Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

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Gaelen
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Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby Gaelen » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:59 am

I've had three surgeries, all in NYC which is a couple hundred miles from home. It means choosing what to pack carefully, especially because I know that after surgery, I will be restricted from lifting more than 10 lbs and will somehow have to haul it all home. But there are some things that I have found helpful in the hospital...my cell phone, my PDA, the chargers for them, a small extension cord in case the outlets in the room aren't close enough to the bed, etc.

I've also found a couple other things that really helped out:
-- a packable waterproof windbreaker with a hood, the kind that folds up into its own pocket. These things weigh next to nothing, are pretty warm when layered over a sweater, and more than enough weather protection even if its not cold. Even on hot summer days, it rains...and rainwear with a hood is a lot more multipurpose than an umbrella
-- an ipod or small MP3 player, rechargeable or with batteries, and a good set of headphon or earbuds. Daytime TV in the hospital is okay, sometimes, but sometimes it is nice to have your own music and a way to tune out the hospital noise.
-- a packable, very lightweight backpack. Mine, like the windbreaker, folds up into its front pocket so it takes up no space in my luggage, and it's from Eastern Mountain Sports. It's called the 'Tortoise,' and there's a small duffle version, too. You can find it at http://www.ems.com and I've seen other versions of this kind of pack/luggage at places like Walmart, sporting goods stores, etc. It was a great 'hospital' bag while I left my main small wheeled tote at my brother's house.

I didn't really bring books to read, because I had audio books on the ipod along with music and I knew I could have my brother pick up magazines in the hospital. And I didn't waste packing space on personal clothes to wear in the hospital because I knew I'd have a lot of staples and stiches and a catheter or two to deal with--so I brought 2 sets of scrubs from work, in which I went home, and I mainly wore hospital gowns with my own light robe in the hospital.

One thing I brought, which I will no longer carry with me, is my laptop. I knew the hospital was wireless, and would have loved to be able to connect, but the connection was fruity in my room so the laptop was 4 lbs. of extra weight. What I will bring on any future trips, including hospital stays, is my new laptop (the old one had a power supply seizure about a month after I got home.) My new laptop weighs all of TWO POUNDS, including the power adapter. It's an Asus eeePC 900, and while I have a larger, heavier laptop for home use, this is the one that will come on the road with me. It has no internal CD/DVD, although you can hook in a USB drive if you want, and a small amount (20 GB) of internal storage. What it does have is built in wireless which is pretty sensitive, a built in webcam and speaker, fast boot up, and preinstalled web access (Firefox), email access, office productivity software installed (openOffice 2.0), some native games, and the ability to play music and movies that you can either download, stream or bring with you on USB pen drives or SD memory cards, all equally small. You can see one at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASUS_Eee_PC or at the ASUS website. No, I don't work for them...but I do love this thing. It fits in my purse, and it does everything I normally need to do when on the road (or in the hospital)--email, web cruising, entertainment, and work/office software in case I should feel like being productive. I'll never carry more than two pounds on the road again. ;)

What did you find helpful when you had to be in the hospital or treatment center, whether for a day or an extended period?
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment

Lou
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby Lou » Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:33 pm

We had a thread going similar back in Feb. I do remember it was quite helpful for me.
Here are a few things I could not do without in the hospital. I was there for 8 days.
Chap-stick
some kind of mints I could taste some of the i.v. meds in my mouth Yuck! I cannot remember what the meds were I just know it left the worst taste.
lotion nothing with a scent, the first days from surgery anything scented made me feel nauseous.
toothbrush, tooth paste
shampoo. a friend gave me some dry shampoo that was great since I could not shower for the first 4 or 5 days.
shower gel hospital the soap was awful, boy that first shower out of surgery was one of the best showers I have ever had. It hurt like hell but it felt wonderful at the same time.
boxer shorts or Pj shorts I did not care the first few days but after that I did.
fluffy socks
my own pillow
my own blanket
my sister in law spent the first 3 night she is a nurse and thank god for her!
I am sure there is more and it took a good sized suitcase but, these were things that I really needed. It was the roughest week.
diag: 2-2-08
LAR 2-25-08
w/ temporary ileostomy
Tumor found early because of family history w/polyps and luck (feel extremely blessed)
reversal (CANCELLED!!!)
Breast Cancer DX:6-20-08
Lumpectomy 6-25-08
chemo & radiation done 12-08
Ileo takedown 2-09

Lou
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby Lou » Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:36 pm

ear plugs I forgot earplugs, a good pair can go a long way in the hospital :!:
diag: 2-2-08
LAR 2-25-08
w/ temporary ileostomy
Tumor found early because of family history w/polyps and luck (feel extremely blessed)
reversal (CANCELLED!!!)
Breast Cancer DX:6-20-08
Lumpectomy 6-25-08
chemo & radiation done 12-08
Ileo takedown 2-09

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CRguy
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital

Postby CRguy » Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:50 pm

For those in the waiting queue..also check the thread from Feb '08......HERE : If you could take to the hospital what would it be?

