Sadly over the last few years I have spent many nights in the hospital. I even took a week long trip to Mayo Clinic In Minnesota, and have had a couple overnight trips for treatment. Thankfully, it’s been awhile and I hope I don’t jinx myself by sharing all of this. That being said I was cleaning out my bag and thought I would share. I feel like I have been able to get to what I need in my bag for the hospital down to a science. I have also found that is best to just throw everything in the washer that I used from my bag when I get home from the hospital, and have everything laid out together ready to repack after I rest. That way it's always ready and I don't have to rely on my family to try and pack it in a rush. Because no matter how great your family is they will NEVER be able to grab your perfect jammies, or the exact pillow you want. So it’s best to have it ready so you don’t have to ask anyone else to pack for you and you know you have what you need!!
So let's just jump right into what's in my hospital bag.
Let’s take a moment and talk about the bag itself. The bag needs to be big enough to hold enough clothes and things for at least a week. I always have enough for a week as that is the longest I have ever had to stay. That being said you are NOT going on vacation, so you do NOT need a suitcase. Just a good overnight bag will do. Below you will see the bag I use and how much room it has inside.
- Comfy Clothes -The first thing like to pack is comfy clothes. Because there is absolutely NOTHING comfy about being in the hospital. So having clothes that you are comfortable in definitely helps. That being said all hospital and hospital units are different. Some units will allow you to wear your own clothes, while others require you to wear a gown. When you are wearing a gown you can wear whatever you want on the bottom just not a shirt. But I always plan to take shirts just in case. Due to the fact that you never know if you will be in a room with a roommate who keeps it at 50 or 80 degrees. I also keep usually two sets of yoga type pants or leggings and a pair or two of shorts in the bag. I also always pack a T-shirt or two (usually short sleeved, maybe one long sleeve) & several tank tops in case they will let me wear them. Most of the time I am on a floor with a heart monitor so I have to wear a gown so they can reach it. But I always keep a couple just in case because to me they are much more comfortable than those darn hospital gowns. I also always have a sweatshirt or lightweight jacket in my bag in case I get cold. Also to help cover me up if I leave the room for a test or for a walk.
- Pajamas - Next I always have at least one or two full sets of pajamas packed in my bag. Depending on the time of year that may be shorts and pants or two of each. I also will usually have a nightgown in my bag as well. On the off chance that I am put on a unit where I can wear my own clothes. Whether I am able to wear them or not I want to have them.
- Underwear & Bras - I will usually pack at least 7 days worth of underwear because that is the longest I have been in the hospital to date. As far as bras go if I think there is a possibility I will be admitted by my PCP, or that the ER will decide to admit me I will go in with a sports bra on! Then I generally try to pack 1-2 sports bras in my bag. That way I can change every couple days. Sadly, I have to wear a bra. It's uncomfortable feeling for me not to and I feel like it might be awkward if I don't!
- Personal Care Items- I have a bag within my bag that keeps all of my personal care items in them. I always have deodorant, body soap, shampoo, and dry shampoo (duh!), lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, and a hair brush!! I also keep some hair ties, and headbands in my bag as well so I don't have to deal with my hair in my face. I also generally will have some lip gloss or lip balm with me in my purse if I didn’t send it home. But it’s really a good idea to keep some in your bag because the hospital air is so dry. I know some ladies pack their makeup and skin care but for me when I am in the hospital I am SICK, and the last thing I want to think about is messing with makeup. I also try to always carry products for my period as it is not always regular. So it’s nice to have a couple pads or Tampons in my bag just in case I start my period while in the hospital.
- Slippers or Flip-flops- In my opinion this is a MUST!! It isn't so much a comfort thing for me as much as a way to prevent walking on dirty hospital floor. Hospital/Hotel floors aren't really known for being clean. So I never leave my bed without something on my feet. And most hospitals won't let you walk in the room barefoot due to bare feet being a fall risk! I also always try to shower in flip flops! But obviously that's just a preference for me, and may not be something you need on your list!
- Entertainment - Most of the time when I'm in the hospital I am in with a Migraine. That being said the TV is often to loud and to bright for me. So I always have my phone, and usually my IPad, that I can use to listen to a podcast or listen to Netflix (I know it sounds crazy but when you’ve lived with migraines you get used to listening to TV and Movie). Because I have those I always have earbuds packed in my bag or in my purse. There is also usually a book in my bag in case I'm in with something besides a migraine and feel like reading. But just think ahead when you are packing. If you like to knit or crochet pack that. Anything you enjoy or can help with anxiety is good to bring along. I also try to keep an extra charger for my iPhone and iPad in my bag at all times so that way if I have to run out of the house in a hurry I don’t have to try to remember to grab a chargers.
- Comfort Items- I've been in the hospital enough times to know that I will find little comfort in their beds. Because of that I always have my own pillow and a small fleece blanket to help me get more comfortable so I can rest more easily.
- Miscellaneous Items- These are items I don't always have with me for each admission, but are on my list for packing a bag. My CPAP generally doesn't come with me. But if you are in a hospital the expects you to, you should make sure that it is on your list of items to take. This may seem funny but I HATE wearing socks. So I generally keep a pair or two in my bag just in case I have a roommate that keeps the room like an iceberg! A pair of cheap sunglasses are almost always in my purse or my hospital bag. This is because my admissions are mostly due to migraines and I am always super light sensitive. And when you are in a room with someone else it’s not really reasonable to expect them to live in the pitch black just because you have a headache. Due to that I try to always keep a pair in my bag. A pair of ear plugs is also a good idea to keep in your bag as well. If you have a noisy roommate or are in a room by the nurses station these can be a life saver.. For me one of the MOST important things to make sure to pack is an eye mask! I sleep with one at home so it’s a comfort thing, but it’s also a good way to also block out the bright hospital lights. The last thing I keep in my bag is an old Walmart bag or unused trash bag, to put my dirty clothes in.
These are only items that I pack for me. Obviously everyone is going to have a different list for themselves. But I hope my sharing this list will help you to figure out what you need in your bag. Even if you don't keep one packed I would highly make a list of the things you would put in your bag should you need one. If you do choose to take some comfort items from home it will make you feel a little less like you are in a sterile environment. Having a list will also make it easier for your family if they should ever have to pack a bag for you. To be honest that was a big reason why I started keeping a bag always packed. It was just to difficult to tell my family exactly where things were that I wanted. And this way the don't have to be digging through my stuff!! That being said, packing a bag or making a list of what you would want in said bag, will make being admitted much less stressful or scary in the future!
This is a good view of the size of my hospital bag. It can carry a LOT. Or a little. And can be used for many different things.
Here I am showing you that I use the front pocket on the front of the bag to keep my trash bags for my dirty clothes.
Here is a look into my bag so you can get an idea of how much it holds.
This is the bag I use for my toiletries. I am showing you this so you can see the size.
This is what I keep in my toiletries bag. I a unsure where my toothbrush and toothpaste is that is usually also in there.
In this bag I keep all my hair accessories, headbands, clips, elastics, etc.
These are all the clothes I spoke about above. Just laid out so you can get a better visual.
Lastly, the blanket and pillow I take to the hospital. These don’t stay in the bag as they are my favorites. So they are always on my bed!