.
  • Hard candies for throat irritation
  • A pair of elastic waistband flannel pants
  • A heating pad for the shoulder discomfort associated with the gas
  • Ginger cookies because ginger chews are gross
  • Borrowing many seasons of bad 80s sitcoms
  • As many pairs of mesh underwear as the hospital will give me.
Items I see suggested but have my doubts about
  • Butt wiping stick
  • Toilet seat raiser in case I have difficultly lifting my butt off the seat? My abs are toast after not being able to do anything more strenuous than walking for the past 6 months.
  • Shower chair (I've seen this before at Goodwill, not squeamish about scrubbing to sanitize.)
  • Wet wipes for cleaning myself in lieu of showering
  • A grabber stick for reaching things up high or dropped
Email address in case you have a surgery story you'd like to share privately:
I've seen every previous question involving surgery. Some have been helpful, but not close to what I'm asking, because they're all about how to take care of people post surgery, or what to add in care packages for people. I'm just assembling the essentials. Most involve very different surgeries.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A pair of elastic waistband flannel pants

If the incision(s) are near the place where you wear the waist of your pants, you will also want a stack of 4x5 gauze bandages to fold over the waistband to prevent any sticking to the dressings on the incision(s). This goes double if you will have surgical staples and will not cover the area totally after a few days. You will probably also want more than one pair of these pants if you will be unable to do laundry within the first day or two.


Docusate sodium stool softeners if you expect to be taking opioids afterward and/or be largely immobile for a period of time.

Depending on the time you will cover the incisions and how often the dressings will be changed, you may want a beard trimmer to keep nearby pubic/belly/leg hair to a very short length so the dressings don't adhere well to it (you do not want to shave the area closely, particularly with a blade, to avoid ingrown hairs and other irritation in the area to be dressed).

A large foam wedge pillow (washable cover) to prop yourself up into various positions as you find most comfortable for your abdomen.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:13 PM on October 10, 2012

I had major abdominal surgery, and did not regret getting a raised toilet seat for one second. It was great for both sitting down and standing up. YMMV, depending on both surgery and toilet.

If you'll have a wound with bandages you'll need to change, you might want to get some of those supplies in advance. If you'll need surgical tape and you have sensitive skin, consider getting a couple of kinds in case one proves to be irritating.

Also, socks or easy to put on slippers with treads. Last thing you want to worry about is sliding on the floor. Hospitals sometimes provide them.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:17 PM on October 10, 2012

I have had minor laparoscopic abdominal surgery to remove a perforated IUD. There was a screwup in the surgery that resulted in a serious laceration to the cervix and a lot of stitches. I also had a nursing infant and a toddler at the time.

The single most helpful thing to me was a collection of Veronica Mars DVDs to watch to alleviate the boredom of sitting around in bed for a few days while perfectly alert and lucid, plus a partner who was willing to bring me food and beverages. I didn't research ahead of time and didn't have eg. candies for my throat, but it's a great idea.

I don't recall having any issues at all with toileting or showering.

In my experience, the shoulder pain really took me by surprise, and as I recall, I wound up taking eg. ibuprofen for that. It hurt far, far more than the incision did -- but then, the incision hardly bothered me at all. Even with a baby kicking right at it. The only times it really, really bothered me were 1) lying down and (especially) getting out of bed; and to a lesser extent, 2) going up and down stairs. The aching in my cervix, on the other hand, took several weeks to resolve.
posted by Andrhia at 5:41 PM on October 10, 2012

Firm pillows are given to cardiac (open heart surgery) patients to hug when they want to do anything that requires using abdominal/thorax muscles IE get out of bed, get into bed, sit on toilet, etc. The hugging and firmness essentially stabilizes the region.

Anyway, I used their idea after my laparoscopic surgery and it really helped!

posted by MansRiot at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Keep the sitcoms really bad, as in, not funny at all. Laughing will HURT for a few days, so you want to avoid it. You want entertainment that is engaging and amusing, but NOT hilarious.

