What to Bring
I started thinking about some things you might want to make sure you bring with you when you go to Costa Rica for your surgery.
But first, a little about the weather......It is warmer in June than in January, although the weather never changes drastically from one season to another. Basically they say there are only two seasons....wet and dry. December-May is considered "dry" season, June-Nov. is wet season. It happens that it's cooler that you would imagine in Costa Rica especially in the middle of the country where you will be. It's warmer at the beach coasts. But you'll be up in elevation so it will be cool, especially at night..all year. So definitely bring warm clothing to wear in addition to a few light weight things. Think "layers". You can always add or subtract layers which will carry you though any weather situation. Make sure you bring warm socks.
Actually it's quite beautiful when it rains in Costa Rica. It's misty and magical and particularly exciting when you view the "scenery show" as you relax in one of the little outdoor nooks or crannies of your recovery facility. The view is quite calming and peaceful and a wonderful backdrop to the healing process after your surgery.
Ok, on to the things I'd like to suggest you bring with you when you go to Costa Rica for your surgery.
First of all, you will need a passport to go to Costa Rica.....so..... you may want to look at your passport and see if it has expired or will expire by the time you go. Don't wait till the last minute to renew your passport. This is important.
Okie dokie.......now....here's a list of things you might want to bring with you. I know this list goes on forever....but hey....that's just me. Now remember, these are just my suggestions. Look them over and bring whatever you think would help you survive two weeks at the recovery facility, far away from the comforts of your home.
- Important to note: Patients will need to take an antibiotic called Levofloxacin 500 mg after surgery. One per day for 7 days, so 7 pills in total. At your consultation appointment with the doctor the day before surgery, he will write you a prescription for the antibiotic and also for pain meds. The medications, especially the Levofloxacin is very expensive in Costa Rica so if you can get your doctor to prescribe this for you so that you could get it in the states or Canada for at least half of what it costs in CR, you should do it. Also have your doctor, if he or she will do it for you, prescribe pain meds and sleeping meds as well as muscle relaxers to bring with you to Costa Rica. The prescription Dr. Lev writes for you at your consultation for the Levofloxacin and the pain meds will cost you about $200 and can be filled right after your appointment, downstairs in the shopping center where Dr. Lev's office is located. But it's better and cheaper if you can get these meds in the states or Canada and bring them with you.
- Bring warm clothes for cold weather, it gets cold at night. I know it's hard to believe since you're going to a tropical country, but trust me, the mountains get cold at night so be prepared. Make sure your clothes are button down, zip up, tie front so you don't have to keep putting things on and off over your head. Bring warm socks for the hospital. Your tootsies may get cold after surgery. Just ask your private duty nurse to please put them on your feet if you feel the need for them.
- If you like music,bring a walkman or IPod with earphones and your favorite cd's. Even better is to bring external speakers since it will be difficult to wear earphones or headphones for about a week after a face lift. If you're not having a face lift, the earbuds and headphones work splendidly.
- Take your pillow from home. I always take my pillow. It's my sleeping buddy (second only to my husband, who is definitely too large to fit into my suitcase) Again, this makes me feel like "home" when I'm away (and it will bring even more comfort to you when you are away for the purpose of having surgery, which, no matter where you're having it, is a scary thing.)
P.S. If your comfort-giving pillow is a king sized monster, leave it home. It'll take up too much space in your suitcase. My pillow is 32 years old. It started out as a king sized down pillow and now it's a flattened out, limp thing that I can literally fold in half and stick in my carry-on. I'm like a baby with her binky. It's a little sick, but hey, nobody's perfect.
- A sound soother is a wonderful way to relax away the tension. You can buy one at a place like Brookstone or if you own an IPhone you can download a sound soother app. The one I have on my phone that I love is called "Nature Sound" There are two offered. One is "lite" for free and the other one has a million more wonderful sounds but costs either one or two dollars, but it's worth it. I use the wind chime sound every night next to my bed and it helps me fall asleep.
- Bring snacks you like....comfort food for those middle-of-the-night cravings. There is no food offered between meals. Make sure the snacks are individually wrapped. You definitely do not want to have open snacks in your room....unless, of course you'd like little "creepy crawly" visitors. Whatever you open, store in your room fridge afterward. Also...you may want to bring one of those hot coils and tea bags. You can't access the dining area after 9 pm so if you wake up in the middle of the night and crave a cup of tea, you'll have it! Also...one of our recent patients recommends bringing those Crystal Light flavored tubes and an empty bottle to mix it in if you want a quick and refreshing drink after hours. Some of the patients have a rough time waiting from 9 pm till 8 the next morning to get a snack or drink. These things will help take the "edge" off. By the way, the water is completely potable in Costa Rica so just tap water will do. The Crystal Light powder tubes help bigtime with the taste of the tap water.
- Are you a reader? Do you love to read but never have two minutes to rub together to sit and relax with your favorite book? Well, this is going to be the best two weeks of your life, never mind the surgery. You will have tons of time to sit and relax and read. Bring all the books on your nightstand that you swore you'd eventually get to.....but didn't. Bring some magazines and Enquirers and whatever else you never have time for. This is the time for indulgent reading.