I recall my most valuable assets were :

1. Sense of humour !
2. Indomitable spirit !
3. Ardent desire NOT to be a patient and get the hell out of there ASAP !!!!!
4. Lifesavers to take away the taste of hospital cream soups .... doesn't matter, cream of anything !

Your milaeage may vary.

Best wishes and Cheers,
CRguy
Caregiver x 3
Stage IV A rectal cancer/lung met
11 Year survivor
my life is an ongoing totally randomized UNcontrolled experiment with N=1 !
Review of my Journey so far

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pearlgirl
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby pearlgirl » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:11 pm

I have some caregiver/partner hospital items suggestions:

I took a spiral notebook and pen and recorded all the medications, vital signs, notes from discussions with doctors and specialists, etc. It came in very handy a number of times when I could refer back to what was said or exactly when a med was discontinued and for what reason, and so on. I also jotted down the names of those who made an extra effort to help B in his recovery. I will be sending them and/or their supervisors notes of thanks. Inside the cover, I taped every business card (ostomy nurses, hospital social worker, individual specialists...) we were given while we were in the hospital, so they didn't get lost and we could quickly find them when needed. I just used first aid tape from the hospital room. ;)

A warm, fuzzy pair of slipper socks for me helped me to get comfortable and feel a little more settled in during all the time I spent at the hospital.

a zip-front fleece jacket or sweatshirt - even though it is 80 degrees outside, certain areas of the hospital were cold and we were both glad to have cozy, easy on and off jackets handy

I set up a web page to update family and friends about B's progress. This eliminated constant phone calls, incoming and outgoing, and let people know when he wanted visitors and when he just wanted peace and quiet. Some hospitals have computers set up for public access, usually for limited time periods, and many offer free Wi-Fi access if you have your own computer. I used Caring Bridge, a non-profit organization which allows you to do this for free.

Your favorite tea or coffee. I realize now how often I prepare a cup of tea to de-stress. Vending areas often have microwave ovens you can use to heat water from the water fountains, if you don't want to buy bottled water. Several times, when a nurse asked if there was anything I needed, I requested hot water and they were happy to get it for me. Ahhhhh, tea!!!!

Nail clippers, toothbrush and paste, hair brush


a list of family's/friends' phone numbers - I made a wallet-sized card and had it laminated, and gave copies to both our sons as well

For those with minor children who are left at home - I also made a wallet-sized card with my son's insurance information, allergies, our (his parents') contact information and hospital preference on one side and a signed authorization for medical treatment form on the other. It basically said: I AUTHORIZE ANY FIRST AID, MEDICATION, TESTING, MEDICAL TREATMENT OR SURGERY DEEMED NECESSARY IN CASE OF ILLNESS OR EMERGENCY, followed by my handwritten signature and date. This was laminated too. I made sure he carried this at all times, in case of illness or accident.

I'm sure I'll remember other things and I'm certain many others on here will have their own suggestions.
Husband DX CC (T2N0M0) 9/06
LAR 9/06
Recurrence, now CRC 1/08
chemo/rad, 6 weeks, ended 5/2/08
2nd LAR/ temp ileo 6/19/08,
8/4/08> 6 months chemo
ileo reversal 4/09, in remission

gofisch
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby gofisch » Wed Jul 02, 2008 11:20 pm

I think I started a thread similar to this a few months ago. One answer which I thought was invaluable was to have a small bag for your "junk" that you can keep on the bed rail (I just hooked mine on). That way it's right next to you whatever you need.
Frances
47, Mom
Rectal tumor (stage III) 1/31/08
6 weeks radiation/5Fu
LAR w/ loop ileo May/08
Folfox 7/08-1/09
Done with chemo 1/2/09!!!
Reversal 10/8/09, ileus, blockage, resection, home after 30 days!
4 years NED!