You need a padded toilet seat. The general anesthesia and pain klllers will knock your bowels offline for a at least a day, and you may need to hang out on or very, very near the toilet for quite a few consecutive hours. Set up the bathroom so you can be comfortable there for a while.
posted by Corvid at 5:46 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Firm pillows are given to cardiac (open heart surgery) patients to hug when they want to do anything that requires using abdominal/thorax muscles IE get out of bed, get into bed, sit on toilet, etc. The hugging and firmness essentially stabilizes the region.
Seconding this. I had my appendix out in June and was given a small pillow at the hospital for this purpose. Keep such a pillow within arm's reach at all times, since you'll want it if you find yourself about to cough, sneeze, or laugh. Squeezing the pillow dramatically reduces the discomfort caused by doing those things.
posted by ddbeck at 5:49 PM on October 10, 2012

This is a little more "things I wish I'd known before my minor laparoscopic operation," but if you're shopping in preparation anyways:

You might want to find out how long you'll be unable to carry anything heavier than 10 lbs - if it's six weeks or the standard, stocking up on your heavier supplies (bottled water, pet food, gallons of milk or juice, laundry detergent, whatever it is) before your surgery will help prevent annoying shortages. As someone who regularly slings 20-40 lbs over my shoulder to save extra grocery trips, this was the most annoying bit of the weight-lifting restriction after my lap appy, especially if you don't have a spare pair of hands around to grab groceries for you.

Seconding the Miralax - I only needed opioids for 3 days or so, but everyone is different, and you don't want to be messing with that.
posted by vetala at 5:50 PM on October 10, 2012

You'll probably need some saran wrap to cover your incision sites the first time you shower, otherwise I think you have a pretty solid list (plus the recommendations for stool softener, plenty of entertainment, and a pillow to hug when you laugh/cough/get-up).

I had a lap appy a few months ago, and it was super, super easy. I was tired and achy, but was driving for food within a day of being discharged from the hospital, started running a week-and-a-half after, and ran a half marathon 3 weeks after... of course your mileage may vary, but it's pretty amazing how quickly you heal when your biggest incision is only 10mm long.

One thing to consider, you won't be lifting anything even slightly heavy for some time post-surgery (> 25 lbs), I had my keyboard leaning up against a wall instead of on it's stand, which pretty much meant I was playing piano until I had someone that could move it for me...

Good luck!
posted by cosmonaught at 5:54 PM on October 10, 2012

This is kind of for once you're out and about but still unable to lift heavy things and reach up high. If you ask at the customer service desk of the grocery store, they will send someone around the store with you to help you do your shopping, and they will be really nice and helpful and stay with you until they have loaded it all into your car. You still have to figure out how to get it into the house when you get home (friendly neighbor, perhaps?), but I didn't actually know the grocery store would do that for me until I absolutely needed it.
posted by twiggy32 at 5:55 PM on October 10, 2012

I required a number of pillows on the bed to a)prop me up to various heights to read/watch things b)put over belly button when I wanted to cough or move

I found that using a pillow pressed against my belly helped when preparing to sit/stand up (my belly hurt the most, the other incisions weren't bad at all.)

I was lucky to be able to stay with my mum and get some TLC from her but I still found Day 3 was the worst for me. I started to get a bit emotional thinking I would feel like that forever but by Day 4 I was ready to go home! I tell you this just so you know there may be a day in there where the best thing to do is just let yourself cry or call someone and chat about the miserableness of it all.

All the best for your surgery.
posted by latch24 at 6:01 PM on October 10, 2012

I had my gall bladder out laproscopically, and honestly, I remember that it was ouchy ouchy ouchy for a couple of days but I didn't make any special preparations and didn't need anything particularly out of the ordinary. Make sure you have a box of band-aids, I guess.
posted by drlith at 6:30 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

drlith and I had the same experience. I will add that I came within hours of taking miralax, but thankfully things returned to normal. Um.

Also, the not lifting stuff was a huge pain in the behind for me, as everything I enjoy doing involves lifting heavy stuff. Definitely get things moved around now.

Worst thing for me was I felt old for a couple of days afterwards, like really fragile. I wasn't, but I sure looked and felt like it.
posted by maxwelton at 6:35 PM on October 10, 2012

Make sure you have lots of easy TV (I watched Castle while recovering from my laparoscopic gallbladder removal). In lieu of someone to help you get up, use a pillow to hug to your abdomen. Toilet paper and that sort of stuff in easy access. Something to track your meds on (I was only on pain meds, but it really helped to write each dose down so I knew when I could take my next one, it's very very easy to lose track). Phone numbers. Phone nearby just in case and names/numbers of friends who can come help in the unlikely even you will need them. Drink lots of water. Puddings and Jell-O and crackers and something like Ensure in case you don't feel like eating for a bit (I wasn't nauseated, but I wasn't hungry either, and I always had a few crackers before my pain meds). Have sweatpants and loose underwear available. You won't be allowed to shower for a couple of days, and I might ask someone to come over for when you can shower, just in case (that first shower will feel AMAZING). Make yourself get up and walk around at least for a few minutes every hour or two.

