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Comfort box

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Pinkgiraffe, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Pinkgiraffe

    Pinkgiraffe New Member


    I am having a major knee operation next week, and will be in hospital for a few days and nights. I am absolutely terrified of being in hospital (some of my abuse was by a doctor, and occurred in a hospital).

    My therapist has suggested making a comfort box, so that when I am alone I can have things to look at or do, that will help me to stay grounded and remember I am not alone.

    One thing that we are definitely putting in, are letters from family and friends, which I am not allowed to see yet. We are going to put in a couple of essential oils and a couple of anchors.

    Has anyone got other ideas of what could be included?

    Thank you.
    Mara xxxx
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  3. Still Standing

    Still Standing I'm a VIP

    For me it would be an audio book and favorite music.
    Pinkgiraffe and piratelady like this.
  4. Rumors

    Rumors I'm a VIP

    A little off topic but are you having a total knee? I had one.
    I would take a good book! Perhaps download some movies/music on your iPad and take earbuds... House slippers, my robe, and my comfy blanket from home. Best wishes...
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  5. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I think letters from home, essential oils and anchors sound like great ideas. I would also take an audio book (may be easier than an actual book to read in the aftermath of anaesthetic and strong pain killers etc), music, some easy things to watch loaded onto my iPad (short, light, entertaining things rather than films or complete box sets that will require more concentration and brain power)

    Anything comfy, tactile and familiar...soft dressing gown or a favorurite throw etc. I know it’s hot here at the moment so, while a soft throw/blanket and cosy socks would always be on my list, you might roast in them in this weather!

    I also took a cuddly toy in with me when I had a hip op last year. No one in the hospital batted an eye lid about that! It’s a toy I sleep with regularly at home anyway - I didn’t just get him to take to hospital. But, even if you don’t already have one, it could be worth considering? Something soft and squishy...could be comforting/soothing to touch, stroke, squeeze etc.

    Photo of loved ones? Something - an object, an ornament etc - from home that you like and that will look, smell, feel familiar and connected to home?

    Handcream? It’s one of my favourite grounding tools - the feel of massaging it in is soothing. And the smell is important too. I think the feel and smell of putting creams on in a hospital can make things feel and smell less clinical and can make you feel more human and less uncomfortable about being in that setting?

    I would also take hand sanitiser because when I feel very anxious I like to wash my hands a lot! And if it’s hard to get out of bed, hand sanitiser means I can have that quick freshen up in my bed and feel a bit better.

    Do you like to do word/number puzzles? Or colouring in?

    Take a notebook in pen in case you want to jot anything down eg journal a bit if you feel anxious. You could always occupy your mind with writing out lists or playing alphabet games etc.

    Will you be able to have anyone visit you?

    You may actually find that the time goes pretty quickly in there as you may be sleeping a lot, then having some visits from the physio, and having nurses check in on you quite frequently, plus any visitors you may have come and see you. And you may feel very woozy from all the drugs so may not be up to much. So, you may not end up needing a whole lot of stuff to actually “do”.

    I was abused by a doctor when I was a kid so I understand your fear of going into hospital and having this done (on top of the usual fear anyone would feel about having a surgery).
    My therapist and I worked on quite a lot of things to try to lessen my anxiety around the whole thing.

    I know you’re asking about comfort boxes, but I’ll throw in another couple of things that helped me in case they might help you too, if that’s ok.

    Firstly, I gave the hospital a heads up in advance that I had PTSD and that medical professionals and hospitals are very triggering for me. I find that really helps and I have only ever have positive responses from it. I also give them a heads up that I don’t really like being touched - and that, obviously I know they’re going to have to touch me but if they could just be aware of that eg by talking through what they’re doing or by letting me know when they’re about to touch me and where etc (where practical!)

    I also asked in advance whether I could take a Valium if I needed to on my way to the hospital - they said that was fine, so I took two!
    I would suggest you also ask them for a pre-med. I said in my advance heads up email that I would need one. I then asked for one when I arrived because, as soon as I walked into the hospital, Adrenalin went whoosh and totally ate through my two Valium! The nurse said she’d get me one but forgot. And then, I was caught up in lots of anxiety and was trying to stay grounded and sort of lost all ability to advocate for myself...so I kept thinking “where’s my pre-med” but I just didn’t ask anyone again so I went without. Which was silly of me. So, really - make sure you get a pre-med!

