August 25, 2019 at 11:13 am #21008Katie BagshaweParticipant
This was something I thought about a lot as there was a point in time where my Dad was regularly being admitted to Hospital due to the fact that quite early on in his diagnosis he had a bad case of pneumonia, and his disease progression worsened quite significantly due to this and the fact they unfortunately (and unknowingly) put him on high steroids to treat him ( https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/2016/01/22/ipf-patients-taking-high-dose-steriods-acute-exacerbations-may-poor-outcomes/ ).
There was a period of time where he was being admitted and discharged with some confusion over his long-term treatment plan, and it meant that I always had it in the back of my mind that with any severe exacerbation he was likely to be admitted to Hospital where he would invariably stay for at least a couple of days. With that in mind, I figured if it was worth compiling a list of essential hospital bag items to have at hand, almost like a pregnant woman has at hand for labour, so that should it happen, everything is there and prepared ready to go and it takes the stress out of running around trying to find medications, toiletries, clothes etc. Here’s a few things we found essential, but I’d love to know if any of you think there is more to add, or anything you would change.
Health history/Care Plan/Important Forms e.g. DNACPR
This was something that our fantastic GP compiled for us since it’s difficult for Paramedics to access records outside of the Hospital. It was a simple A4 sheet that listed Dad’s diagnosis, the length of time, his current medication plan (like the fact he was on O2) and that he had an active DNACPR in place which we also had with us. It also had the GP contact details as well as anyone else in the community care that might be of assistance such as palliative or physio or oxygen support. Other things I would have added to this is his expected oxygen saturation (so it’s less of a shock to those attending because it’s so unnaturally low to the average healthy person) and a way to keep medications and amounts up to date to pass on to the pharmacy team at the Hospital. I think this also helps because there is a thing here where you gradually get prescribed everything under the sun, but no one ever looks back to see if drugs are contraindicating each other or effectively cancelling each other out, or might even be the cause of a secondary health issue. Perhaps a little record of recent Consultant/Doctor visits and maybe notes on lung function/imaging results, though of course if you’re visiting the same Hospital they should have this on record. However, it would be super helpful to the A&E team receiving you so it takes less time to access records when you already know most of what’s going on.
Wet-wipes/personal wipes such as baby wipes and talcum powder are a great way to freshen up if there is a long wait for admission where shower facilities are non existent alongside roll on or stick deodorant (strongly scented spray deodorant may be a bit nausea inducing for sick people around you so roll on/stick deodorant is the perfect alternative). Of course when you do get chance to shower it might be handy to have a little travel size bottle of shower gel, or maybe even all in one shampoo and shower gel for less to carry alongside a flannel or sponge to use with it (I find flannels a lot easier as you can easily hang them to one side to dry out unlike sponges which always leak water everywhere). Your toothbrush and toothpaste, but a bit of mouthwash is also handy to freshen up. May sound a bit gross, but ask for one of those vomit bowls with a little bit of water in it, and you can use that to brush your teeth without needing to go to the toilet or bathroom. A little bit of intensive moisturiser also helps, I personally loved the Sudocrem moisturiser which you might expect to find in the baby aisle as it’s good for nappy rash. However it really helps with dry skin, particularly around the nose where it might crack because of oxygen cannulas sitting there all day and night.
This really is down to personal choice, a lot of people in Hospital prefer to be comfortable and stay in pyjamas or loungewear all day, which of course you’ll need for sleeping in, but my Dad really enjoyed getting dressed each day to feel some sense of normalcy. Nothing also beats a good pair of warm fluffy socks or a good pair of slippers with grip to wear when walking around. Don’t forget fresh underwear! 🙂
Entertainment & Snacks
There is inevitably a lot of sitting around and staring into space in hospitals as it can take a while for things to process and go through. Again, this is down to personal choice and what you enjoy but I always had the iPod charged up with some of his favourite music on there (really handy to listen to overnight to drown out the sounds of the Ward around), plus podcasts are interesting to listen to. I always packed the book he was reading and he was learning Latin with his notepad and pen to take notes, as well as his diary. He lost a lot of weight and strength so we packed sweets for him to munch on between meals, he loved liquorice but a Nurse also recommended Jelly Babies as they were high in sugar to give him energy. Maybe a couple of bottles of water and something like cartons of orange juice for a bit of sugar. There is more you can add like colouring books, puzzles, iPads to watch shows etc. but a few simple basics is a good start to work upon in the initial admission.