Be prepared to sleep a LOT, do not even try to argue with your body about this. I have had insomnia all my life and often can't sleep in a dark quiet room in my own bed, but after my surgery I could sleep sitting up on my couch in the middle of the day with the TV blaring and people having a conversation two feet from me. Your body will need to heal (even comparatively minor surgery is still surgery), and it will tell you in no uncertain terms when it needs to power down for a while. I had several naps a day for about a week, and still slept well at night. I could not sleep lying down for the first couple of nights (mainly because of a painful suture, so you may not have that problem), so a recliner or piles of pillows on the couch were really helpful for me. I had glue over my (absorbable) sutures, so no bandaids needed.

One thing I will tell you that you didn't ask for was this advice that I got from a surgical nurse: stop eating early the day before (not just however many hours they tell you) - the less your system has to process, the better. I didn't eat after lunch the day before, and I didn't drink anything after about 6 PM the night before. Do not be afraid to tell them you are worried about nausea or pain! Be a good advocate for yourself. Good luck!
posted by biscotti at 7:04 PM on October 10, 2012

Whatever you do don't push yourself in recovery. I overdid it and wound up passing out in the bathroom a couple of days out from my gallbladder surgery.

Maybe the first day or so have a friend over to keep you company and pamper you?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:06 PM on October 10, 2012

I had a complete hysterectomy and oophorectomy this summer through five small incisions. What can't robots do now?

I think a lot of what you'll need depends a lot on the nature of your surgery. For a couple of weeks, there was no way I was wearing anything with any kind of a waistband at all, so I lived in maxi dresses, granny panties, and "leisure bras." During that time, an abdominal binder helped me greatly. I had a ton of stitches and such inside that didn't show on the outside, so I was absolutely prohibited from bending, lifting, etc. for quite some time. The binder helped with pain and also to keep me mindful.

I didn't feel the need for any kind of a toilet seat raiser-upper, but I do have a bidet attachment that made things much nicer. I am VERY THANKFUL that I got a shower seat and that I have a handheld shower head. The seat was about $25 on Amazon. I also did pick up a shower brush for my back and toes.

For when you're in the hospital (if you'll be staying over at all), a fanny pack that you can attach to your bed rails is super handy. The tables on wheels get moved all over the place, including out of your reach. You can stash things like lip balm and hand lotion in there, since hospitals can be dry. Don't forget your cell phone and your charger. Along the lines of lotions and balms, consider bringing eye drops, too. I woke from anesthesia with itchy itchy itchy eyes, and it was a long time before anyone could help me with that.

I enjoyed having a bed tray that I could put my laptop on, eat on, read on, etc.

I had a grabber stick that I still use to reach things in high cabinets.

Having a stool softener on hand certainly cannot hurt. Also, plan some easy-on-the-tummy, quick-to-grab food items you'll want for your first week, along with a variety of different beverages. You might find that your appetite is eh, and you might thus appreciate variety in your liquid flavors.

Finally, even if you're preregistered, show up at the hospital with your currents meds, your previous surgeries, and all your doctor info already written out on index cards or something. You won't have to search your memory while you're anxious, and it helps your nurses get things done more easily.

Good luck!
posted by houseofdanie at 7:12 PM on October 10, 2012

I had my gallbladder out just over two weeks ago. I suggest: Bendy straw for the first day or two - just lifting my head in bed hurt my abs/incisions! While you're moving heavy things now, also just think about high and low things. The refrigerator gave me a lot of trouble - why is everything at the bottom! Why are all the pans in the bottom cabinet! Why are the drinking glasses so high! etc. Maybe even fill up the dish drainer with some favorites.

I was really glad for the constipation for the first couple of days, because yeah, the bending and leaning forward and stretching and reaching, not so much. owie yow.

My appetite was off for a full week, but especially the first couple of days. Yogurt and yogurt drinks, applesauce, fruit, smaller things so you don't have to despair over the thought of making a whole sandwich.

Since I was sleeping flat on my back for two or three days (at least) before I dared lie on my side (and I still haven't made it to the other side), and because I slept like 12-14 hours the first couple of days, my heels felt sore from the weight of the blankets pressing them into the mattress. Maybe a pillow under your feet. Don't be afraid to move your bedside table/clocks/things to where you can reach them without sitting up, even if it's just for a couple of days.

