Preparing For Surgery

Tubes

Food Planning

  • Buy a blender
    • This is a non negotiable because you will NEED liquid meals.
    • If you can afford a Vitamix it would be ideal.
  • Plan ahead by trying different liquid and puree meals. This way you will know what flavors you like
    • I could only tolerate banana baby food the first week because of the texture and flavor
  • Before surgery stock up on premade baby foods, protein drinks, soups, etc.
  • Make juices, soups, purees ahead of time and freeze them so you have some meals planned and ready before surgery
  • Find recipes, speak withy our doctor, or a nutritionist to determine how you can get enough calories while on a liquid diet.
  • I am starting a puree & liquid diet blog very soon that can give you some ideas for meals!

How to get the food in your mouth

  • I recommend purchasing three large syringes (100 mL) prior to surgery
    • One for food, one for drink, and one as a back up
    • The hospital will likely provide 10 mL syringes (which are very small considering a cup is 240 mL)
      • Start with the small syringes until you are ready to take in more liquid.
  • You can find soft tubing for the syringes that you can put along your cheek or between teeth to help get the liquid into your mouth.
  • After the first two weeks I switched to a baby bottle with the tip of the nipple cut off.
    • The syringes get hard to push over time and become more of a hassle as you being to take in more liquids.
    • The nipple of the baby bottle is much easier on your sensitive teeth than the hard syringe tip.
    • Faster delivery of the food and less messy
      • My syringe got stuck, I pressed to unstick it and shot pureed carrots all over my Aunt’s 10-foot celling. Baby bottles from then on.

Medicine

  • Make sure your pharmacist gives you everything in liquid ( some medicines they cannot, but be sure to ask if they can & explain the situation)
  • For liquid medicines get them flavored at the pharmacy
    • This is offered for a small fee at most pharmacies
  • For the medicines not available in liquid:
    • Purchase a pill crusher before surgery
    • Have a strong flavored liquid to mix it with to mask the flavor

Clothes

  • You want large neck shirts so you do not have to pull anything tight over your head.
    • V necks, button down, zip up hoodie
  • Slip on shoes or slippers for while in the hospital and at home
    • You will not want to bend over to tie shoes
    • You will be unsteady on your feet so shoes will help when walking
  • Loose fitting PJ bottoms or sweat pants
    • My stomach graft was very sore so keep your clothing options comfortable and loose
  • You will drool and stain these clothes so do not wear anything you care about

Mouth care

  • Schedule a dental cleaning for a week or two before your surgery.
    • That way you can go into your surgery and days of not brushing after surgery, with a clean and healthy mouth.
  • Before surgery purchase some baby tooth brushes
    • They have a small head and soft bristles that make brushing much easier
  • My mouth was horribly dry:
    • Chapstick
    • Biotene mouthwash is for dry mouth (helped so much!)
    • Humidifier
      • Check with your surgeon to make sure they are okay with these items

Ice

  • The hospital will provide a jaw ice pack that wraps around your head. This pack is made of paper and plastic and was scratchy on my neck.
  • I recommend a cloth ice jaw pack
  • Bring some washcloths to put under your chin to stop the ice pack from resting on your throat.
  • Ice really helped with my comfort so I highly recommend icing often

Entertainment

  • Often patients eyes are sensitive to light for the first few weeks which makes TV watching, smartphone screen, and reading very difficult
  • Download podcasts, audio books, or TV series you can listen to before surgery
  • Having something to occupy your mind is critical.

Comfort

  • I purchased a cheap twin-size comforter, which turned out to be great because it was thick, soft, and warm… plus it added some cheery color. (Much better than hospital blankets)
    • Do not take a comforter you care about because it will likely get stained with bloody drool or liquids you’re trying to syringe into your mouth.
  • If you have a favorite pillow you want to take to the hospital I recommend putting it in a very bright/standout pillowcase so it does not get mixed up with the hospital linens.
  • You probably wont be able to wash your hair for a while so take a great shower the night before your surgery and really pamper yourself… get all that seemingly easy personal hygiene stuff out of the way because it will be a while until that all seems easy again.
  • Stores sell No Rinse Shampoo Caps that come in individual bags. You microwave the bag for a few moments and then place it on your head and rub and it washes your hair pretty well. This might be something worth purchasing for that first week (You probably wont feel good enough to care about your hair, but if you think you will they seem like a good compromise). Most hospitals have them as well so you could always ask.

Protect your mental health

This is major life changing surgery and it is absolutely normal to be scared.

  • Try to get in the mindset that your surgery date isn’t the date of a big scary surgery, but it’s the first day that you start healing. No matter how hard some days are after surgery, they are days spent getting better rather than your ICR getting worse.

Best of luck! I know this whole process can be as emotionally & mentally draining as it is physically and it is okay to ask for help:

Nervous about surgery? Check out the support groups under resources