While in the ICU, your number one priority is to be there for your loved one.  During these stressful times, you often forget to think of yourself and your own well being. Below are some simple yet helpful tips/reminders:

  • WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES - you will be spending a lot of time at the hospital. Sneakers worked the best for my family.

  • KEEP WARM - it gets pretty cold in both the patient's room and lobby. Bring a warm jacket or sweater. The last thing you want is to get sick and be unable to visit your loved one.

  • STAY HYDRATED - drink water.  
  • FOOD is not allowed inside the ICU but you can leave snacks in the lobby.
  • BE KIND TO OTHERS, STAFF INCLUDED -  The hospital staff has your loved one's life in their hands and their job is to keep the patient alive and recover.  Why wouldn't you treat them with the utmost kindness and respect? Also, be mindful of other families going through a similar situation as you. They may not have had a successful surgery. They may have been going through this for months before you even got to the hospital. You never know what others are going through so be kind, always.
  • COLORED PHOTOS of family and friends to help warm up the room and jog the memory (see the Gallery page for examples).
    • We posted photos in each room we were transferred to.  This created a warmer environment for my father and also triggered memories and brain activity
    • It also helped the staff visualize what kind of person my dad was prior to his hospitalization

Step down unit / REHAB

Once your loved one is transferred to the step down unit, I recommend preparing for the following:

  • ROLLING CART - for the first few months, your loved one will be too weak to manage his/her own Freedom Driver to help carry the device. I researched a few luggage carts and recommend the Samsonite® Compact Folding Luggage Cart because it is sturdy, super lightweight and foldable. 70 Lb. Capacity, 37"H x 10"W x 12"D, Black Item # 815082 for $29.89

  • CLOTHES - your loved one should be well enough to wear their own clothes in this unit.  This will help bring them back to reality and get into the groove of doing normal day to day activities vs. wearing a hospital gown. Remember to pack the basics: sweater, jacket, shirts, comfortable pants, underwear.

  • SHOES & SOCKS -  buy a comfortable pair of sneakers and socks that are 2-3 sizes larger as your loved one starts to walk around more. Having extremely swollen feet is common due to inactivity. 
  • FRESH FLOWERS (not allowed in the ICU) - It sounds cliche, but flowers make everyone feel better!  They brighten up a room and smell good for all to enjoy.
  • HAND WEIGHTS (starting at 1lb., 2lbs., 3lbs. and up) & RESISTANCE BANDS (to help stretch dormant muscles and re-gain strength)
    • Do not lift arms above 90 degrees
    • Do not encourage movements that will irritate the chest incision
  •   COMPRESSION SOCKS w/ ZIPPER - to help with swollen feet due to inactivity. As a caregiver, compression socks with zippers are necessary. Otherwise, you will burn 100 calories trying to force them on. I wish I purchased these while my dad was in the hospital. They have been extremely helpful in reducing my dad's swollen feet (sold on Amazon).


Disclaimer: I’m not an expert physician – these are just guidelines based on my experience.