All in all, it doesn’t have to be much, perhaps a little overnight bag for the essential bits and bobs, much like the one I’ll post below which I think is perfect size to have in a cupboard with your essentials incase you or your loved one needs to go into hospital.
Let me know if you agree with some of these or if there is anything to expand upon.
August 25, 2019 at 11:32 am #21010Mark KoziolParticipant
Hello Kate, I think you covered all the bases. You provide some awesome ideas for hospital essentials. Thank you for writing such a detailed piece. Mark
August 25, 2019 at 3:57 pm #21024
Thank you Katie – very informative and helpful post for folks. So appreciate the time it took you to write, and know it will be good for others to use in future too. Great topic idea! If anyone else has anything to add, please feel free 🙂
August 27, 2019 at 11:50 am #21034Rose SottiloParticipant
Katie, my husband and I have a GO BAG also. He and I are heart patients, and my PF. All together in less than one year we have been admitted over a dozen times.
That GO BAG always has our up to date meds lists and medical history plus advance directives .
A portable phone charger is the best. You don’t have to worry about a charger cord being too short,or coming unplugged. Just place it on tray table and charge your devices.
Personal care items for both of us. Deo, denture tablets, lip balm, etc and socks and undies for us both. We tend to spend the night together if one of us is frightened, or unable to get up.
Always a deck of cards, and a few words puzzles from Dollar store.
I keep a GO BAG check list, the hospital’s TV guide, and room service menu in bag too, just in case we are stuck in ER too long waiting for a regular room to open up. Rose
August 27, 2019 at 4:56 pm #21038Robert McGrathParticipant
I have been teaching family and friends to play backgammon which I bring to hospital. We can also play when they visit, or play each other. Simple game to learn, lifetime to master. Is fun, gives people something to do, and boards are generally in a hinged case which is convenient. Comes in different sizes. Check Amazon.
I also bring a volume of The Far Side comic strip by Gary Lawson. They’re especially funny when on pain meds! Lol
August 27, 2019 at 6:08 pm #21044
Love this reply Robert, thank you! Humor is always important while in the hospital 🙂 I’ll check out the game you recommended too. If I like it, i’d likely find it beneficial both for unexpected hospital stays and travelling likely. Thanks for sharing!
August 28, 2019 at 7:23 am #21052AndrewParticipant
Hi from the UK (Lincolnshire). This is a really good idea, I suppose when you become ill it can be quite quick and you don’t have time to pack.
August 29, 2019 at 5:14 pm #21062David OtaParticipant
I think you covered it well. As an IPF Survivor of sorts and a Lung Transplant Recipient, I would add my own clarifications:
1. I would bring someone smarter than myself. As an IPF Patient I could not remember anything. My wife would come to every appointment, as a health care professional (Occupational Therapist) she understood what the Docs were saying and would advocate for me when the going got tough.
2. I load my med list in PDF form onto my Kindle. That covered the health history and entertainment in one device.
3. I would bring my Verizon Hotspot from work to connect to the internet. Some of the Hospitals and Clinics have horrible, slow or nonexistent wireless.
4. I always have noise blocking headsets. Sometimes I need just a little peace and quiet.
August 30, 2019 at 11:13 am #21070
Thanks so much for writing and sharing what you’d add to the hospital admission essentials – I like all of your suggestions! Noise cancelling headphones to get a good sleep is such a good idea. A hotspot is also a good idea – sometimes I try to do work from my laptop when admitted to hospital, but the wifi is never very reliable. I am going to look into this option!
Thanks for the idea,
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