Packing for hospital may seem like mainly common sense to many, until you need to do it. Most of you will not actually need to have a bag ready. Perhaps it is for a brief period, such as a procedure or treatment. Maybe you are like me and always need one in a handy place. Regardless, for the most part, packing for hospital requires the same items. Some procedures may have extra needs, or different needs. If you are a man packing for hospital will not include some of the feminine items that women may require.
Packing for a hospital is not like packing for a hotel or a holiday. You won’t be going outside, or anywhere much. You won’t feel the moods of the weather. You won’t feel comfortable or entertained unless you do it yourself. You may not get the sleep you need or want without help.
You will need to be able to overcome these issues, as well as the issues with tests and treatments yourself, most likely without pharmacological assistance of any sort.
The below is a list of what my Emergency Bag for hospital stays includes. It is the same for any season. It includes clothes that are ‘compliant’ (you’ll see what I mean soon), comfortable, unrevealing and easy to get on and off (again, you’ll see what I mean soon).
This is where I begin to enforce The Most Important Fact About Being A Patient. You must have separate day and night attire. It may not seem a big thing to people who are rarely in bed all day. Yet if you are you will already know how debilitating your illness can be and how overwhelmed you feel when you are in bed all day. Illness becomes your life. There is not break in your life. You are your sickness and it is you. If you stay in your pajamas all day you are letting it win.
Your Hospital Bag
The below is a list of what my Emergency Bag for hospital stays includes. It is the same for any season.
- Pajamas-they should be cotton with an elastic or drawstring waist. NO METAL. In the pants I advise drawstring over elastic as opening you pants wide at the hips may be necessary for some examinations and tests. Also if you get stomach discomfort it allows you to adjust where the waist band rests on your body. In the top I advise for a loose fitting t-shirt with a modest neckline. No low arm holes or singlets. Nothing see through. You wouldn’t show your bits to these people on the street so don’t do it here. I bought a summer set just for hospital, because I’m in there overnight A LOT.
- A warm buttonless cardigan– This is important! It can be knitted and baggy, I even recommend the arms are loose and don’t have cuffs. You can look like a hobo. But make sure it doesn’t have buttons on it. Or that is itchy when you are hot. You will wear this a lot. You will get to wear it when they take you for tests, but if they worry about metal they will take it off you. The hospital rugs are ok, but not overly warm. And some tests last hours. If the sleeves are loose then you can also wear it for infusions, which can also last up to 8 hours. If you are comfortable in this, then you can sleep in it. Otherwise…
- A light-weight jumper or thick long-sleeve shirt– This again can be worn over your pajamas at night or as a top during the day. So sleep in your long sleeve shirt and have a shower the next morning, change your underwear and yes, put this top on, but put a singlet on under it, or the cardigan over it.
- A T-Shirt– For day wear. Don’t wear something that hangs too log in chest or arm. As mentioned above your goodies would not be shown on the street so why here?
- Tracksuit, Yoga or Harem Pants– Once more I stress that you MUST NOT have metal in your pants. The simplest solution is to get the plainest looking pair of whichever pants are comfortable for lazing around in. I prefer yoga as they are the only exercise pants I have and I know they won’t have metal. If you get anything with a drawstring waist you must look at the waist band where the string comes out to make sure it doesn’t have metal eyelets. It is important you note here I do not recommend cheese cloth pants. The fabric is too light and it will be too cold.
- A Cotton Singlet– Just to put on under clothes if you are feeling a cold.
- Socks– Don’t underestimate how great you will feel having some clean socks to keep your toes warm. I would recommend two pairs.
- Underwear/Boxers– For obvious reasons. I would recommend four pairs. Because you never know what may happen. Sadly.
- A Crop Top– For women more so. This is to ensure you are supported and comfortable in the day but so that you are not wearing metal.
- A Travel Packet of Baby Wipes– this is a nice way to wipe your hands and face if you are concerned with cleanliness. I like it in the mornings as I get all gunky and don’t like using the rough flannelette on my sensitive skin. Also it is good to rub down after I have been ‘examined’ and had my blood tests. Lastly they are good for long stays in the Emergency Room.
- Toiletries– Private patients will get these when they are in their room, but you may end up in emergency for over 20 hours due to the nature of your illness or just finding a bed for you. In this case they won’t come. Or you may not be a private patient, meaning you don’t have a private health fund. A toiletries pack is easy to put together. It should have a toothpaste and brush, a small comb, body soap (mine is my sensitive pharmacist’s one) and shampoo/conditioner (I take my organic ones). Most supermarkets or chemists will sell empty or full bottles ideal for travel-sized toiletries.
- Medications– I keep a bottle of eye drops, Panadol and my antihistamines in my bag. It is just easier. You MUST tell them you have them but I prefer to take my own. With this I also keep a list of all my current medications, doses and the frequency I take them. Beside each item is the illness I take it for and when that was diagnosed. At the bottom of the list is a notation of what symptoms each illness presents with. This is because I have been unconscious when admitted before.
- Sleeping Aids– I have an eye mask a few packets of foam ear buds and lavender oil. Because hospitals are never completely dark or quiet. If you are in for cardiovascular or neurological conditions you won’t sleep anyway as they will need to take four-hourly observations of you. So whatever helps you to get down quickly is good.
- Electronics– Phone chargers and headphones. A spare set is my best recommendation. Try to forget it is there when you are at home so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot. A phone charger may be your lifeline to the real world. The headphones should have a microphone so you can take your phone calls privately.
- Entertainment– A cheap throw away novel, preferably one that you have always wanted to read. Don’t forget a sizable crossword book and pen. Change between these two and the TV or radio regularly so you don’t use up one too quickly.
- Cash– I would recommend at least $20. So you can get a newspaper or magazine from the newsagent or get home if you need. I realise $20 may not be quite enough but a good taxi should take you home and let you go inside for the rest.
So what did I mean about compliant? And why am I so insistent that you don’t have metal? Why could you possibly need to have a loose waistband and need to get clothes off quickly? What is the likelihood of needing many pairs of underwear?
Cotton is my fabric of choice as it doesn’t get as smelly. It doesn’t get as hot and isn’t as heavy as some textiles. At the same time it isn’t light enough that you feel cold. It is easier to wash, which is valuable when the likelihood of blood, iodine or something else getting on the fabric.
Most scanning devices require your body to enter into, or be put through, a machine. Metal will either break the machine, burn you or tear into your body. This is why you need to take out jewellery, advise of tattoos and prior surgeries. Diamantes on clothes, some sequins and beads, some threads even have metal in them.
Abdominal, pelvic and back complaints will bring you into frequent observation with doctors who may be asking you to move your pants up and down. Ultrasounds are used to test for a wide variety of these and that gel just goes everywhere. The more you can move your waistline away from that, the happier you will be long term.
Lastly, you never know if you’ll need to vomit or if you’ll be admitted to hospital for a gastro virus, or something of the sort. When packing for hospital, hope for the best, pack for the worst.