Here’s my hospital bag checklist that I use to make sure I don’t forget anything when I’m packing ahead of time:
There are hundreds of audiobooks available online and at your local stores, heaps are free too. I remember sitting in the hospital and listening to the television, there’s so much you miss out on because so many of the characters have similar voices, and because I’m not used to not having my vision (a sense I’ve learned just how much I rely on from losing it from time to time) I haven’t developed that skill of distinguishing between similar sounds. An audio book would have been a godsend and the ultimate answer to boredom. Soon, I’ll be getting an audible account for monthly audibook streaming.
While most hospital’s will provide you with your basic sheeting, it’s always nice to have your own blankets from home. They’ll make you feel safe and cozy, and not only that they’ll probably be a lot better quality and keep you warm. My husband brought my doona from home and it instantly uplifted my mood.
Something my husband and I always seem to forget when we’re in a rush (and especially in emergencies when you’re not thinking and properly and just want to get to the hospital) our mobile phones. It’s so important to keep it on you since you never know when you’re going to need it. Most people would say they wouldn’t forget theirs, but try remembering it when it’s on your bedside table and you have to go the hospital at three in the morning. And don’t forget to always have a bit of credit on your phone so you can actually make calls. It has happened to us numerous times.
Most hospitals will provide a basic needs pack when you arrive, but I have been to hospitals (most commonly overseas) that don’t. Cotton buds and balls have many uses and it’s good to have them on you when you’re admitted since you never know.
Your usual habits and schedules are pretty much thrown out the window when you get admitted, you need to forget everything else and focus on getting better. But at the same time, don’t forget your existing medicine habits, it can harm you if you don’t continue the maintenance of your usual meds. Remember to talk to your doctors first, in case they want you to change the dosage or medicine type.
Just like bringing your own blankets, bringing extra pillows will make you feel much more comfortable. I like to bring three, one main one for my head, one to prop my arm up the one with the IV in it and another to put under my knees when lying on my back.
The nurses kept turning the lights on and off at all times of the day and night – and it sucked. I understand they have to do this to check blood pressure, blood tests etc. but it really makes the quality of sleep terrible (which does not help the healing process). I found wearing an eye mask helped so much. It not only helped me catch a few more Zs, but also helped my eyes sensitivity to light. Tip: If you’ve been flying recently or knowing anyone that has, ask them to save you the eye mask they get given in the welcome kit onboard.
Pack them in your bag! Just kidding. But seriously, it’s always great to have family with you. Bring family members or friends that you feel comfortable with, if you feel having them there would be more stressful than not, I suggest you have a read of my other blog post “The Watcher and The Patient” it’s really important you have “the conversation” with those you want to be involved.
Hair brush and Hair Ties
Female autoimmunees will testify here I’m sure, a hair brush and hair ties come in handy at the hospital. How you look obviously doesn’t really matter when you’re in the hospital, but feeling good does! Having knotty, messy hair just adds to an already uncomfortable situation.
Having a humidifier in your hospital room will help prevent many other problems including dry skin and sinus problems. It will also help make your room smell a lot better (if you add a few drops of essential oils).There are a range of different humidifiers on the market at the moment, if you feel buying one is out of your budget, you can also make your own substitute for a humidifier. Boil water in a large pot, and close the lid while heating the water. Be careful while handling the pot to avoid any burns or spilling of the water. Place the pot on a wooden table or on the floor in the corner, and take off the lid. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil in the pot after the boiling. This will give a nice herbal smell and kill flu germs too.
ID, wallet and medical information
Always have some identification and any medical related cards ready. I also keep a one-page summary of my medical history in my wallet too just in case (other than your basic history make sure to include the details of the medicines you are currently taking, any allergies and your blood type– this is very important).
Lucky Charms & Comforts – Green leaf/beads/puffs
I always feel better when I know my lucky charms are close by. Bring your version of “puffs” or teddy bear too, I know it sounds silly but they’ll make you feel safe and homely. Think of anything that reminds you of who you are, it doesn’t have to be a stuffed toy, it could be a notebook or beads that you can hold on to. I also like to hold a leaf freshly picked from a tree when I know I’m going to go through something not so comfortable or painful (eg injection etc) I rub all my negative energy out onto the leaf.
Drinking lots of water is important on any day, and it’s even more important when you’re not feeling 100% and keep general health intact. Of course, sometimes you might be instructed not to drink any liquids as you’ll be put on an IV drip, but once you’re allowed to intake liquids, make sure to stay hydrated.
You might see a pattern soon about staying hydrated here but really it makes all the difference. Pack a facial and body moisturizer, after a few days without these at the hospital you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about.
Plastic bottles, containers, knives and forks
Not all hospitals allow food from the outside, but some do. Sometimes the food provided by hospitals isn’t always the best or substantial. Make sure you check with your doctor. Most autoimmunees know their diets well, so bringing some extra foods/healthy snacks will make your experience at the hospital a lot better. Plastic bottles can be used also to refill water instead of having to buy new bottles of water, this will save you money.
Depending on your hospital’s policy usually a family member or someone close to you is allowed to stay with you in your hospital room overnight. This is where a roll up mattress will come in handy. Knowing your loved one can sleep comfortably, will make you feel better too.
What says comfort more than your feet being nice and warm? A pair of colorful and fluffy socks will brighten up any one while in the hospital.
Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste. I always forget to bring them. Even if you can buy them again (at an inflated price since they’re usually purchased from the hospital’s in-house pharmacy) it’s so much easier to have your own. The ones you’ve used before and that you don’t have to break in (brand new toothbrushes can be quite stiff).
These are a must have to pack for your next trip to the hospital. The ones supplied by the hospital are usually quite small and thin. Also pack some face or hand towels. These come in handy for when you need to do sponge baths or baths in bed.
Other than the extra bed pillows, a travel pillow in the shape of a horseshoe will provide great comfort to you while you’re in the hospital. Your neck will thank you.