; girl
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby ; girl » Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:46 am

I hope I never have to go there again, but if I do, now I know what to take. I went in to the E.R. and checked out 10 days later so I never did get to pack.

What I've learned on this board is the gum thing to get the old gut moving again, is a must have. Definitely a must have.
Stage 2b colon cancer
Surgery 3/26/08
Pronounced NED 11-28-08

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Gaelen
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby Gaelen » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:24 am

y'know, I remember that thread from Feb., 'cause I was lurking on the board then and getting ready for surgery in April and read it with interest. But I just went back through all of the threads with posts in Feb. '08, and couldn't find it. It also doesn't show up in either simple or advanced searches. If anyone else finds it, it might be cool to merge these two threads together, or at least put a link to the Feb. '08 thread in here.

One thing about the mints and gum--if you have some types of surgeries (colon resection, liver resection) you may be limited to sucking water off a sponge/straw for 3-6 days post surgery. Mints and gum were both off limits for me and have been for some period after surgery every time...so make sure to ask first. ;)

Listerine melt in your mouth breath strips, and spray Listerine, which were also both really light and easy to pack, weren't off limits, though.
And chapstick--oh, yeah. How could I have forgotten that one.

The other thing, if you like to read in bed, is one of those LED folding booklights. I found the hospital lighting way too bright most of the time.
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment

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CRguy
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby CRguy » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:46 pm

Gaelen wrote:y'know, I remember that thread from Feb., 'cause I was lurking on the board then and getting ready for surgery in April and read it with interest. But I just went back through all of the threads with posts in Feb. '08, and couldn't find it. It also doesn't show up in either simple or advanced searches. If anyone else finds it, it might be cool to merge these two threads together, or at least put a link to the Feb. '08 thread in here.



"If you could take to the hospital what would it be? " was the thread name I recall, and it came up in the advanced search, BUT I also recall we chewed over some similar discussions in another thread, due to "thread spread," which I cannot recall.

Cheers
CRguy
Caregiver x 3
Stage IV A rectal cancer/lung met
11 Year survivor
my life is an ongoing totally randomized UNcontrolled experiment with N=1 !
Review of my Journey so far

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Gaelen
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby Gaelen » Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:46 am

Lou 'bumped' the thread from February (thanks!)
Here's the link to it, and I linked this thread in that one.
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2782

One thing I noticed in that thread were lots of recommendations for things like boxers and t-shirts, to replace the hospital gowns. While I agree that a light robe is a good idea, because they will get you up and walking pretty fast and hospital gowns hide nothing, one big thing to consider if you're planning to wear your own clothes while in the hospital is, who's going to do your laundry? Think you won't need to change them every day, that a couple pairs of boxers and a couple tees will hold you? Think again!
-- you're going to have stitches and drains for most of your hospital stay. They are in inconvenient places that often don't lend themselves to wearing either tees or boxers. Stitches bleed and ooze; JP drains leak. That's one tee shirt and/or pair of boxers that will need to be laundered.
-- you're going to have a urinary catheter for at least part of your stay. It's inconvenient, it runs down your leg, and you often leak (and all that walking/movement can make it worse...Depends super-absorbency level worse.)
-- the last thing you'll likely want anywhere near stitches, drains or catheters is a waistband. Even pulling one on/off can be a PITA.

One day one of my two JP output drains just kept leaking/oozing all day. Hospital gowns (I used three that day) are free, and the people who clean them don't have to do that laundry at 10 pm after commuting home from their visit to the hospital. Your situation may be different, but whether you're at a home area hospital, or in a hospital out of town, your caregivers will be spending time at the hospital that already disrupts their normal schedules. They maybe don't need to be doing your laundry, too. If they're out of town, they may not be able to do your laundry--at least not easily. The alternative--packing enough boxers and tees to handle a couple of unexpected changes a day, for even a five or six day hospital jaunt, means you're not going to be travelling light. ;)

How many changes could you possibly need, you ask? I mean, I won't be there that long, will I?
Well--the first time, for tumor resection, ostomy and HAI pump placement, I was in the hospital for 10 days.
The second time, for liver resection, I was in and out in 6 days.
In April, the stay that provoked this post, I was in for 17 days, released for 5 days, and readmitted for another 10 day stay due to spiking fever from a massive UTI for a whopping record of 27 days in hospital. Even one change a day would have required 14 days worth of my own clothes, and assumed that my younger brother would have time to throw in a load of my laundry between working his regular job, spending time in the hospital with me, and meeting with doctors.