    Giving them advance warning may feel a bit awkward for you. But, in my experience, it’s a lot easier to do it beforehand rather than to try to let them know things and make requests when you’re already there and feeling stressed and anxiety tips rising. You wouldn’t even have to say PTSD if you don’t want to. You could just frame it as having some anxiety about hospitals or just say you are feeling very scared/nervous and there are a couple of things they could do, which would really help you.

    Final thing - speak to yourself in a soothing way. In the run up to it and while you are there if you feel yourself feeling anxious or getting triggered. Tell yourself that you are safe, that your fear is based on the past, that these doctors and nurses are all there to help you, that after the op you won’t be in pain anymore/you’ll be able to walk better/whatever the big benefit of the surgery is for you. It may sound a bit naff but my therapist told me to do this - and actually demonstrated how to do it by saying these sorts of things to me in a session - and it really, really helped. It was incredibly soothing and calming to say that and hear it when I felt myself getting very anxious and having intrusive thoughts in the run up.

    Wishing you the very best for a smooth hospital stay and a full and speedy recovery!
    Still Standing likes this.
  6. Pinkgiraffe

    Pinkgiraffe New Member

    I am having my knee reconstructed.
  7. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member


    Grounding objects
    Pinkgiraffe likes this.
  8. Pinkgiraffe

    Pinkgiraffe New Member

    Thank you so much for your response!

    I will have my phone with me, so audio books, music, pictures and games will be at hand. I think I may end up with two cuddly toys.

    I hadn't considered hand sanitizer or cream, and I think that is a good idea, along with the note book.

    Dad is able to be with me quite a bit, I told them about having ptsd and gave them a little explanation, at the pre op assessment, so they are aware. This means that he is allowed to stay with me until I'm under the general anaesthetic and then until I fall asleep that night. And mum will be with me the whole of Tuesday afternoon.

    I am kind of hoping that the pain meds will make me drowsy and allow me to sleep lots, as I am not really sleeping at all at the moment.

    I have had valium before, during a regression, and I didn't react well to it, so I don't think that is an option.

    I had therapy this evening, and I spoke to my therapist about the speaking soothingly idea, she thought it was great and we spent a bit of time on that and I will do it with dad this week, so hopefully it will be relatively easy to do next Monday.

    What was your stay like and how long were you in for? Did you have to have many cannulas and monitors or things?

    Thank you so much
  9. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    Sounds like you’ve done a good job in your planning to make your stay and treatment as comfortable as possible.

    It’s great that your parents are going to be able to be with you a lot and that the hospital is happy to accommodate your dad staying with you until you are under anaesthetic/until you fall asleep later.

    I asked for a sleeping pill at night too and that really helped.

    I was only in for a couple of days. The staff were all lovely. I will say though that the info I’d given them a heads up on...I don’t think that info had got around to everyone. So, be prepared to say some of it again if you feel they’re not aware and if you think making them aware would help.

    For me, the key person who didn’t seem to have a clue about any of it was the anaesthetist and that part - especially him putting the cannula in - was not a great experience for me. So...I should have pushed for a pre-med way before we got to that point of me going down to be put out and I should also have told him about PTSD when I realised he was in the dark. I think those two things would have made a difference and I would have panicked less.

    Apart from that blip, it was all fine.

    I did have a quick chat with each nurse who came on duty to look after me - mainly about how I can easily get spooked, especially with touch. They basically come all the time to take your blood pressure etc so we agreed that they would always gently wake me up by speaking by to me if I was asleep when they needed to do anything, instead of just going ahead and rummaging around under the covers trying not to disturb me.

    Keep focusing on the positive outcome of how much better your life will be once you’ve got your knee sorted and you’ve fully recovered. I know this is stressful - and it also sounds like you have a supportive hospital, loved ones who’ll be there with you, a good therapist who can help you afterwards if there is anything you need help with, plus you’ve thought of lots of things to help you manage the situation as best you can.

    Hoping it all goes well for you - you’ve got this! :)
    Pinkgiraffe likes this.
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