When you or your child is about to be admitted to hospital for God-knows-how-long your head will be in a bit of a spin. Thoughts as varied as “When was the last time I shaved my legs?” and “Who will follow up with that suicidal patient?” or “I need some Tim Tams STAT to activate my brain cells” will swirl around and erode the modicum of decision making capacity allotted to you in this life. If you keep this list handy, you or your delegate, will always know what to pack for your holiday at the Hilton.
N E T F L I X
Obviously, this is the most important thing to organise. Download the app. Download all the shows you possibly can. Purchase data to allow in-hospital downloads.
[Hot tip: if this gets pricey (which, let’s face it, it probably will) then ask your relatives/friends to chip in some cash instead of bringing you food that you can’t eat because your surgery has been rescheduled fives times and you’re still stuck on nil by mouth.]
S P O T I F Y
This is clearly the second most important item on your list of priorities. Spotify is life changing. Did someone say hospital playlist?
F O O D
FYI, they supposedly feed you in hospital. Whether your meal turns up and/or is edible are entirely separate issues. It makes sense to organise some basic supplies in case your meal never materialises or you simply cannot work out what the meal is supposed to be despite a reluctant nibble and the not-so-helpful docket itemising the contents of your tray.
- Picnic salt. Salt is everything. It can take a meal from ‘Hell to the no” to “I would only eat this if I was starving for four days and had no other option. Oh, right, that about sums things up. Let’s dig in!”
- Hot drink ingredients of your choosing
- UHT milk of your choosing
- Breakfast cereal of your choosing
- Sauces and condiments that you simply cannot live without (i.e. Nutella. Obvs.)
- Nuts, crackers, popcorn, chips, chocolate, fruit etc. for late night snacking when you have the prednisone munchies
- Do not be afraid to order takeaway food – Uber Eats was totally made for this!
- Institute a rule that any visitor must be the bearer of quality coffee
- Cutlery – what else are you going to eat that gifted gourmet yoghurt with?
- Containers for storing snacks
C L O T H E S
- Pyjamas – because you wear them to bed at night. Even if it’s the dead of winter bring summer weight ones. Hospitals can be hot.
- Day clothes – because people with CF do not wear pyjamas during the day unless they are literally on their death-bed. And maybe not even then. Fact. You need two types of day clothes. 1) Items that have been freshly purchased from Kmart with an emphasis on comfort. They only need to last through your admission. If they last longer – bonus! 2) Whatever makes you feel like YOU!
[PS: this post was NOT sponsored by Kmart. Which is regrettable because they have rocking dog jackets on sale right now.]
- Active wear. A physiotherapist is unfortunately going to get you exercising again at some point. And you want to look the part, right? Even if you can’t walk 20m or lift a 2kg weight, just like these ladies.
- Soft crop top style bras with no underwire. If you have a PICC line it will hurt your arm to do up a traditional bra for a day or so. If you have a port in your chest area then crop top style bras should have a bit more give to accommodate the paraphernalia and can be more easily slipped off a shoulder to allow access. Underwire is bad news for many pieces of medical equipment so don’t put yourself in a situation where you need to get undressed and dressed again ad nauseam for every single test.
- Singlet tops. They layer to help you regulate your temperature. You can stay somewhat modest if staff need access to a section of your torso and they can be easily slipped off a shoulder or two.
F O O T W E A R
- Ugg boots
- Thongs – because hospital showers are not for the faint of heart.
- Whatever you exercise in
- Whatever makes you feel like YOU!
T O I L E T R I E S
- Lip balm. Nothing compares to the torture of chapped lips and no lip balm. Nothing.
- Tweezers. Without them that stray eyebrow hair will probably drive you insane.
- Clippers. If you are superhuman and your eyebrow hairs don’t aggravate then that hangnail will.
- Deodorant, face and body wipes. You know that you should shower each day. And you probably will. But, sometimes? It’s just one thing that you absolutely cannot handle now. And that’s cool. Use a wipe (or many) and no one will know. Your secret is safe with me.
- Razor. You might feel too icky to get rid of unwanted body hair. No judgement. Been there. Or you might have a super hot doctor attending to you which will highly motivate you. No judgement. Been there.
- Something to tame your luscious locks. Bed hair comes with the territory. It’s expected. If it doesn’t happen then you are doing hospital wrong. There will, however, be a time that you will want to get your hair the heck out of your face so bring whatever you need to do so.
- Scented products to give you a sensory shift from your environment (but be respectful about how and when you use them so you don’t accidentally asphyxiate your room mates)
- Moisturiser. Hospital is more dehydrating than an ultra marathon through a desert. Trust me.
- Consider bringing your own towel. Some people do, some people don’t. There are pros and cons. If you would prefer a towel that, you know, actually dries you, and are not super worried about infection control this could be a goer.
[Hot tips: 1) if you are using hospital linen take two towels as soon as the linen trolley is replenished and you’ll have fresh towels 2) shower soon after the cleaning crew has freshened it up. You’re welcome.]
A C C E S S O R I E S
- An umbrella. Odds are it will be cold, windy and wet when you are finally sufficiently oxygenated enough to duck out of the hospital for five minutes. You do not want inclement weather to kill those plans.
- A jacket. As per above.
- Toothpicks – because orange and poppy-seed is a very popular snack flavour at NSW Health.
- A bag to hang off your drip pole. Perfect for toting your belongings around with you.
- 50cm of velcro to attach your oxygen bottle to your drip pole
- Your pillow(s)
- Fan. Even a little $10 one from Kmart will make a world of difference when you have a fever and your oxygen sats are in the high 80’s.
- Some sort of receptacle(s) for flowers
- Cork/white/chalk board for cards, photos, inspirational quotes or…. “back the hell off” signs for the staff
- Chargers for devices
- Ear plugs. Old men snore a lot. Drip poles beep a lot. Disoriented people call out a lot.
- Eye mask. A hospital ward is mutually exclusive with darkness.
- Small change for when you are desperate for a beverage of what the hospital calls “coffee” or need a sweet pick me up. You may not have your health, but at least you can have caffeine and chocolate.
M E D I C A T I O N
- Orkambi – because the government will still not supply it any other way. Sucks to be us.
- Anything super vital to your continued physical existence. The public hospital system can be an illogical and disorganised place and they may not supply all your meds immediately.
- Chest clearance device(s)
- Nebulising device(s)
E N T E R T A I N M E N T
- Apart from Netflix and Spotify you might enjoy: books, magazines, colouring in, card and board games, knitting, drawing, writing, painting, scrapbooking, podcasts or Sudoku. Oh who am I kidding. No one enjoys Sudoku. Right?
[Hot tip: hospital is a busy place. It’s probably not the ideal opportunity to jump into classic literature. Magazines, short or light hearted stories are probably your best bet so you don’t lose track of what’s happened when you are interrupted for the 400th time.]
I’m sure that someone somewhere has a hot tip that would completely revolutionise my next admission. Let me know what you would pack!