Packing for A Colorectal Surgery: What You Really Need


Going into my surgery I wanted to make sure that I had all my bases covered no matter what happened during my stay. I also had my surgery 2 hours away from my home town so my mom couldn’t just run home to grab something. I will say that I most definitely over packed for the hospital. But, there are a few items that I am really glad that I brought to my surgery.

Before going to get this surgery done I searched the internet far and wide to try to get some tips on what to pack for this kind of surgery. Unfortunately there were not a lot of resources out there, other than packing for a hospital stay to have a child. Therefore, I thought that it was worth sharing for anyone that is going into hospital soon to have any surgery, but especially a Bowel Resection Surgery.

Below I will go through a list of the absolute essentials, but I will also be including a printable with everything you should need.

Toiletry Essentials

  • Deodorant
  • Face wash
  • Face cream, Eye cream, Body cream 
  • Nasal spray + nasal gel 
    • If you are prone to dry nose/bloody noses, this is a must for the dry hospital air.
  • Tooth paste + floss
  • Tooth brush
  • Bar soap
  • Shampoo + conditioner
  • Cotton swabs
  • Medication 
    • Although the hospital provided me with my meds, I brought mine just in case.
  • Extra pills (Tylenol, Advil, gas-x, acid reflux) 
    • The hospital will provide you with these but I brought them for the journey home. 
  • Pads + tampons
    • Sometimes your period will be induced after open-surgery (it happened to me). The hospital usually only has very generic pads and tampons, so I was glad I brought some from home for comfort. 
  • Hot water bottle
    • Can be good to bring incase you get very bad bloating after surgery, I personally never used mine in hospital. 
  • Hair clip, Hair ties, Head band
  • Chapstick 
  • Ear plugs, Eye mask
    • Ear plugs and eye mask are absolutely CRITICAL to bring. Although I had coverage for a private room I was placed in a ward and thanks to these things I was able to sleep. Otherwise, I think it would have been too bright and noisy for me. 
  • Baby wipes
    • These are great to freshen your body up without having to shower in the days after surgery. 

Clothing Essentials

  • Underwear (pack a few more than the number of nights you’ll probably be staying)
  • Soft bras
    • I bought some elasticated soft bras from Giant Tiger for cheap before my surgery.  
  • Pj pants + shirts
    • If you are having colorectal surgery, I would skip bringing pants because I never wore them at all because I had a 4″ wound down the center of my abdomen. However, if you are having laparoscopic or other surgery it may be of use to you. 
  • Night gowns + robe
    • I would highly recommend buying a few inexpensive night gowns for the hospital that way you can wear something a little more comfortable than there open-back hospital gowns. I also brought a very light cotton robe with me which was nice. 
  • Dress (going home outfit)
    • For woman I recommend a lose dress for coming home from the hospital. For guys I would get some very baggy pants that have a very stretchy waste band. 
  • 1 Sweaters
  • Slip-on Shoes
  • Slippers (non-slip)
  • Socks 
    • They provide you with non-stick socks at the hospital, but these can get annoying so I would recommend bringing your own socks for when you are sitting or in bed. 
  • Flip flops (non-slip)
    • These are good if you have to shower, or for walking around the hospital. 

Electronic Essentials

  • Phone charger
  • Headphones 
  • Laptop/Tablet + Charger
    • This will help to keep you entertained, plus I was able to Skype a few people from home when I was in the hospital which was nice. 
  • Download shows ahead of time if you don’t know what the WiFi is like 
  • Extension cord 
    • This came in handy for me because I was trying to plug in my Tablet charger and phone charger, plus the plug was all the way behind my bed. I would highly recommend bringing a long extension cord.

Other Essentials 

  • Chewing gum 
    • This helps to relieve gas after surgery
  • Reusable water bottle
    • I hated the thought of using all that Styrofoam and straws, so I brought my own reusable water bottle. This was easier to drink out of for me and was better for the planet. 
  • Neck pillow
    • I never personally used my neck pillow, but it could come in handy for you depending.
  • Journal + Pen
    • To help journal your symptoms or jot things down from the doctor
  • Magazines/ Books
  • Necessary papers for surgery 
  • Antiseptic wipes
    • This is good to clean off any dirty surfaces (with the help of a friend)
  • Glasses (if applicable)
  • Minimal money + ID
    • I personally gave all my ID to my mom, which I would recommend if you can. But, if you will be mostly alone in hospital, bring only the essentials. 
When packing for my hospital stay I think the biggest mistake I made was over packing clothing. For the first 2 days I wore the hospital night gowns and so I really only wore one night gown and the dress I wore home. However, I would have rather been over prepared than under prepared. Overall, my toiletries and electronics all got used, but I was definitely over packed in the clothing department. My top things that I believe can be over looked when packing are ear plugs, an eye mask, reusable water bottle, extension cord, chewing gum, and baby wipes. 
I hope this was helpful for some of you that may have to enter the hospital soon. I also took the time to make a printable of this list with some extra space to add items of your own, so click here and print it off. 
Don’t forget that when it come to surgery, short term pain gives you long term gain.
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Have an amazing week,
Your Trusty Gutsy Gal xx

Posted by

Nathalie is a Canadian entrepreneur, blogger, architectural designer, and Crohn’s warrior. Nathalie graduated from her final university degree in Spring 2020 with a Master’s of Architecture. Nathalie decided to start this blog to share her journey and experiences. She shares daily advice on all things health, lifestyle, self love, motivation and environmentalism on the blog and over on Facebook and Instagram.

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