- Recent past patient Hope Morris had a few great suggestions. She recommends bringing the Crystal Light tubes and shaker/mixer bottle as I mentioned earlier, and also the following: Neosporin pain relief gel for after the stitches are removed leaving the area a bit tender to the touch, a book light for reading, a gel eye mask that you can re-cool right in your room fridge and use to bring relief to the swollen areas around your face postop, sucking candies and cough drops, an inflatable bed wedge (she says you can look it up on the internet where they sell them for $49), a small makeup mirror and lastly, a really good sense of humor, "You will need it on this amazing roller coaster ride of your life! Just sit back and enjoy the ride!!"
- A little more about clothes. Bring a pair of warm comfy slippers to wear on your feet as you shuffle around the Che Tica Ranch like an old lady (or man) in a home. I brought moccasins which were great. They served as slippers and shoes when I needed them. Also sweats is a good thing to bring for cooler evenings and the day you go to the hospital. Sweats usually have a zip down front and work nicely for surgery patients. Also, it has been suggested that people bring scarves, which is a really good idea. A scarf can be used to cover your hair, or around your neck when you leave for home to cover any residual bruising on your neck. Whatever you do, don't forget your sunglasses......but bring BIG ones...not little stylish ones...you want big Lana Turner sunglasses.....covers a multitude of sin!!
- You may want to bring your favorite toiletries, makeup, lotion, cream, razor, hair stuff, etc. Or maybe not. Maybe you'll decide to forget all that stuff and just let it all hang out....au natural. Besides, after a facelift, you pretty much look like Hell for the first week postop. All the toiletries in the world can't do a damned thing for ya, girls and boys! I say, just don't worry about it!! Now, with that said, we have found that conditioner and shampoo are a MUST. A little conditioner left in the hair after the first shampoo postop and then washed out the next day with the next shampoo helps loosen some of the dried blood and fluids that have matted into your hair from the surgery. The Che Tica provides both shampoo and conditioner.
- As for clothes, bring light, cotton, airy, easy, loose, button-down, robey-type, caftany-type, flowy things. Sarongs work really well, too. Shorts and skirts and stuff like that work well, too. Bring a pair of slippers or thongs to wear on your feet as you shuffle around the Che Tica Ranch like an old lady in a home. I brought moccasins which were great. They served as slippers and shoes when I needed them. Bring light t-shirty things, cotton camisoles and for cooler evenings, bring a sweater. Also light sweats is good for cooler evenings and the day you go to the hospital. Sweats usually have a zip down front and the day you go to the hospital, don't wear anything under it. It'll be easy to get in and out of when you go to and return from the hospital. Bring one or two extra cover-ups for cooler weather at night. And it will get cool at night. Don't bring five sweaters in five different colors. Just bring one or two. This isn't a fashion show and nobody cares what you wear, believe me. COMFORTABLE- LOUNGY- EASY- COOL- LIGHT- these are the words of the day. Oh, and did I mention BUTTON DOWN? (also zipper fronts work well). Also, it has been suggested that people bring scarves, which is a really good idea. A scarf can be used to cover your hair, or around your neck when you leave for home to cover any residual bruising. Whatever you do, don't forget your sunglasses......but bring BIG ones...not little stylish ones...you want big Lana Turner sunglasses.....covers a multitude of sin!!
Oh yes, and if you can fit it into your suitcase, bring a throw or shawl or small cozy "blankee" to wrap around you on those extra cool nights.
- Bring extra batteries for all your battery operated things. How awful would it be for the energizer Bunny to die on you while you're enjoying your, let's say for instance, vibrator, just as an example of something you might take with you that uses batteries. Wouldn't you just hate for that thing to go out on you while you're massaging the tension out of your neck?
- You might want to bring stool softener with you in case of constipation after surgery. I had a terrible case of it after my surgery and have noticed that many of the patients I've looked after over the years become constipated following surgery.
In addition to stool softeners, Dr. Lev highly recommends that you also bring some suppositories. If you end up having trouble going to the bathroom, even with taking the stool softeners, a little suppository (easier than you think to insert) will definitely help "get the ball rolling".
Dr. Lev gives each patient a prescription for 7 pills of Levofloxacin. You take two the first day and then one a day for the next four days.
When you fill that prescription down there it can cost you $75 for it. It’s expensive in Costa Rica for meds made in the USA. So if you can, get a prescription for it at home and bring it with you. Chances are you have insurance that will cover it and you may only have to pay $10 for it at home.
Dr. Lev says it's okay to bring your own meds, but it's not okay to take them without his knowledge and consent. It can be dangerous to self medicate without some sort of supervision from the doctor. So tell him what you want to take and see if he okays it for you.
Also, if you can't get prescriptions for the meds you want to bring, don't worry. Dr. Lev can prescribe the Costa Rican versions of the pills you take at home when you're down there. He'll prescribe something for pain and sleep and relaxation, or for whatever else you happen to need, if need be.
- And just for the hell of it, bring along a sleeping mask to allow you to sleep in past the first morning light (if you are so inclined) and bring a set or two or three of earplugs to block out unwanted sounds.
- Bring a brimmed hat to block the sun from your face. Baseball caps and wide brimmed hats work fine.
- For breast surgery patients, it has been recommended by Dr. Lev to bring a regular bra (underwires are okay) in the size you want to be after your surgery. The bra should have wider straps for comfort.
Now go and have yourself the most amazing experience of your life....have fun....travel safely...and come home with a beautiful new refreshed look and lots of great stories to tell your skeptical family and friends!
And Dr. Lev and I are here for you if you have any questions between now and your trip. Please feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to help you any way I can.