Sadly over the last three years I have spent many days and nights in the hospital. I even took a trip to Mayo for a week and have had a couple overnight trips for treatment. That being said I have what I need in my bag for the hospital down to a science. In fact when I get home from the hospital, I wash the dirty things in the bag and repack it. That way it's always ready and I don't have to rely on my family to try and pack it in a rush. So let's just jump right into what's in my hospital bag. 1. Pajamas/yoga pants- I always have at least one or two full sets of pajamas packed in my bag. Whether I am able to wear them or not I want to have them. And I generally have sets for summer and winter. Because you never know if you will be in a room with a roommate who keeps it at 60 or 80 degree. I also keep usually two sets of yoga type pants and a pair of shorts in the bag, in case I'm on a ward where I can't wear anything but a gown. You just have to have bottoms on, no matter what kind. For me personally I don't feel comfortable wearing only a gown.
2. T-shirts/Tank Tops- I 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.
3.Underwear & Bras - I will usually pack at least 6 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 can be awkward for the nurses if I don't!
4. 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, 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.
5. Slippers or Flip-flops- This 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!
6. 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. Because I have those things with me I always have chargers for both and earbuds. There is also usually a book in my bag in case I'm in with something besides a migraine and feel like reading.
7. Comfort- 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.
8. 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 trim like an iceberg! A pair of cheap sunglasses are almost always in my purse or my hospital bag. This is because I generally end up in the hospital with a migraine. And I'm very light sensitive. So I try to always keep a pair in my bag. The last thing I keep in my bag is an old Walmart bag or unused trash bag, to put my dirty clothes in. Finally, one of the most important things I MUST have is an eye mask!
These are only items that I pack for me. Obvious everyone is going to have a different list for themselves. While preparing to write this I polled my friends who also have recently spent time in the hospital for their must haves. This is their list.
9. My fellow spoonies MUST haves: chapstick, Makeup wipes, fill-it-in book, crossword puzzle books, ink pen, maxi pads/tampons (just in case it sneaks up on you while you are in the hospital), cottonel wipes, cup for dentures, glasses and glasses case, contact solution and case if you wear contacts, coloring book and something to color with, a heating pad or rice bag that can be heated up. One friend also said if she is feeling like eating she will sometimes pack some snacks that won't need to be refrigerated.
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!
Special Thanks to Missy and Christall for sharing your personal lists with me!!