Stuff to have on hand (and sometimes why):
*** A recliner, preferably with a lever, rather than the kind that you have to push back, because, uh, you can't push back.
*** Firm throw pillow to place in the back of the recliner, in case you can lean or scoot all the way back. (I used it until the 6th day to prevent having to stretch unnecessarily)
*** A tote bag with stiff handles that don't flop over when you need to get your whatever. I used a very small, straw beach bag, because I could feel for the handles in the dark easily.
*** small make-up case to hold only meds that are taken throughout the day
*** medium sized case to hold drain maintenance supplies
*** hydrogen peroxide
*** small gauze pads
*** extra compression bra (The Nouvelle Inc. 7N style was the cheapest one I bought, but most supportive and comfortable.)
*** extra abdominal binder (I bought a 12" 1-piece wrap, but found it unable to offer the appropriate gradations of support as the one I got from fstubbs.com, model 2005, with 3 bands that could be adjusted individually. Dude. $25 bucks and worth $250. It's my best friend.)
*** soft, but close-fitting camisole, 2 or 3 (This is really simple but saved me from the nightmarish drain-pull over and over again. It works like this. Put on the camisole before any compression garments. I found the Spanx Assets lightweight, medium support top and it is great, considering it's really hot here. I also used one of the Spanx heavier duty compression tops that does not have a built-in bra, because I had one handy. That little bit of support is nice while your getting everything together. The real key is that when you take off all your binders and bras, there still needs to be something to hold the drain. Ah ha! The camisole. You can't forget in the middle of taking the binder off, that your drain is attached to it and almost fall to your knees in indescribable pain when the drain is pulled away from your body by whatever you forgot you had it pinned to. Make sure your panties are not over the drain tube. We'll get to that in a sec.
*** Antimicrobial/antibacterial soap, if you get to shower before drains are out (first aid section in the Target pharmacy area)
*** waterproof first aid tape
*** ID badge lanyard or some other secure, waterproof thing that you can hang around your neck and affix something to
*** remote control organizer of choice that can be reach sitting up or reclining
*** lip balm
*** hand lotion
More detailed issues:
*** Going to the bathroom - less horrifying than the drain, but occurs more often. Make sure you have a toilet that you can get up and down from, because it really bites otherwise. I don't have safety handles on the walls, so I chose to use the bathroom with the narrowest walls surrounding the toilet so I could ease myself up and down by bracing myself against the walls. Back to the darn drain. If you make sure that your panties are not over your drain tube, you can pull them up and down without serious pain and horror. Think about it. If your drain is stitched into your abdomen and the receptacle is pinned to your clothes, there's a really good chance that if you aren't paying attention that you just yanked the drain tube at your stomach when all you wanted to do was pee.
Don't start thinking about Colace after the surgery. Start taking it the day before surgery and every day until your abdomen doesn't hurt anymore. There's no point in suffering any bit more than necessary and you can't really complain about it in polite company. Constipation is no match for water and Colace. You'll definitely be better off.
Now, practical thoughts on the drain: The drain has caused me more pain since the 3rd day post-op than anything else. My charming thoughts on dressing and toileting cover most of it, but, wait, there's more. The first aid tape is great for anchoring the drain tube to that crease between your abdomen and thigh (whaddaya call that place?). It's just like building a little slack so that if the tube does get yanked, it doesn't get yanked very hard. Don't put tape or anything you have to pull on near your surgery sites, because that's not real bright to fool with $10,000 worth of stitches for no good reason.
Before I came up with my final drain management solution, I had a bit of a fashion faux-pas. I have yanked the drain tube so many times that I live in constant fear of doing it again (you can tell, right?). I had a pull-on, stretchy, cotton skirt that I put on, but didn't have any place to put the drain that was downhill of the drain site. Sooooo, I taped it to my leg. My fiance' felt that the silhouette looked a bit like I had a different type of surgery and that men might find it intimidating for me to have this rather firm "thing" hanging down my leg (think donkey here).
That made me really mad, because I'm stuck with the stupid drain and I want to go places, but I want the drain to work very efficiently by being lower than the drain site on my stomach. Don't be frightened here, but my search led me first to thigh holsters for automatic weapons. (Not too hormoney.) Then I started thinking about the neighbors and the school bus driver and how they would react if I started walking around with some commando gun-rig attached to my leg. I thought it might get complicated before I ever got to explain what was really inside.
Oh well, this is getting way too long (has been for a while) so let's cut to the chase. After looking at all of these really good looking guys with their sturdy, thigh holsters, I noticed one of several things they had in common, but only one that is pertinent here. Cargo pants. They all had cargo pants. So what if I anchor the drain a few inches below the site for a little piece of mind and then cut a slit inside the leg pocket of some cargo shorts? Yes, I'd have to be wary of the dreaded drain-yank when going to the bathroom or attempting to moon passersby (not), but I could go out without looking like I'm packing a shotgun or a salami.
I find both of those options preferable to have a bag bloody fluid poking out of my pocket, but to each her own. I shall update on the cargo idea as soon as UPS arrives.
Okay. I'm good. Hope you are, too.