Packing your bag for hospital?
What should you pack in your bag if you will be going to hospital. This is a list of recommended items to bring, plus some other tips.
Recently I had to go to the hospital for a course of intravenous steroids to treat my worsening Multiple Sclerosis. Before I went I had to pack a suitcase and I was not sure what to bring with me. I did a search on the Internet and all I found were lists for expectant mothers. So the list of items needed was not suitable for me.
There are many communities on the Internet and MS pals is a Community for people who have multiple sclerosis. I posed the question “what should I bring?”. There was an immediate response from all over the world including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, United States and Ireland. The list that I got was very helpful and I am using that as a basis for what I am listing below.
- Pyjamas: This is a personal preference, but keep in mind that you will probably have to change a few times. This can be as a result of sweating (hospitals can be hot), accidents (spilling food, etc) or damaged as a result of some treatment. Comfort is critical, and accessibility for drains, intravenous medicines, and not constricting. If you will be in the hospital for an extended period Inga Wellbeing have a great range of hospital appropriate wear.
- Regular clothes: Not all stays in the hospital require that you stay in bed all day, so having something comfortable and easy to get into if you want a walk, is a good idea.
- Headphones: I am quite sensitive to sound and when you are in a hospital there are so many things happening. Bleeps, whistles, laughing, vacuuming, repairs, and they all make noise. I have a pair of Sony WH-1000XM2 which are wireless and noise cancelling. They saved me on my last trip to the hospital. They were drilling for 5 hours, and they blocked everything to a very dull sound. Ear plugs can work as well, and they are not so expensive. (I get a commission on the sale of these from Amazon, if you use the link).
- Sunglasses: Sounds crazy, but the glare from the fluorescent lights can be a problem, and as I am photophobic these all cause me pain. I have a special pair of glasses with a Drivewear™ tint that blocks out all these and makes everything much more comfortable.
- Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, sponge or washcloth, wet wipes are the bare necessities. Bring a towel too, as they may not have one available to you. I have a small ultra-absorbent towel that dries quickly and is small.
- Bathrobe/Slippers: Something lightweight and easy to wear. Depending on if you are in your own room, or a ward, you will probably have to walk somewhere. So it helps with the dignity. Not too heavy, because the buildings are usually warm.
- Pillow: Hospital pillows usually have a plastic coating, and your head can get very hot and sweaty, so having your own pillow makes the stay much more comfortable.
- Reading material: This can be a traditional book with real pages, magazines, or a tablet that can store 1,000’s of books. The choice is yours. Fortunately, I have both. I am reading “I am Pilgrim” – loving it as a paperback, and I also have a few non-fiction books on my iPad. I am enjoying “Factfullness” and “The Story Grid“. Variety is important.
- Movies: Netflix is fantastic. I could download several movies and episodes of some favourite series to keep me entertained. My iPad had enough free space to have enough for the three days that I was in the hospital.
- Drawing/colouring: One great suggestion was to bring a colouring book and pencils. It is possible to be totally consumed by this and before you realise it, an hour has passed. It helps to keep you distracted.
- Extension Lead/Power Board: You might have access to only one socket, so to handle the chargers that you will have for your phone, tablet, radio, or hair dryer an extension lead is very useful.
- Chargers for phone, etc:
- Food: I was getting steroids, and they make your mouth taste very metallic. This can be uncomfortable for some, and so I would recommend bringing some boiled sweets, or hard candy, to suck and distract from the taste. Also, some snacks would be good. I had nuts and raisins with me, to nibble on, but I am sure some candy would be ok too.
- Water: Bring bottled water. I find that there is usually a taste on the liquids that you get in the hospital, and so I like to bring my own. I took one 1.5 litre bottle with me, and that was not enough. I should have had 2-3, as it was very warm 20C+ and I needed to stay hydrated.
- Sleeping Pills: Nighttime in hospitals can be noisy, and you are unaccustomed to these sounds. Steroids have a side effect of insomnia, and on my first night I didn’t sleep well. I did get sleeping pills for my second night, and that made a huge difference. Ask if you can get some, as losing sleep is awful, especially if you have fatigue.
My intention is to continually update this post, as I remember something, or someone lets me know about another useful tip.
This list was developed with the help of the Facebook group MSPals, especially Dee Y., Monique C., Magdalena K., Chelsea H., Lynne K., Joe-Ann R., Gary T., Tasha L., and Linda G. Thank you for all of your help.