Thanks to the unpredictable nature of many chronic conditions, unexpected hospital trips can be a common occurrence. Due to often ending up trying to remember to grab all of my essentials, or being physically unable to pack up my essentials, I thought it would be best to pack up a little hospital go bag and leave it in my coat cupboard, all ready and waiting to go, in fact it already came in handy about a week after I began packing it. So, here’s a little peek into what I consider essential for any hospital trips or stays, although this will obviously need personalising to each individual need.
- A collapsable cup. This cup is leak proof, holds 350ml of liquid, hot or cold, and is safe for dishwashers. Having your own cup allows you to grab a drink anywhere in the hospital, and it has the added bonus of not allowing you to spill the contents, unlike with the tiny plastic cups! It is available in many colours and looks pretty cool. Many cafeterias and coffee shops are also handing out little discounts for bringing your own reusable cup now too, that’s always a nice bonus.
- Lip balm. The hospital environment, along with several illnesses, can leave you with dry and chapped lips, popping a nice conditioning lip balm in my hospital bag stops this from getting to the painful point. Plus, a little self care during a hospital stay, even a simple action, is important for giving you a little control over your body.
- Tissues. A packet of pocket tissues takes up minimal space but is a must for my bag. Noses can become runny from the air conditioning, or tears might need mopping up. You can never have too many tissues in a hospital.
- Face cream. As with the lip balm, hospital environments and illness can also dry out your skin. Plus, keeping your skin clean and hydrated will help to maintain a little normality and routine, amid what can be a confusing and difficult time.
- Wet wipes. Being able to have a shower isn’t always a possibility, particularly during a hospital stay, wet wipes allow you to feel clean and to by hygienic without having to worry about much movement being needed. I always stick to wipes that are gentle and suitable for sensitive skin but there are many different options to choose from.
- A phone charger. Your phone often contains a lot of your important medical information, as well as being your lifeline to the outside world, this is something you definitely don’t want running out of battery during any time spent in hospitals. Even in an A&E waiting room, you’ll easily find plugs, allowing you to keep in touch with others, scroll through social media, or relax to podcasts or music. The ability to escape from the current situation is vital.
- Headphones. Being able to shut yourself off and relax is extremely important. Using your phone and headphones can also be a great way to entertain yourself during long waiting times. I’ve packed two pairs of headphones, one for me, one for the person with me (I’m nice like that), and a headphone splitter so we can enjoy the same thing. Perfect!
- Eye mask and ear plugs. Hospitals are bright and noisy places, and many conditions are exasperated by both light and noise. A ward can also be a very noisy place to sleep, something that is important for your body to improve, being able to pop on an eye mask and put in some ear plugs can help to make all the difference to your body, whilst giving you some peace at the same time.
- Pyjamas. Something that is practical for allowing the many medical tests needed, to be done, but also something cosy, comfortable and something that makes you smile. I picked a pair of grumpy cat pyjama bottoms in Primark, with a light vest top, they’re comfy and even the thought of them makes me smile.
- Fluffy socks. Because who doesn’t need fluffy socks when they’re sad or unwell? I don’t even need an explanation for this one. Pack the damn socks.
- Snacks. As a coeliac I’m aware that snacks sometimes aren’t available that I can eat, although my local large hospital has recently begun stocking gluten free cereals, snacks and meals. Having snacks right on hand is always useful, you may be unable to get to a cafeteria or shop, or there may not be anything available to you, it’s always better to be over prepared.
- Mini toiletries. A toothbrush, toothpaste, dry shampoo and deodorant are what I can’t go without, and were therefore the first things I put on the list for my go bag. A trip to A&E can turn into a short, or long, hospital stay and being able to clean your teeth and use deodorant will always help you to feel a little better, mentally if not physically.
- A hairbrush and bobbles. Tangled hair that’s in your face when you’re overheating, feeling sick, or upset is just irritating. Always best to have a couple of spare bobbles for these times, and a hairbrush is always useful in case of an unexpected stay.
- Something to keep you occupied. A book, a colouring book, a tablet, knitting, whatever it is that you enjoy, something to keep you occupied. Personally, I chose my favourite Giovanna Fletcher book. I may have read it four times already, but I love it, it makes me smile, and it is a total easy read, perfect for sick days.
- Juice. I picked up one of the small bottles of Robinsons Squash’d. In most hospitals, or in my local one anyway, there are water dispensers everywhere and as I have to drink around 3 litres of water everyday, I like to add some juice, it can only help really when you’re stuck in hospital!
What are your essentials for hospital bags? Is there anything you’d recommend I add to mine?