Chronic illness can be a roller-coaster and sometimes those lows happen fast. When you realize it’s time for the ER or you are headed to the hospital for scheduled treatment, it’s helpful to have a bag packed and ready to go. In these scenarios, you have enough on your plate, so make things easier on yourself by getting things ready before you need them.
1. Your Medical History and Emergency Instructions
As I mentioned in another post, having a 1-2 page medical history with you at all times is really important. Print out an extra one to keep in your hospital bag just in case you lose the one you carry with you. If you have any emergency instructions such as how to change your insulin pump or standardized treatment during a health crisis, those should go in the bag too. If you have an advanced care directive or other documents regarding advanced care, you can include a copy of those too.
2. Extra Long Charging Cords
Usually there are plenty of places to plug in your chargers for electronic devices, but those outlets aren’t always conveniently accessible. Make sure you keep your electronic lifelines to the outside world juiced up by having extra long cables that can reach from distant outlets to your bed. I really like Anker cables because I find they work well and last much longer than other brands I’ve tried. (They also have great power banks!)
Hospitals don’t carry every medication, and you don’t want to get stuck with a substitution or going without. Make sure the medications are in the original bottle (even if they are over-the-counter) and that you let nursing know that you have them when they are admitting you. After you know what meds you’ll need during your stay, nursing will give them to the pharmacy for safe keeping and a caregiver can take the rest home. I use something like these to store my morning, night, and as-needed medications so they are easy to grab and go.
4. Underwear and PJ Botoms
Depending on what treatment and testing you’ll be having, upper extremity clothing may not be feasible (unless you have one of these nifty things). But usually, you’ll have the ability to change underwear and put on some comfy PJ bottoms. Little things like this can make your hospital stay more comfortable and less….flashing the entire ward when you go for a walk.
5. A Warm Blanket
Though those heated hospital blankets are an absolute gift, hospital rooms can still get chilly. It’s nice to have a blanket with you to stay warm and cozy. If your hospital and care team allow it, electric heating pads are also great. In addition to keeping you warm, they can help with some kinds of pain.
In the stark and antiseptic smelling hospital, a little scent from home or your favorite flavored toothpaste can be a welcome mini-escape. Using your own products can help you feel clean and more like yourself and you know you aren’t allergic. Just check in with the staff and your roommate if they are ok with scented products before you use them.
Other things that won’t be in your Go Bag, but you don’t want to forget…
- Your phone
- A Tablet or E-reader
- Your ID and insurance card(s)
- A water bottle with a straw
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