What do you bring when you are hospitalized for extended periods? I will list some things I have found to be helpful during my long hospital stays, and I will give some reasons why.
1) Hand Sanitizer or Hand Wipes: They help keep you from getting bacteria and viruses on your hands, and if you have any visitors they will be available for you to share with them to keep everyone from getting sick from outside germs.
2) Travel shampoo/conditioner or packets: Sometimes you get your own room with a shower, and depending on the reasons you are in the hospital room, you may be able to shower on your own. If you are going to be lying in a bed for several days you likely want to smell how you like. Bringing in your own shampoo in a smaller bottle or in small packets will help keep it from leaking in a bag and you probably won’t need to use an regular size bottle. Another alternative could be dry shampoo.
3) A cellphone: They will have a phone in your room, but you likely will have a list of numbers in your cellphone, and apps or games that you want to use.
4) Games: Cards, electronic handheld games, board games, etc. people will be coming to visit, and chances are the nurses will come in several times during the night, waking you up. For some people who cannot fall back asleep, a game might be just the relaxation they need.
5) Movies: When its daytime and you are alone, or with visitors you might not like the television options for the T.V. in your room. A few movies will be a good distraction to fend off boredom. Make sure to ask if you can use DVDs or have someone bring the appropriate option into your room.
6) Chargers: For any cellphone or other electronic equipment you may have brought with you.
7) Snacks: If you are allowed to eat, high protein snacks are a good option to help with your nutrition while you are stuck lying in a bed.
8) Pajamas: Chances are, you might not want to be wearing a hospital gown the entire time you stay in the hospital. If you bring pajamas you can feel more relaxed, and if the nurses and doctors have to do several checks on you, a long t-shirt might be a nice option.
9) Shower Cap: For the days when you don’t feel like getting your hair wet, but maybe you had a procedure done, like an ultrasound with the gel, and your body feels dirty.
10) Dispensable Shoe Covers: For outside guests, so that they won’t drag any dirt into your room for you to come in contact with.
11) Wheelchair Covers: If you’ve got a wheelchair, these come in handy to avoid bringing in unwanted environmental elements.
12) Inflatable Neck Pillow: Presumably you will have someone stay in your room with you, at least on occasion. Most rooms now have a pullout bed for this reason. Nurses will give you pillows and blankets, but to have your own, or one you like and don’t need to ask for, is always helpful.
13) Inflatable Foot Rest: For you while you are in bed, you can elevate your feet, and help with blood flow. You can also put one between your legs to help avoid pressure sores.
14) Chapstick: Hospitals tend to dry the skin out so chapstick can help keep your lips moist and soft. If you aren’t allowed to eat, or drink much other than ice chips, this helps.
15) Body Lotion: For the same reason as the chapstick, your skin can end up feeling lizard-like if you do not use lotion.
16) Facial Moisturizer: For the same reason as the past two listings, but try to use one for the specific time of year you are hospitalized, and one with SPF.
17) Heated Blanket: The nurses will give you pillows and blankets, but if you have a spinal cord injury or are just frequently cold you might want a heated blanket.
18) Cooling Towels: there are towels made with menthol in them. If you tend to get hot easily this might be a nice option to cool you down.
19) Portable Handheld Fan: Another option to help cool you down so you are comfortable.
*Note: Do not use products with alcohol: because they dry out the skin and if you are paralyzed or just lying in bed often, you could get a pressure sore. Ask your doctor or nurse prior to surgery, if you are often cold, whether or not you can bring in an electric blanket to help keep your body temperature stable.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.