Unlike those who pop in to hospitals for routine procedures such as tonsil removal, wisdom teeth extraction or grommets and are released the same day, rare disease and chronic illness patients spend a vast amount of time admitted to hospital for procedures, testing and infusions. For many, this could be days, weeks and for some, even months. There are no better advisors on what pack in your hospital bag than those who spend extended periods of time in a ward – either the patients themselves, or their parents.
The top 10 items which you should pack in your hospital bag (in descending order of popularity based on the number of mentions they received):
1. Adaptors (multiplug) & Extension cords
Many hospitals only have a single plug point available for use by patients and it’s often a 3-point plug. Take a long a 2-pin adaptor at the very least for mobile phone chargers, but the ideal solution is to pack a multiplug with multiple 3 and 2 pin points. This way you can charge all the necessities (mobile phones, ipads etc) and to be able to work on laptops while waiting.
For the unexpected admissions or for longer than anticipated stays, Powerbanks are an easy and portable solution for charging the technological necessities if you can’t reach or don’t have access to a plug point.
3. Eye Mask
For those in private wards, you may have the luxury of switching off the lights at your discretion, but for those in shared wards or ICU, it’s recommended you pack an eye mask to block out some of the light when trying to sleep. This goes for family members too who are trying to make themselves comfy in the lazyboy chair in the corner.
4. Printed Personal Record
For many patients with rare conditions, there are additional complications or secondary conditions which may complicate treatment that doctors and nurses should be aware of. Instead of trying to remember all of these details by heart – and under pressure when completing admission forms – #RareWarrior moms have recommended having a personal record printed which is updated regularly and stays in the hospital bag which can be passed to the nurses for ease of reference. Information to include on this record includes:
All rare or chronic diseases and descriptions of each
Previous surgeries and any complications / side effects
Doctors & Specialists names and contact details
Special Dietary Requirements
This one came up frequently and appears to be every #RareMom‘s survival tool for the long days and nights. Whilst hospitals do provide instant coffee and usually do have a restaurant – for those spending multiple days and nights in the ward it can become time consuming and expensive to maintain the caffeine fix! The solution – pack in those 3-in-1 Cappuccino sachets which only require hot water for instant satisfaction! Most also recommend packing your own mug so you don’t need to pester nursing sisters for one each time and possibly even a flask so you can keep a supply of hot water on hand.
6. Sleepover Basics
Hospital admissions may come unexpectedly and no one likes to be without their own home comforts when staying over. Keep a pair of Pyjamas, slippers and a toiletry bag in your hospital bag so you always have your hygiene basics with you. Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste, facecloth, soap and wet wipes in your hospital bag as a back up if you don’t get the opportunity to pack and prepare in advance – this goes for patients and family members staying over.
7. Activity Pack
For parents with little ones being admitted – consider keeping a stash of bed-bound activities to keep them entertained. This could include books, puzzles, board games, iPads with educational activities and movies, toys and books and crayons for colouring in.
8. Head Phones and Ear Plugs
Whilst hospitals do provide ear plugs at a small fee in order to watch the TV, if you’re likely to be admitted frequently it may be worthwhile investing in a decent pair of ear phones which block environmental noise. Ear plugs also came highly recommended for sleep time – particularly in shared wards and ICU or high care in order to block out some of the beeps and noise.
9. Pre-Packed Meds
Consider packing a pill box with your required medication that can stay in the hospital bag in the event of an unplanned admission so you have, at minimum, a weeks worth of medication with you. Just remember to use and replace meds before their expiry date.
10. Rechargeable heat packs
Hospital wards can be chilly and most don’t allow the use of hot water bottles for obvious safety reasons. Some retailers sell rechargeable heat packs which are perfect for aiding with pain management – but again, don’t forget your multiplug in order to recharge it!