How to prepare for a long stay in the hospital

So you’ve just gotten the doctor’s orders that you need to go to the hospital for an unknown period of time, but it’s not like you’ve broken a bone or bleeding out of your eyes, so you have a bit of time to get ready to go. One’s first reaction would be to panic and go there empty handed with nothing but you, yourself, and maybe your mom. However, there’s actually an art to preparedness in the world of the unexpected. Here’s what I did or packed up before my most recent week-long hospital stay because of an ulcerative colitis flare up.

  • Take a good shower. It’s going to be hard to take a decent shower in the hospital because you can’t get your IV wet. Your nurse will have to tape it up in plastic wrap like a cast. Also, depending on the nurse, it may take a while to get the nurse to actually help you with this. Also, depending on your energy levels, it might take you a while to even muster up the effort to deal with the foreign faucetry. During my first stay, I was a big seizure/fall risk because I had had a blood transfusion, so I even had to keep the door open so my mom could hear how I was doing. Luckily this time around I could have some privacy.
  • Eat something light. They’re probably going to want you to drink something gross for something or another and you’re not going to want to do it on an empty stomach. Don’t eat a full course meal or anything. Just a sandwich will do.
  • Pack extra clothes. You’re not going to want to wear the clothes you came in when they’re wheeling you out. Trust me.
  • Underwear. I almost forgot to pack those.
  • Sweatpants. Make sure to bring a pair without any metal in or on it, just in case you have to get some sort of scan done. CT scans aren’t a big fan of metal. They actually prefer pop and classical. You’ll have to slip them on and off under a blanket on a table if there’s metal and it’s super awkward.
  • Toiletries. You don’t have to worry about those too much unless you have a preferred brand of toothpaste. The hospital can usually supply a lot of these for you. My main issue was that I forgot to pack hair conditioner, which usually makes my curly hair a terror to deal with, but the travel sized Johnson’s baby shampoo they brought for me made my hair really soft. I also wear contacts, but I didn’t bother bringing them. My glasses were much easier. Also, don’t forget your deodorant. Ladies, if you’re thinking that time of the month is coming up, don’t take any chances. I’m sure the hospital has a lot of these somewhere, but at least for me, it’s less embarrassing to be self sufficient in this case. Pack it all.
  • Entertainment. This can vary from books to electronics. If it can fit in your bag, BRING IT! I brought my laptop, phone, the first of the Divergent series (my friend Katie later brought me the other two), and my 3DS. I thought about bringing a crochet project of mine, but depending on where your IV is put in, it can make doing things with your hands things difficult, so I decided against it. Those along with my room TV kept me entertained just fine. You’ll probably not end up getting to all of them either depending on how long your stay is. Don’t forget to bring the chargers for your electronics either.
  • Write out a list of the medications you’re on. This also calls for cover the counter things and vitamins you take. If you take it every day or if it’s prescribed by your doctor, make sure to take note of it for the paperwork you’ll have to fill out in the ER waiting room. I went ahead and actually brought my prescriptions with me, but I didn’t end up using my supply.
  • Fuzzy socks.  These are ideal because you won’t want to be wearing your shoes in bed, but everything in sight will be freezing cold. Sure, blankets are an option, but who could say no to fuzzy socks? Be sure to get a pair with the little gel grippers on the bottom for the tile floors.
  • Stuffed animal. A Pillow Pet would be the best thing you could ever bring. You’ll thank me later.
  • Patience. You’re basically hurrying up to wait. The waiting room of the ER is a horrible place of festering wounds, crying babies, and broken “instant” coffee machines. People who came in after you will probably be pushed in before you depending on how bad they look compared to you. Since what I had was “just” an ulcerative colitis flare up, I spent my last visit waiting 12 hours just in the waiting room. Apparently internal bleeding isn’t that big a deal. Sure, they processed a lot of work and did a bunch of scans and everything, but being cooped up and waiting is an awful experience.

If you follow these and maybe add some of your own ideas, you’ll be well on your way to a not exactly enjoyable, but… comfortable hospital stay. Just make sure you pray for nurses with good senses of humor and steady hands.

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