Thursday, October 11, 2012

hospital survival kit for lung cancer surgery

Surviving lung cancer, for me, began with surviving three nights on a hospital cardiac unit ‘recovering’ from lung cancer surgery in March 2012 at PinnacleHealth Hospital.

When an EBUS outpatient procedure went wrong a week earlier I unexpectedly ended up overnight on this cardiac unit and got a sleepless preview of the 24/7 chaos. Soooo I prepared my own survival kit …

First I bought a pair of Koss headphones at Walmart for around $30. Normally I use ear buds but I learned from my preview stay that you NEED the ol’ school kind of headphones that completely cover your ear, cancelling outside noise. Make sure the padding is nicely cushioned as you will be wearing all the time especially for sleep, even if you have nothing playing through them.

I shut out the hospital around me disappearing into days of audio books on CD I stocked up on at my local public library plus a couple music CDs guaranteed to induce sleep.

I brought name tags and a magic marker to label myself or better yet my hospital gown as to how I preferred to be called, “Hello my name is Patrick” … For whatever reason 61 years ago my parents chose to call me by my middle name since birth and that is how I have been known my whole life. Medical professionals are anal retentive about first names; however I do not answer to my first name.

Stylin’ is important to recovery, well at least to me. I knew from reading my brochures that walking the halls was going to be part of recovery from lung cancer surgery, 4X a day or more. When physical therapist told me how often and how far I walked might get me discharged sooner, believe me I was motivated!

Hospital gowns are designed for access to patients laying in bed however they are not the most functional strolling attire. Now I have been told I have a fine ass but hanging it out of a hospital gown is  such a lunatic asylum fashion statement. So I made sure to bring my leisure pants, Captain America and Mario Brothers. … While others shuffled along with one hand behind their back trying to hold their gowns together or required an aide to hold their gown … I strolled the halls like fashion week!

Bring a hat. Sink sponge baths and rinse-less shampoos may be sanitary but it’s not a real shampoo. Ball cap style works best for napping in with no back or side brim.

What all the medical professionals fail to realize is that … if you think you 'look good' - then you think you 'feel good'.

P.S. I was also 'off the grid' since I do not own a smart phone and only my daughter even knew I was in for surgery much less had been diagnosed with lung cancer. 

Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. This is great! I need to link from my blog to you as you have such great advice for folks...including those who are caring for someone in a hospital.

    1. Thank you! Also if visiting someone bring cookies :) It's not likely lung cancer surgery will have dietary restrictions but if stuck on a cardiac unit for a couple days of recovery just try to get an unhealthy snack.

  2. Just perfect!! Hospitals really don't try to make patients comfortable, do they?? BTW, so... what is your first name?
    Jackie aka Bama

    1. Hi Jackie! Well a lot of people with clipboards and/or computers on carts kept standing around my bed asking for someone named "James". I ignored them.:)

  3. Well I found my way here. I love it when pts come prepared. I also always bring my own styling PJ bottoms to the hospital. No bare butt for me.

    1. Hi Julie! Actually I was surprised how many of my fellow patients did not have survival kits. Obviously if an emergency admittance you wouldn't have one, or if just overnight but surprisingly few were prepared for the sleepless bedlam that is trying to recover in a hospital.