Best wishes!!
posted by Occula at 7:15 PM on October 10, 2012

I had an ovarian cyst removed in a laparoscopy 2 weeks ago (and I have the now-itchy scab on my belly button incision to prove it). On preview, Occula is my laparoscopy twin!

My partner was very helpful, but your list looks good to me. Don't underestimate how much your body will want to sleep, especially with pain killers in the mix. You might want to set an alarm to remind you about medications, or a book to note down when you take them. My brain was very foggy and forgetful.

I was surprised how much pain killers did not even TOUCH the shoulder pain from the gas (after surgery when I still had the IV in, my skin was numb from the drugs but my shoulder just killed!). Rubbing it helped, and it disappeared on day 4. I didn't think to try heat on it.

I was (am) very bruised around my belly button, and I felt old just as maxwelton mentions. It took a few nights before I could stand to sleep on my side again. My appetite was quite low for a few days as well.

I think the only other thing in supplies that I would recommend is cream for your incisions like polysporin or something, for once the bandages come off. The belly button incision is a bit tricky if, like me, you have a pretty deep belly button. Cream + q-tips will keep it from getting infected or itchy as it heals.

And if you are a woman and have this around the house anyway, you want a nightgown, not pants. Even loose pants were not comfortable at first, half due to incisions and bruising and half due to more bloating/swelling than you might expect.

Good luck!
posted by heatherann at 7:20 PM on October 10, 2012

A pillow to clutch to brace yourself on the ride home from the hospital.


If not a toilet seat raiser, make sure theres something to brace yourself on in sitting and getting up.

All five seasons of doc Martin.
posted by slateyness at 7:32 PM on October 10, 2012

I had my gallbladder out a couple years back laproscopically.

In addition to some of the stuff you had. I was grateful for:

A robe, because that meant I didn't have to stretch to put on a shirt for a couple days.

Various flavored fizzy drinks like 7UP/Sprite, both to help with the nausea and they were relatively mild coming back up (the Vicodin made me throw up so bad I stopped after a day because that hurt more than the surgery).

If you can beforehand, clear yourself a circuit from the bed and through the house because if they puff you up with the gas, they'll want you up and walking around to help burp out the gas.

Do you know if they're gluing you up or using stitches? I got the glue so I didn't have to clean or sanitize much of anything.

I bought a bunch of protein/meal replacement shakes because that way I didn't have to prepare or chew anything but still got nutrition (and see above about the painkillers making me throw up).

Honestly, I spent the first couple days waking up to take painkillers, walking around to shake off the gas, peeing, and going back to sleep.

Make yourself a secondary nest on the couch or the floor or wherever you think you'll recreate. There's no shame in sleeping in front of the TV when you're recovering.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:03 PM on October 10, 2012

I have not had a laparoscopy but had major abdominal surgery to remove an 8-pound baby from my abdomen. Twice. :)

I was able to take care of all toilet and showering needs without help by about 48 hours after the surgery. (Stepping over a tub lip into the shower on day 5.) The grab bars at the hospital were helpful for getting up and down (I just grabbed my sink at home).

Definitely get the anti-gas stuff. Ask at the hospital if they don't automatically give it to you. Also ask if you ought to take a stool softener for a week or so. I mean, neither will kill you, it just isn't real comfortable. Walking frequently made a big, big difference in my comfort level with #2. It moves the gas along much, much faster.

"If the incision(s) are near the place where you wear the waist of your pants, you will also want a stack of 4x5 gauze bandages to fold over the waistband to prevent any sticking to the dressings on the incision(s)."

Or, as the maternity nurses at the hospital will tell you, menstrual pads. Old timey, non-maxi ones that are all thick and soft. Perfect, inexpensive pre-packaged abdominal bandages to prevent sticking, bleeding, and waistband chafing! Plus they have a sticky strip on the back to stick them to your pants or underwear or even your muumuu! Nurses know things, man.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:31 PM on October 10, 2012

Mine was back surgery, not abdominal, will throw a couple suggestions out anyway. You might want some sort of ice pack, along with the heating pack. Either small cubes, or frozen peas or corn - something that won't be too uncomfortablely lumpy. Can help with incision pain, helps to get the swelling down, worth trying for the shoulder pain.

This may be overkill, but the last two times I've been on post-surgery type meds, I've ended up being allergic, breaking out in hives and all. (Vicodin after the back surgery, an antibiotic after an infected cat bite.) Now I keep Benadryl around if I'm being treated with anything new. No fun to be hurting from surgery, not allowed to drive yet, and itching like crazy. Won't be an issue for you if you've already taken whatever pain meds they'll give you for during recovery.

