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This is written for Women, whether you are having the operation (or looking after someone).

You will have a scar 6 – 10 inches long running down the middle of your chest and for some people there may be longer scars on one or both legs from just below the knees to the ankle. You will not be able to drive for upto 8 weeks, you need to sleep sitting up, you cannot make a cup of tea or coffee because you cannot lift a kettle. You are going to be in a lot of pain and discomfort and this could go on for months (or not).

REMEMBER this is NOT medical advice

So I am going to give you my shopping list and things to do:

To do list:
Get someone to clean and iron for when you come home you will break your ribs again if you do it too quickly. If you have a garden and it’s summer either ignore or give the responsibility to someone.
Have the numbers of people who will act as taxi drivers and the number of a taxi firm.
You will need some cash for things, so visit a cash machine.
Make sure you have a phone one that has credit and does skype/FaceTime and email/whatsapp is best. Learn to use it and remember the charger.
Get waxed everywhere, it makes stitches, stickers, bandages much less painful to remove.
Make sure you have stocked up heavy goods at home.
Fill the freezer ( more advice in later blogs).
Change the bedding
Organise a list of friends, family and relatives to visit, help,etc
Sort out your clothes so that they are easy to locate and easy to put, choose the bigger loose comfortable stuff. Shirt type tops dresses are best as easy to slip on.

Find or buy and put in a safe place:
A thermometer, paracetamol, ibuprofen gel (tablets not recommended), cream for babies bottoms,pen, paper, post it notes, baby wipes or facial wipes, antiseptic gel, tissues, favourite perfume, some personal care treats.

I used a couple of 500ml mineral water bottles for drinking as jugs were too heavy. I kept one in the fridge the other by the bedside, add a few pieces of lime or lemon rind, it makes it really refreshing.

Vitamins: vitamin C (500mg minimum), a general multivitamin, vitamin E capsules, take them if you believe. The Vitamin E capsules can be squeezed and the oil used on the scars, better than Bio-oil in my view and the recommendation of Plastic surgeon.

Pillows:  you are going to need three or four so make sure you have them to spare just for you. I also used a V shaped pillow to keep me supported. There are many available choose the one you like. This is not the one I bought just an image.

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BRAS

This is a nightmare, they tell you to buy a soft bra, I bought a masectomy bra, sports bra, wireless bra – DO NOT WASTE MON£¥. If you have great mammory glands not an A/B size you need to take care in choosing your support. My absolute favourite is GENIE type bra or equivalent from ASDA(Walmart) or other stores I paid 6.99. Or look for tops with support, never for work for my size but you may be OK. Get a size larger because your weight will go up initially due to the fluids in the operation, then You will lose weight. Anything too tight is painful, since I could not get a painless bra and other complications I ended up with red sore places under the breasts – baby bum (bb) cream worked a treat! Soaked soft dressings in the freezer also helped ease redness and heat in he wound or frozen peas in a plastic bag and then a sock all worked.

Packing for Hospital
There are two stages to this process before the operation and after – admission & recovery.

Admission
No jewellery, no nail polish, had you hair dyed and cut, all waxed and threaded, been to the dentist. Now packing – the wash bag toothpaste, brush, floss, hairbrush, hair ties, face cream, lip gloss or a small tin of Vaseline, body lotion, wipes, small pack tissues, roll on unscented anti perspiration, baby wipes, small bottles of body wash, conditioner, shampoo. You need flip flops and or slippers, the former to avoid getting foot fungus, so many people complain I thought I would tell you.

Clothes: night clothes any 2 sets, underwear 3, socks, set of day clothes and a shawl.

Food: a late night snack, drink of your choice.
Medicines take them with you.

Entertainment
I took my ipad and phone, little bit of cash and credit card. Check the credit of minutes on your phone I racked up a £300 phone bill and T-mobile never warned me or told me madam you are well over your limit. Buy a package of extra minutes or do missed calls. As my daughter said it was a small price for your sanity!
I had loaded it with Apps, books,and games. I bought wifi when I got there!

Recovery

Pack a larger back with night dresses or pyjamas that open to the waist, I had five kaftans made with zips down the front in soft cotton, the best thing ever, i lived in them. For day wear loose easy to slip on soft tops and joggers. Good walking shoes. Get them to bring in things that make you feel good.

For food anything high in potassium as your levels will fall dramatically, dates, bananas also prunes, linseed to make your bowels move ASAP you are out if intensive care! Dry biscuits if you have nausea.

Bed Sores
When my bottom and bottom of my spine began to get sore I got an air mattress, a special cushion and a swimming ring. The first two came via the district nurses, the latter I bought. I also used the bb cream. If you let the sores actually develop it will take a very longtime to recover, so take early precautions.

I was rarely hungry and I only wanted sweet or spicy food, for the first time in my life I got told eat anything, but you need nutrition & protein to mend and recover. So here is

Chicken Biryani

800g – 1 kilo of chicken pieces on the bone
1 tablespoon each of ground ginger and garlic
1 teaspoon ground cardamom green
Juice and rind of a lime
Salt to taste
2 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli, if you do not have mix cayenne and paprika
Mix together well
Leave to marinate for an hour

Now add:
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon each of coriander & cumin powder
500 ml yoghurt
Piece of cinnamon
3 cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato purée
Optionally add fresh coriander stalks and chopped green chillies. Leave to marinate again for as long as you can overnight is good.

Rice:
Basmati rice only otherwise make Paella.
Soak 2 cups of rice in cold water
When ready to cook fill a pan of cold water add, salt, 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves black, teaspoon pepper pods, cinnamon stick,2 brown and 4 green cardamoms. 1 tbsp toasted cumin or caraway seeds. If you do not want these spices in the rice put in a piece of muslin (bouquet garni)
Bring to boil add drained rice and cook for about 7min take. Couple of grains out, press down and if no hard bits drain immediately, if not give a minute more try again. It must not be totally cooked.

Make a purée of 2 large onions or use eazy onions can, 1 inch ginger 4cloves garlic, 2 green chillies, some coriander stalks and mint leaves if you have.
Now take a large casserole or pan with a tight lid, add a teaspoon of coconut oil
Add whole spices: bay leaves, cloves, cumin, cardamoms
Fry until they sputter, now add powdered spices – 1 tbsp garam masala,1tsp each turmeric, chilli powder salt to taste.
Stir fry for 30 seconds. Keep heat high add onion mixture stir well for 3-5 minutes, now add chicken pieces a couple at a time, until all in now add remaining marinade, stir well. Cook for 5 minutes, add some of the rice water or stock about a small cup full.

Now layer half of rice on top, sprinkle with garam masala, roast onions, herbs. Now add another layer of rice, spices onions and herbs. Over the top you can add saffron dissolved in 4tablespoon warm milk. Put on a tight lid.

Cook on a very low heat if possible put a griddle pan under the pot and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Check chicken is cooked. I have left it in a low oven for an hour at 140C. Eat with plain yoghurt.

To serve decorate with herbs, roasted onions, boiled chopped eggs. I also do a chunky salad of red onion, tomatoes, cucumber & lemon juice. Seasoning to your taste.

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