Originally posted in Broken but Priceless Ministries’ e-magazine, volume I
If you are anything like me, when your loved one is facing a surgery, more testing, a procedure, or an unexpected stay in the hospital, the last thing on your mind is what sort of stuff to bring along. If you find yourself in that situation often, I recommend keeping a bag packed for the hospital. It’s just like a pregnant woman having a bag packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice for when the baby comes. Having a bag packed can make you feel more prepared when facing the unknown and less panicked about grabbing everything you can as quick as you can when something goes wrong. What do you bring to the hospital? That depends on a lot of things, like how long you are staying, if it’s an adult or child that is hospitalized, what sort of facilities you have access to, and how long you intend to stay. I’ll start with a few things that are generally helpful to have in most situations.
* Bring flip-flops or slip on shoes. The hospital floor is not a place you want your feet to intimately know. Taking off and putting back on regular shoes or tying and untying laces over and over gets old very quickly. Slip on shoes are the way to go. If you don’t have your own private bathroom or have to share a shower, flip flops can double as shower shoes.
*Bring change/cash. Many hospitals have vending machines and sometimes you can be desperate for a sweet or salty snack after a hard day. If you forget something, you can run down to a gift shop/mini convenience store that most hospitals have. I rarely carry cash or change with me anymore, so this is something I have to consciously think of to pack.
*Bring your own snacks or easy foods to microwave if you will be staying for an extended period of time. Hospitals try, they really do, but the quality of food can leave a lot to be desired much of the time. I like to bring food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and doesn’t involve much prep. Things like trail mix, bananas, apples, canned soup, and popcorn, are staples of mine. A lot of people like to bring microwavable meals too. Many hospitals will have a hospitality room where there is access to a refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, and toaster.
*Bring things to do. Books, devotionals, coloring books, crayons, small toys for children, a journal, pens, a laptop, etc. I have had days where I could do nothing else but stare at my son in a hospital bed as he slept and days where I was desperate for something to distract me from that place.
*Bring comfortable clothes that you don’t care if they get wrecked or stained. Pajamas, yoga pants, t-shirts, capris, and your favorite lounging around clothes are all good. Things happen in the hospital. Medication gets thrown up, antibiotic cream gets smeared into your shirt, blood runs onto you, and so on.
*Bring comforting things that remind you of home. Your favorite slippers, a framed photo, a small knickknack, your child’s favorite blanket, your iPod or MP3 player full of music, or really anything that can help you relax in a small way. But when bringing important items, keep in mind that things could get wrecked, broken, or even misplaced in a hospital stay.
*Bring your own toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, chapstick, etc. The air is generally pretty dry in a hospital, so good lotion and good chapstick are always a must for me. Bring you own tissues too so you don’t have to use that terrible sandpaper in a box that many hospitals lovingly offer.
*Bring your medical information. I have a medical binder that has my son’s current tests, scans, and appointment summaries. I also keep a medical journal of all major medical events, hospitalizations, dates, Doctors, etc. This is especially important if you hospital jump like we do. My son sees specialists from 3 different hospitals that don’t communicate with each other, so it’s important we can give them that information.
*Most importantly, bring your faith. It’s hard to be in the hospital and watch a loved one suffer. It’s hard to not know what is going to happen and live on the edge. Hold onto your faith even when it’s hard. That is when you need God the most.