Agree with the suggestions of stool softeners, various pillows, and light-but-not-hilarious entertainments. After my surgery, I was surprised at how fuzzy-headed I felt for the first few days, couldn't concentrate to read or follow plots well.

Best of luck to you!
posted by dorey_oh at 9:28 PM on October 10, 2012

Sounds like Occula had a similar experience to me when my gallbladder was removed laparoscopically this past spring. Move everything to where you don't have to bend, and I would put snacks and drinks on the bedside (or couchside) table before you get surgery. I basically had everything I needed a foot away for three or four days and the bathroom was as far as I could go.

The bendy straw was key for me, and I lived on apple or grape juice and Saltine crackers. Water was fine but since I was eating so little I really appreciated the juice, and it made the bitter Vicodin go down better. That's about all I was up for for a few days, some crackers and medicine and sleep. I didn't really need much to entertain me, but I did enjoy finally reading Harry Potter books, highly recommended

I don't think anyone really could have prepared for how hard it was to get in and out of bed. YMMV, of course, but if my ladyfriend hadn't been able to help me out of bed for a few days I would have needed something to assist, so for that reason, I recommend getting a cane or something (sorry, I'm not sure what exactly) to help brace yourself and make sure you can go slowly while getting up. I don't know why it was so hard for me, but getting up was the worst. (Luckily, I had zero shoulder or gas pains!) The raised toilet seat sounds like a great idea. And definitely take a pillow to the hospital to brace against, you'll want to have it for the car ride home!

Good luck! I made it sound awful but honestly it was fairly smooth sailing; I was lucky to have my girlfriend to help take care of me but it's doable alone. (Also, after a few days I recovered pretty quickly and had no problems with heavy lifting like others describe. It must really vary for everyone!)
posted by thesocietyfor at 9:29 PM on October 10, 2012

* someone to help around the house
* someone to go on walks with you

The number one complaint about my (laproscopic) stomach surgery was the discomfort from the CO2 gas they use to get wiggle room for the instruments. It takes a few days for that to settle, and getting up and walking around made *all* the difference in the world.

Also, I found that tylenol was *way* more effective than morphine for that discomfort. Go figure.
posted by colin_l at 10:13 PM on October 10, 2012

My experience, which you may have read some of before, and this will probably re-iterate points above, but for what it's worth -

- I was told years ago that it's a good idea to have some type of music on headphones during the operation. Both of my surgeons/teams were ok with this. The reason as it was explained to me was that although you're essentially out, your brain isn't fully off, and absorbs the background sounds. This apparently gave my friend recurring nightmares for some time.

- The shoulder pain was explained to me before I was wheeled in on the gurney, but I wasn't expecting the sheer amount of pain. Coming out of the drugs and being disoriented - then BAM, felt like someone had beaten me with baseball bats on my shoulders. This went away for me in a few hours.

- I was proscribed stool softeners by my doctors, the Vicodan or whatever they give you is a darn good constipator, although being on fairly high amounts of pain killers cut my appetite immensely. Due to the nature of my could-be-better diet, I'm ok going without food for long periods of time, but most people aren't

- Most of the pain I felt was getting into or out of bed. By day 2, maybe 3 at the latest I was sitting upright playing video games out of boredom. Most of my pain centered around carrying my book bag to school, although getting out of my tiny coupe was somewhat painful. Laughing hurt. General malaise from being slowed and in some pain pretty much all day.

I too was lucky to have just 4 small incisions, as opposed to waking up with half my torso torn open. Only real scary part after the operation was several days later when checking out my incision and seeing a really small plastic thread-type object sticking out about 1-2mm. I called the advice nurse line and they freaked out for about 10 minutes until it was determined this was part of the internal stitching thart was somehow sticking out. Went away on it's own in a few weeks.

Things can go wrong, but it's not all that common, and most likely you'll be at 80% after 2-3 days, and the last 20% coming over the course of a few weeks.

