You shouldn’t need too much, but let me recommend a few things:
Think of what you might need should the worst thing happen
If you have a wound infection, you might need to pack your wound with gauze a couple of times a day. Having some handy is helpful. If you have staples, some find putting a bit of gauze over the wound keeps the staples from being caught in your clothes. Gauze, paper tape, and peroxide are all things for your wound. Peroxide, by the way, is a great thing to clean blood and other body fluids out of clothes.
Pepcid Complete, a cross between Pepcid® and Tums®, is a great product to have on hand. It gives relief from stomach acid right away and also provides some long-term relief.
A thermometer is a great thing to have. Digital is fine. If you feel as if you have a fever, it is good to know your temperature. Most weight loss surgery patients are what we bombproof two weeks after weight loss surgery. They are beyond worrying about leaks or an abscess, not that these things don’t happen, but they are so rare that after two weeks we usually breathe a small sigh of relief. Two weeks after her duodenal switch, Kathy called with a little bit of pain and a temperature of 103 degrees. She came back in the hospital, we drained her abscess and started her on some antibiotics. Knowing that her temperature was 103 and not 100.3 gave her a “Do not pass Go, Go to the Hospital” card. She did fine (well, she might have a different take on it) but having the thermometer gave her the information we need to determine that she needed to be in the hospital. So, get a thermometer and use it. If your temperature goes above 101.5, call your weight loss surgeon.
Some weight loss surgeons give you prescriptions before you are admitted to the hospital. This way you can have your medicine chest stocked. Once you arrive home, it is one less thing to worry about. Many weight loss surgeons feel this is tempting fate and had rather write the prescriptions out and discuss them with you when you are ready to leave the hospital.
A few other things to do before you leave for the hospital
- Update your will
- Get a living will
- Establish a power of attorney
- Pay your bills
- Stock your refrigerator
- Arrange for the care of dogs, cats, rats, fish, and maybe the kids
- Make peace with your family, if you can
Make peace with the family
—but remember Bert and Ernie
I don’t want to throw too much cold water on this experience, but before you undergo weight loss surgery there are three legal documents you should have updated.
- Your will, which states where anything you own will go
- A living will, which is your declaration of how you want to be treated should you need to be on life-sustaining equipment (please remember, there are many reasons to be on a respirator. For example, you will be on one during weight loss surgery, and if you develop pneumonia, you might need to be on one for a bit afterwards).
- A power of attorney, which designates a person to handle your affairs, takes care of bills, and authorizes medical treatment should you need it. This is a bit morbid, but it can save your family a lot of headache.
In every hospital there are stories of people being kept alive against the advice of every physicianbecause some relative wanted “everything possible done,” even though there were “significant others” who knew the person desired to die with dignity should that time come. Such issues are hard to discuss, but do discuss them with someone you trust. Should that time come, a person who is armed with the medical power of attorney, as well as a living will, can execute your final wishes.
If you have a prolonged hospitalization, someone with a power of attorney can be sure your bills can be paid. Many companies have a clause in their agreement that if you become disabled, the payments to the card, or mortgage, are taken care of, and the person with the power of attorney can notify them. Check those agreements out first.
I have a very soft spot in my heart for dogs
I cannot help it. I love my dogs, and so weight loss surgery patients with pets have my immediate ear. When someone tells me they want to go home from the hospital early because of their dog, it is impossible for me to keep them in the hospital. I am also fortunate to have a hospital where pets are allowed. There is never such a fine moment as seeing a dog and master reunited. So, make certain your pets are taken care of while you are away. It is also useful to check if your hospital will allow you to see your animal. However, I don’t think too many hospitals will allow you to snuggle with your pet diamondback rattler.