Hospitalization Series: Packing the Essentials

Last updated: December 2022

Packing for vacation is fun. But packing for a hospitalization is not fun. And packing for something you aren't look forward to can be overwhelming.

You tend to overpack if you're anything like me. Well, other people say I overpack. I think I pack appropriately. Especially if it is for a hospitalization.

Hospitalizations are often not one or two nights when you have cystic fibrosis (CF). We are there for weeks or months at a time depending on the infection and antibiotics we must take. And you must be prepared when you are going to be away from home for that long.

As I mentioned in part two of the hospitalization series, I had a pre-admission routine that involved getting myself ready for admission day. Another part of my pre-admission routine involved packing.

I would try to pack the day before I was admitted. My laundry would have been done by that time and everything I needed was clean. This usually involved the essentials I would take to the hospital. Today I am going to share with you how I packed my bag as well as what were my essentials when I was hospitalized every couple of months.

Packing your bag

I have lived almost three hours away from my CF clinic my whole life. Doctor appointments have never been convenient. And hospitalizations are never convenient. Whenever I was admitted, I usually had about two days’ notice. My clinic and I worked this out because I couldn’t drive to the hospital. By that point I was too weak and didn’t have the energy and had to have someone take me.

Along with my pre-admission routine, I had a routine for how I packed my hospital bag. I would have two lists. One list would have my essential items and the other list would have my extra/comfort items.

Creating these lists helped me make sure I had every thing I needed for the hospitalization. Also, it helped me make sure that I had everything when I was able to go home. I eventually made a chart that I could print off and write down how many items I had of each thing. For example, I could write that I took 10 pairs of socks, 5 pairs of pajama bottoms, and three sweatshirts. This helped me keep a tab on all my belongings.

Another tip I have for packing is using large, gallon sized Ziploc bags. I would use these large bags for underwear and socks. Underwear and socks can get lost in luggage and it was easier to find smaller items.

Packing the essentials

You now have a good pre-admission routine at home. Not only that, but you may have dabbled with creating a packing routine. But you still must pack. How do you know what you should pack? What do you do if you forget something? I have a list of essential items that I packed for every hospitalization. And I am going to share them with you today.

  • Undergarments. Making sure you have clean underwear and bras (if you wear one) can help you feel clean even if you aren't feeling your best. Keep these in a large, gallon Ziploc bag so they don't get lost in your luggage.
  • Socks. My feet are always cold in the hospital. I like to pack thick, warm socks. This helps me regulate my temperature. In addition to thick, warm socks I also pack my regular athletic socks.
  • Pajamas. Pajamas can help you feel more comfortable. Hospital gowns are great to have but are often drafty and itchy. Wearing your comfy pajamas to bed can help you rest and settle in for the night. And if they happen to have buttons? Even better! The nurses can access your mediport or PICC line more easily.
  • Sweatshirts. My whole body gets cold in the hospital. And if my IV is refrigerated before use I must wear warm clothes as it is administered. I recommend a large, baggy sweatshirt because your line is less likely to pull or get agitated.
  • Clothes for PT. I usually packed some yoga pants or biker shorts for PT because I always get so hot and sweaty.
  • Shoes. I wear shoes anytime I am walking in my room or down the hall to the kitchen. Having slip on shoes like house shoes keeps my feet warm. Additionally, I pack shoes with a back on them. The Millie Twin Gore Slip-on from Target is a great example.
  • Body cleansing wipes. There are some days in the hospital where I cannot bathe or shower. On days like that, I will use body wipes to clean certain parts of my body. This helps me feel clean and keep a handle on the distinct body odor that comes with having IVs.
  • Toiletries. I take my toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant.

As comfortable as possible

Being admitted to the hospital is stressful. And being away from family and the comfort of your home adds to the stress. Remember to bring things that will help you be as comfortable as possible as you get ready for your admission. You know yourself best and you know what will help you during admissions. Take comfort in what you can.

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