Now that I think about it, you may want to see if there's anyone who you could ask to check in on you a few times during the first 2 days or so after the procedure. Even if it's just a neighbor, the mailman, whomever you can get to agree to stop by, just in case you are having a really hard time, or the medication after surgery doesn't agree with you.
posted by efalk at 10:50 PM on October 10, 2012

I didn't have a lot of problems after my gall bladderectomy. One thing I'd be careful about is, especially in the waking up period, trying too hard to urinate. I've had issues after surgery, including actually popping some stitches. Just let it go naturally, if you can bear it.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:46 AM on October 11, 2012

Man, I had major abdominal surgery (one ovary removed) and didn't have anywhere near as many of the resources you're looking at. Then again, the very first week I was discharged, my then-new boyfriend insisted I come live with him for that initial week so he could play nursemaid; and, I was only 26 and thus much more likely to bounce back. But some specific thoughts --

The water, jello, soup, frozen food, bad sitcoms, etc. are things that just seem like a good idea if you're in dicey health anyway; these also sound like things you'd want around if you had the flu or a cold or something, so general "comfort food/items" things sound good.

I don't recall any shoulder pain or throat irritation; not sure whether that was faulty memory, or if it just didn't happen, or if it was quickly dispatched by my boyfriend. The only discomfort I remember was all in the abdomen at the inciscion site; maybe a slight cramp in my back becuase I was walking around a little hunched over from the incision. I remember being more frustrated that I couldn't lie on my stomach to read because that hurt the incision site, so there went one of my favorite reading positions. (Also - never mind how I know this, but having an orgasm only a couple days after abdominal surgery? Not pleasant.)

I don't recall having need of a butt-wiping stick, or even a shower chair. The plastic grabber-thing, though, is a good idea, because bending and lifting is going to be out for you for a while.

Oh, speaking of bending -- make sure you have shoes that you do not have to tie. Because for a good week or two, you will not be able to bend over to tie your shoes from a seated position. This was the thing that really stuck out for me -- the sheer weirdness of having the impulse of will to want to bend down and tie my shoes, but my body simply wouldn't do it. It wasn't painful, it just wasn't happening. It went away after a week, once the muscles and nerves started to re-knit, but it was way freaky.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on October 11, 2012

A fishing/photography vest will come in handy.
posted by jgirl at 7:53 AM on October 11, 2012

For the first couple of days I stayed in bed as much as possible. On my bedside table, I set myself up with a bowl of washed grapes (my mouth would get very dry), a bottle of water, and some crackers (I was nauseous after the surgery) so I could take my meds with at least a couple of bites of food. I also set my alarm to wake me up and take my meds on time -- you do not want to wait until you feel actual pain before taking the next dose, or the medication won't work as well. I only got up to use the bathroom, which was shockingly difficult and painful (the walking, not the actual toilet time). So just be ready for that. I went very slowly and put a hand on the wall to feel steadier. And as everyone else said, it feels so much better to hug a pillow to your stomach. I don't think I wore anything with a waistband for a while -- get one of those long flannel nighties.
posted by chowflap at 8:00 AM on October 11, 2012

My husband had his gallbladder removed via laparoscopic surgery a year ago. His advice is to stay ahead of the pain with painkillers--take them on schedule, whether you're hurting yet or not. He also agrees with the stool softener recommendations. Otherwise, we really had no particular equipment, though I did do a lot of fetching and carrying the first few days; if you're alone, a nice bedside stash of sundries would be nice.
posted by epj at 9:44 AM on October 11, 2012

I had my hysterectomy via laproscopic surgery and Husbunny was out of town dealing with a death in the family.

For sure a laxative.
Lots of yummy liquids, I like grape juice.
Mac and cheese (Stouffers, specifically)
Cans of chicken soup
Ice cream
A rotisserie chicken, or nice baked chicken that I can easily nibble on.
Fruit, all chopped up and ready to munch
Coca Cola

I didn't find it very painful at all, except for the gas.

I was alone for a week directly after surgery. People were very concerned for me, but I would have rather been left alone (which, get real, not going to happen.)

I had to answer the door for deliverys of sympathy plants and flowers, flowers for me, and a delivery of food from Legal Seafood (Nini I love you but WHAT were you thinking?) The other thing was the phone. Put it in the bed with you if you can.

Don't be afraid to tell callers, "I appreciate your checking up on me, but I'm fine. I'm kind of tired, can I let you go?"

Also, don't be afraid to ask people, "I'm dying for a McDonalds Hamburger and a chocolate milkshake. Can you be a lamb and bring it to me, then leave?"

A bottle of water at your bedside, and your anti-inflammatory of choice.

I found that I felt a LOT better with Iburprophen than I did with the Vicodin. YMMV.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:24 AM on October 11, 2012

I had my gallbladder removed laproscopically with some complications. The hardest thing for me was getting up out of bed the first week post-surgery. I ended up tying a rope to the radiator in my bedroom and using it to pull myself up.
posted by Majorita at 10:01 AM on October 13, 2012

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