What to pack for day surgery

Going in to hospital for a day surgery appointment is a little daunting. Although the NHS has been doing day surgery for many years, it is still a new concept for many people and there really isn’t much advice out there.

You will get a letter with an appointment for day surgery, an appointment for a pre-operative assessment including:

  • Where to go and at what time
  • What time you are allowed to eat and drink until (Follow this perfectly as the time you get your anaethetic is affected by the time you last eat/ drink)
  • A note asking you to bring pjs or a nightgown

I will do another post about what to expect but in the meantime, you might be wondering what you should take, and as I have had quite a few day surgeries I thought I would share what I take along. This looks like a longish list, but it all fits in a small rucksack and these things will see you through your day surgery. They will also see you through your first 24 hours in hospital if you need to be admitted on to a ward. Please don’t worry about this, the idea is that you are prepared, but you are not expecting to be admitted.

Here is my list:

  1. You need a suitable bag I use a small rucksack / back pack similar to this one, you don’t need to go for bright pink, mine just happens to be pink!
  2. Your letterI usually forget this – the front pocket in the back pack is ideal for keeping the letter in and saves you having to empty your bag in reception!!
  3. Pair of pyjamas or nightgownyou will probably be in a fairly open mixed bay and so you will want to be modest so Ladies, go for this rather than this and gentlmen, please make sure that what you wear keeps you ‘doings’ safely tucked away in no danger of escape…
  4. Dressing gownagain, this is for modesty and an extra layer for warmth
  5. Comfortable clothes and shoes for your journey home – you will be a bit woozy, woobly and possibly in pain so go for soft clothes that are easy to put on: Tracksuit; Yoga pants and tank top with a hooded top; loose fitting jeans and a T-shirt; Jersey dress and leggings. Shoes wise, trainers, birkenstocks or ballet shoes (ladies) are all good options. You will be wobbly so don’t wear heels. There is no reason why you can’t turn up in the clothes you intend to go home in. If you anticipate that a part of your body will be particularly sore e.g. knee, shoulder etc then think about clothes that will be easy to get on with limited mobility in that area.
  6. Fresh underwear and socksfor afterwards
  7. Slippers I bought a pair of cheap cheap towelling slippers
    purely for my hospital bag
    , they are a bit like the ones you get in spas
  8. Any medication you are oneven if you don’t expect to need it, you never know how long you will be in the day surgery centre
  9. Mints or chewing gumyou will have been told not to eat or drink anything so gum is a great way to freshen your mouth, or you can have  mints after your procedure
  10. Soap bag with: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, moisturiser, facial moisturiser, facial cleanser, cotton wool balls, deodorant, toothbrush, tooth paste, mouth wash, hair brush, and hair band – I collect little sachets from hotels and save samples from magazines for this purpose. Again this is in case you stay a little longer than anticipated
  11. Lip balm or lip gloss (again small travel size or samples are perfect) I have ChapStick Lip Balm – Original Single
  12. Glasses case, or contact lens case with fluid – if you use either glasses or contact lenses
  13. A good book, a magazine, a notebook and pen / pencil – You could be waiting around for a while so something to read and something to write on will help keep you occupied. I have The Summer Book by Tove Jansson and Marie Claire magazine
  14. Charged mobile phone loaded with tunes if you can – will help you nap and enable you to have contact with people you need to. Take your charger too if your phone will be your main distraction
  15. Some cashI usually take about £5 plus enough money for a taxi there if required, you will need a responsible adult to bring you home for the return journey, so you may need taxi money for this too.
  16. A couple of snacks and a drink One of the members of staff on the ward will bring you a hot drink and biscuits, but because of cut backs and staffing, they might not be able to do more for you. If you have an afternoon appointment you will be hungry when you come round!

So there we have it! If you have found this page because you have your surgery soon, I wish you the best of luck and I would love to know whether this list has helped you.

For veterens of the DSU, what do you take along?


3 responses to “What to pack for day surgery

  1. last time i was in for ‘day surgery’ (colonoscopy) i ended up being in for 5 weeks. so for next time i’m prepared – an extra long iphone/ipod/ipad charging cable for reaching the bed from the wall sockets! prepared – that’s me! ;D

  2. and although it may already be in plentiful supply in the hospital ward, if your a clean freak like me – your own hand sanitizer.

    also earphones – to listen to some music, but mainly to block out the horrendous noise of crying babies!!

  3. Like Josh, I went in for a day procedure and came out weeks later, 2 in my case, so it is always good to assume things may not go as planned and at least have enough with you to keep you sane for a couple of days while family search round for your long-stay survival gear.

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