And remember, I was trying to pack light, because I know by now that post surgery, I'll be on weight lifting/carrying restrictions of 10 lbs or less.

This last stay, I had a urinary catheter the whole time, and was sent home with the catheter so that the uretral reconnection could heal. I had about 200 stitches and two JP drains, which were removed in the hospital--but the JP drains leaked a lot for the first 10 days. Best of all, after discharge I was only at Miracle House for about five days until I spiked a fever and was readmitted from MSKCC Urgent Care for another 10 days. That's a lotta boxers and tees. After the first discharge, my mother was staying with me at MH. She offered to do the laundry I'd accumulated, but couldn't figure out how to use their card operated laundry machines--and I was too weak to go downstairs with her that day (busy spiking that fever!) So I'm not kidding about the laundry--it really can get to be a problem, and when you're out of clothes, the last thing you want to be doing when you most want to try to feel better is doing sniff tests on your laundry to figure out if it can go one more day! ;)

OTOH, bring one robe, and use the hospital gowns, and you won't need extra laundry done. Maybe bring one or two tees to change into if you're not having any other issues...but as someone who didn't need any of the underwear I'Od packed for a potential month-long stay in NYC because I was in Depends from about three days post-op until long after I'd left NYC for home, I'd definitely skip the boxers. ;)

Mileage, of course, will vary.

Also, in the other thread someone mentioned bringing pain relievers and reusable hot/cold packs from home. Again--I can't think of a hospital that would let you take your own meds without making a production out of it--if you need pain meds, use what they give you and ask for something different if you need it. And I wouldn't pack my own hot/cold pack...it's a hospital. They have those things there, and how will you disinfect yours after it's been in a hospital?
Hospitals also have their own supplies of ostomy stuff, women's sanitary napkins, and some variety of Depends (although I did have my brother go buy me some Depends that fit me better.) I brought my own toothbrush, toothpaste and unscented deoderant, dental floss, a small magnifying mirror and tweezers, and Listerine mouthwash spray. I also brought a few OralB finger pads that are impregnated with toothpaste--supposed to be portable, water free toothbrushes, and handy to have at the bedside. And I brought a pair of crocs easy on sandals to walk with--because otherwise you're wearing into your bed the same hospital socks that you just used to walk around the public floors.

Also, I've always brought my cellphone/charger and used that instead of the room phone. Most hospitals are giving up that 'don't use your cell phone in hospital areas' nonsense. The only place a cell phone is going to interfere with the machinery is in a radiation or imaging lab--and your little bitty cell phone signal isn't going to disrupt the machines. The machines are going to kill your cell phone. ;) If you're hospitalized at MSKCC, the admissions people actually TELL you to bring your cell phone and not bother turning on the phone in the room. It's also a lot easier to keep your cell phone with you (those hospital gowns have pockets), but it's often a stretch to reach the hospital room phone--and the last thing you want to do with a full kick line of post-op stitches is stretch anywhere.
Last edited by Gaelen on Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment

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justsing
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby justsing » Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:18 am

I usually have a full entourage with me when I go to the hospital, and we live only 5 minutes away, so I don't have to worry about packing light! Most of the time someone from my "staff" brings everything over after I get out of ICU/Stepdown.

Electronics:
Cell phone
Laptop & DVD's - our hospital has free wifi, but if it didn't I would have brought a personal DVD player
Earphones and an earphone "splitter" so that you can watch a movie with another person
Ipod

Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Unscented deoderant
Tweezers
Chapstick - and also ask for chloraseptic spray right away in post-op for the NG tube irritation
Sanitary supplies - both surgeries resulted in my getting my period. I guess it's quite common, but nobody told me to expect it, so I was thrown by it the first time. The nurses will give you those stretchy "peri pants" and sanitary napkins, and they're not wild about you using tampons, but . . . Also ask them for a peri bottle so you can stay clean, and I brought my own box of unscented baby wipes which I found less irritating than the fresh packs they had at the hospital.

GUM!!!

Crocs
Shawl - my MIL and friends knitted me a few big loose-weave ones out of low-budget yarn. They were super light and great for tossing over my shoulders to walk the hallways, no need to worry about tubes and sleeves, etc. They are easy to wash, and I felt so STYLISH!

