Ive done this so many times, yet almost every time its about to happen again I fill with so much sadness. Going to hospital sucks, no matter if its planned or emergency. But there are some things that help make our lives a teeny tiny bit easier.
I hope you never need any of these tips, but just incase you do, here are my essentials for any hospital stay.
If you are a family that sometimes needs to go to hospital as an emergency case, know it, accept it, embrace it and be prepared.
I have graduated from “bag always packed” to a storage crate with “hospital things” where I can quickly grab what I need depending on the situation (emergency / planned) and go. This also makes it easier for family and friends to find things that I may need brought to me as the things live in the box. In Dubai hospitals provide so much, in Poland hardly anything, but our needs as a family have been almost the same in both places either way.
-In Dubai we have often been lucky enough to have our own fridge in the hospital room, every gluten free families dream! In those that don’t supply a fridge however there is usually a patient fridge you can use. Sometimes there is even a kettle and some coffee making facilities. What ALL hospitals with a shared fridge have in common is that they want the patients name on any items they store there, usually anything without a name will get tossed away. So there you are trying to label your milk / cheese / juice at 3 am with a non working biro. Not me. Anymore. We have a hospital box now. Its just a small plastic container that is large enough to hold our butter, cheese, a small milk box and a few other bits. Its labelled with our girls name and lots of funky gluten free stickers. Not only is it clear it is ours, the box also protects our stuff from contamination. You can always spot a fellow chronic illness family by their boxes. Nobody uses a box for just a few stays…..
-A special hospital activity box. I saw another mum with this and was immediately super sure we would add this to our repertoire. I bought Ikeas smallest storage box and got the clips to keep it secure. Its small, but still large enough to fit things to keep us entertained for a few days. Currently our box holds colouring pens and crayons, a small blank book for drawing, a small colouring book. A stack of cards, Uno, some dice. A small Sylvanian family family, a beading set and some toy brochures. Our last hospital stay we had great fun decorating the box with stickers that I had brought along. I have spare stuff in our school room to swap stuff around with. The sylvanian family was bought especially for the hospital box so doesn’t get played with at other times, makes them special. Before the Sylvanian family it was a littlest petshop thingy with accessories. Its not so hard to find small things to put in the box, and whatever space it takes will be absolutely worth it.
-Toiletries bag. Yeah, so many times I would just franticly throw a few things in a bag, ultimately need more and buy it in the overpriced hospital shop or get hubby to bring stuff, usually the wrong stuff and he always without fail brought it in some supermarket plastic bag. We have toiletry bags we use for holidays and nights away obviously, but I bit the bullet and invested in a hospital one, large enough for me and kiddo to share, and always packed and sitting in the Hospital crate. Actually it was some freebie bag so I didn’t even pay for it. It has hand cream (you always, without fail need hand cream when you are in hospital, trust me on this one), toothbrushes, toothpaste, travel pack sized shampoos, soap, deodorant, a hairbrush and some hair ties as well as hair clips, and some sanitary towels. With the toiletries bag always packed I know I am covered. Almost everything is labelled btw. Because when your kid is sick and your brain melted 3 days ago, you tend to leave stuff lying around.
-Slippers or flipflops. Really. If you are in Poland some babcia or nurse will kill you if you have no slippers, and anyway, you don’t want to be walking around gucky hospital floors without. In Poland they will tell you off if you use your outdoor shoes indoors too. Just don’t argue with me (or them), bring slippers. (A small hint here, on day 3 or so of being in hospital your spirits will be a bit squished and you will feel crappy and horrible and you will miss your own bed, this is when your red IKEA Christmas slippers that you bought for 9zl in a sale will start to bother you because the other mums are all far more stylish and have way nicer slippers. Get nice slippers just for hospital stays, ones that scream that you are a fashionista and that will boost your flaying morale when its dipping. Not ones that make you feel like a total loser – trust me. I know.) Don’t forget slippers for the patient too!
-A small pillow and blanket, Make it a nice pillow, one that is usually in your kids bed, something that smells of home, and yet something that is comfy enough for you (mum or dad) to sleep on if need be. The blanket is to hide the hideousness that is hospital bed covers, and also again, for you incase you need it. Not all hospitals provide a bed for parents, and if they do, getting bedding is not always an option (or they give you the scratchiest blanket the world has ever seen). Having our own stuff has always been super comforting for both of us, again well worth whatever space it takes.
-If in Poland – Towels. We have been in I think 6 different Polish hospitals, only one provided towels and they were not very nice (there was more thread then actual toweling material). So in our hospital crate now lives a gorgeous pink ballerina towel for little madam, and a bath towel for me plus a small hand towel.
-Clothes, For you and your child. In Poland hospitals don’t provide gowns even for the sickest patients, so bring everything you may need. Keep in mind your child will probably receive an IV line soon after arriving so you don’t want long tight fitting sleeves, go for short sleeve things that are easy to take on and off. For you, lots of comfy t shirts and hoodies and soft pants. As long as your slippers look good you are ok, and you can use the hoodie to hide your hair. 😛
-Plastic bags. Seriously. They will give you stuff, your child will collect stuff, stickers and bears and small toys, you will need it for clothes that are dirty or have had accidents in. Just bring a few, if you can, hand dirty clothes to your spouse to take home when they visit.
-Charger pouch. Really, just do it. I have a small pouch with charging cables ready to go, you don’t want to be without your phone or iPad even for a second. I have a multi charger, so 3 cables can go in one adapter. Best thing I ever bought.
-A trolley case. A duffel bag may be all very well and good, but you may need to walk far with it if parking is bad, and in an emergency you may be carrying your child as well as the bag. Whatever bag you choose, make sure it fits everything on your list, and that it has wheels! We have a red bag that we only use for hospitals.
-Food. Snacks. Drinks. If in Dubai – ignore, just call room service 😉 In Poland however, you wont even get a bottle of water or a juice, you will need to bring all your own drinks and also snacks. For allergy peeps, bring your own food also. (Don’t forget coffee and tea and a cup and cutlery!)
With all that said we prepare for our next stay in hospital next week. Im heartbroken, but I know at least having all that we need will make it all a little bit easier.