Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to Pack for the Hospital

After many emergent and planned trips staying inpatient with Kendall, I have learned some invaluable tips that come in handy when packing a suitcase for a lengthy or short hospital stay.  The contents of my suitcase today have changed greatly from the contents of that very first hospital stay when Kendall had the first biopsy.

Let me go back by telling you what I used to pack.  In my warped mind, I thought I had to look put together if I wanted to doctors and nurses to take me seriously.  I have since learned that there is a different way to look put together.  I would pack nice jeans, nice shirts, nice shoes, and separate pajamas.  I would pack a different outfit for every day.  Basically, I would pack like we were going on a vacation.  In my defense, I had never stayed overnight in the hospital, other than to have my children.  After about the 3rd hospital stay, I met a very important person that would highly influence my packing habits.  In a way, she was my hospital style mentor.
So here goes...THIS is the best way to pack for the hospital

1.  Sweat pants are a must.  I'm not talking about the sweatpants that are tapered and elastic at the ankle.  I'm talking about stylish yoga pants.  Just because you are wearing cotton pants, doesn't mean you have to lose your sense of fashion:)  There are a few reasons these pants are a necessity.  First one being that you can pack about 5 of them and when they are dirty, throw them in the washing machines on the floor.(This reminds me, also back scented laundry detergent.  This helps you feel clean, even if you aren't.)  Second, they double as pajamas.  No more packing separate clothes to sleep in.  Emergencies can happen day or night, so you always want be prepared to leave your room and still look slightly put together.  In fact, the entire oufit you wear should be suitable for sleep as well.  The third and most important reason for them, when you sit in the hospital for many days, you tend to start noticing your abdominal region sticking out a little more than usual.  The elastic waistband on sweat pants comes in handy for this.  It leads to less focus on how much weight you are gaining as you sit.

2.  Tshirts with fleece pullovers.  It gets cold in the hospital.  These are a must for winter or summer.  Most likely, you will not go outside for many days so there is no reason to pack based on the weather (remember we are not going on vacation here).  These are also good at hiding the gut that is building from sitting all day.  The benefit of the tshirt is when you go to bed, you just pull off the fleece.  These are also great because you can just throw them in the laundry with everything else.  It is important to buy ones that are a little big because the dryers will shrink them.

3.  Comfy shoes.  I don't recommend wearing tennis shoes.  I find it is easiest to find a slip on shoe the can be taken off easily.  It has to still be a little stylish because you want it to look nice with your sweatpants.  It is also handy because you can keep them next to the bed at night.  If your child needs you quickly, you can just slip them on and run to the bed.  For GOD's SAKE, don't go bare foot.  As a nurse I know where nurses shoes go and what they walk through.  You can scrub the floor all you want with the PDI wipes in the room, but you can't keep those nasty nurse shoes from touching your floor.  You don't want your feet touching any of that. 

4.  Makeup.  Although you don't want to appear to be ready to go out clubbing, it is still nice to look a little put together.  Chances are, things will get stressful.  There will likely be a time where you go a little crazy on one of the nurses or a resident.  If you are wearing a little bit of makeup with your nice sweatpants and fleece pullover, the person who is at the receiving end of your tyrant will most likely just leave the room feeling sorry for you and not calling social services that a mom has lost it.  Makeup can also give the appearance that you have it all together when you spend your entire shower time bawling our eyes out.

5.  Laptop.  This is your only access to the outside world.  It is a must.  It also can come in handy when you need to quickly look something up so that when the doctors come in, you can pretend to know what they are talking about.  Don't make the mistake of sounding too know it all ish..they will see right through that and you will immediately lose respect. 

6. Snacks.  Not the healthy ones either.  You brought the sweatpants so you might as well take advantage of the elastic.  There are many times that things get so busy with doctors and nurses coming in and out that times gets away and you forget to eat a meal.  In cases like these, junk food comes in handy.  Also bring things to eat for breakfast.  You don't want to waste money on buying it everyday.  

7.  Your own pillow and soft blanket.  Even though I am psycho crazy about bedbugs, I have to have these two things.  Sleeping on the hospital pullout is bad enough.  You might as well have a little comfort.  

8.  Your sense of humor.  Things can get mega depressing as you are sitting there staring at your sick kid.  Especially when you read Facebook and hear how perfect everyone else's lives are.  If you fail to pack your sense of humor, you are at risk for looking like a fool.  If you get too caught up in what your situation is, you will fail to notice that you have children on both sides of you that are most likely sicker than yours.  The nurses don't want to come in the room if you are mopey and have the "woe is me" attitude.  They very likely could have just came out of the room of the kid that may not make it through the night.  Keep it light, find  humor in sick things, crack jokes with the doctors, and smile a lot in front of your child.   After all, it's all about them, not you!

3 more days until surgery.


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