MISC:
I didn't bring much else in the way of clothes or linens from home because they just got trashed and I wanted no part of hospital germs coming home with me!

My kids have made a lot of hospital art for me. I bring it and tape it up on the walls all over the room. It really brightens the place up!

AND, last but not least, a bowl and a few bags of candy to feed the docs when they are on rounds. It's amazing how much longer they will stay in the room and answer questions when you ply them with chocolate!
justsing, 46
Stage IV
colon resection 12/07
Liver resection 04/08
Phase I vaccine trial
liver, lung LN mets
tried Oxi, Iri and Avastin
now trying new chemo combos then sir spheres
College prof in theatre & voice
2 girls 18 & 14, one son 10

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Gaelen
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby Gaelen » Fri Jul 04, 2008 12:15 pm

justsing wrote:AND, last but not least, a bowl and a few bags of candy to feed the docs when they are on rounds. It's amazing how much longer they will stay in the room and answer questions when you ply them with chocolate!


LOL...not to get too far off topic, but when I was readmitted, Sloan didn't have a bed on the CRC floor, so they admitted me to the pediatric ward. I was in peds for three days until a bed opened up on the grownsups ward.
My surgeon's two fellows did evening rounds on Friday night when I was still in peds, and came face to face with the 'candy cart,' a ginormous rolling cart loaded with candy, juices, baked goods, chips, popcorn--any kind of snack food you can think of. It's a tradition of that ward, on Friday--the kids get to choose anything they want from the 'candy cart,' and if it's not on their diets, their nurses will hold it for them until the docs say okay.
My docs each scored their favorite candy bars, and a juice box, and a cookie for later...and somehow, I think they find their way to the peds floor on Friday night every week now. ;)

A friend gave me a 12 pack of party straws--straws with little umbrellas, like a tropical drink. I used to put them in my water or juice--and it got a laugh out of everyone. Nothing at all wrong with packing a little laughter.
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment

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steiconi
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby steiconi » Sun Jul 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Having just gotten out of the hospital from my 6th (and final) stay in 2 years, each lasting 2 to 15 days, I've got my packing down to the bare minimum. The hospital is on another island, so I have to fly there, and don't want to check luggage, so can't bring a lot of liquids. That also means I'm usually alone, with nobody nearby to fetch things.

Cell phone
undies--your stomach will probably be swollen, so waistbands should be extra loose. And for women, I found that boy-short style undies are more comfortable with an ostomy.
cotton knit pajama pants to wear under your gown, also loose
lip balm
easy on and off shoes
earplugs--I like Leight Sleepers, they really work
hair conditioner
hand lotion
one or two paperback books
oversized zip-front sweatshirt to fit over your gown
hair brush

Instead of bringing a robe, ask for a second gown, and wear it open in front. The hospital has always provided toothbrush and paste, waiting in my room when I get there, so I don't bring them anymore. The staff really will provide pretty much anything else you need, and if you're nice to the nurses, they'll even find you stuff you just want! For instance, one asked around and found me nail polish remover.


And remember; the fastest way out of the hospital is to WALK!
I am not my disease.

; girl
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Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital...

Postby ; girl » Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:52 am

*smacks self on the head* I can't believe I didn't post this before and all the ladies will agree on this. FLOWERS ! Nice smelling flowers was a helpful thing to have in my room with me. Not necessarily a necessity but a must have if I ever go again, along with all the other good suggestions posted. My friend had an arrangement sent to me it was the most beautiful, aromatic boquet I've ever seen and smelled. It was filled with stock, my most favorite floral fragrance. All the Dr's and nurses commented on it too and it seemed to keep them in my room longer. Hey I was bored what can I say.
Stage 2b colon cancer
Surgery 3/26/08
Pronounced NED 11-28-08

JavelinGuy
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Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:42 pm

Re: Things that are helpful to have with you in the hospital

Postby JavelinGuy » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:29 pm

Haven't seen this BRILLUANT idea that I cannot take credit for . . . JG thought of it due to previous non-cancer surgeries.

a roll of SOFT toilet paper (our local hospital is noted for using sandpaper that only LOOKS deceivingly like toilet paper)
bathroom wet wipes
JG (and wife CC)
***********************
JG - age 61
diag CRC adenocarcinoma Aug 2012
5 wks Xeloda & radiation
T1N0M0 - Stage 1
Colon resection Dec 2012


PTL and waiting for follow-up appts to see what's next . . .


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