Extended Hospital Stay: No one looks forward to staying in the hospital, even for a short time, and longer stays require even more preparation. Small frustrations that you can deal with for a night (or several) become increasingly more disruptive by the day. However, with the right packing list, you can make your hospital stay much more comfortable and less noisy. Here are seven essentials that you should bring on an extended hospital stay:
Personal Information and Medications
You have a list of all your important personal information: emergency contacts, doctor and pharmacy information, any allergies, etc. You should also bring a list of your current medications and their dosages so they can be added to your medical chart, as well as enough of the medications to get you through your hospital stay. You should also bring along your ID and your insurance cards. You may also wish to bring paper scans of them in your bag as a backup in case your wallet gets lost, or you would prefer to leave the originals at home. You should also bring along a copy of your advance directive, sometimes called a living will, in case of emergency.
Hospital gowns aren’t exactly known for comfort or for modesty, which is why many people prefer to bring their own clothes with them. When choosing your hospital clothing, opt for loose, breathable garments that won’t rub against the incision. Depending on the placement of the incision and the follow-up care you will need, you might want to purchase some dedicated post-surgery clothing, which makes it easy to get dressed with limited mobility and to access the surgery site without getting fully undressed. You should also bring along some hospital socks and sweaters to keep you warm, as well as some non-skid slippers or shoes to keep you from tripping once you are ready to walk around.
Your Own Toiletries
Most hospital floors have showers on them, and even if you don’t feel up for a full shower, washing your face and dry shampooing your hair can go a long way towards making you feel better. As such, you’ll want to bring a bag full of travel size toiletries, including soap, face wash, shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo, as well as your toothbrush and toothpaste. Hospitals are known for their dry air, so also bring plenty of moisturizer, lotion, hand cream and lip balm to keep your skin from drying out. If you plan on showering, you should also bring shower shoes to protect your feet in the stall.
While you will likely sleep a lot after a procedure, you will also have periods of wakefulness where you don’t feel like doing much. To help pass the time, you should have some light entertainment on hand, such as movies, TV shows, books or crossword puzzles. Hospital TVs usually have basic cable, but if you have specific shows or movies that you want to watch, download them ahead of time so you can be sure to access them. You should also bring a long extension cord in case your regular charging cord can’t reach the outlets, and you might want to consider bringing a power brick as a backup as well.
Sleeping in a hospital can be tough, especially if you’re in a shared room. There’s activity and noise at all times of the day and night, plus you don’t have control over the light and temperature the way you would at home. To help you sleep, consider bringing an eye mask to block light and ear plugs to block sound. A white noise machine or app on your phone can help provide an extra layer of noise cancelling if you are in a private room. Some people also find it soothing to use a lavender spray before going to bed. If the hospital lets you bring your own bedding, a familiar pillow or blanket can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer (just be sure to ask if bedding is allowed before you pack it into the car).
Hospital food has a reputation for being bland and unappetizing, and the vending machines usually have a limited selection. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring your own snacks — especially shelf stable ones that don’t need to be refrigerated. This will also make it easier to adhere to any dietary restrictions or preferences that you might have. Just make sure to run it by hospital staff first, as many facilities have restrictions on outside food and drink. While you’re at, bring along a water bottle, too, so you can stay hydrated during the day. It’s also a good idea to bring mints or gum so you can freshen your breath even when you’re not up for brushing your teeth.
Speaking of vending machines, you should bring along a little bit of cash in smaller bills in case you need to pay a visit to one. Cash can also come in handy at the gift shop and other shops in the hospital as well. Just be sure not to bring too much in case it gets lost or stolen in the hustle and bustle of the hospital. Large amounts of money, as well as other valuables (such as jewelry and large electronics), should be left at home. If the hospital does provide a secure drawer or locker to store your things, it will likely be pretty small, so make sure that all your valuables will fit inside and leave the others at home.
Don’t forget these seven essential things as you prepare for your extended hospital stay. We wish you an easy procedure and a fast recovery!