So, you decided that you’re not feeling great and you need immediate medical attention. You are going to the Emergency Room and there is a chance that you’ll be admitted into the hospital overnight. Here’s what to pack before heading out the door that will make your experience much easier and less stressful!
First and Foremost
Here is a short list of things that are absolutely a MUST HAVE.
- Identification Card
- Insurance card
- ONE credit card or debit card (just ONE)You aren’t going to the mall, for goodness sake! You probably won’t even use it at all.
- Phone, because lets be honest if your mom isn’t with you, she will want an update every 15 minutes to make sure you aren’t dead.
Pack Smart, Not Hard
These things will make your life a million times easier and your experience a little better (considering you’re going to the hospital, of course). *Pro Tip – if you are going with a friend or family member, have them bring you a separate bag with these * marked items (that you pre-packed, of course so they don’t have to go on a scavenger hunt). Have them bring it to you AFTER you are checked into your hospital room so that you aren’t carrying so much stuff around the ER. If you are solo, try to keep everything in a very small and manageable bag. Remember that you will likely be put on medications that can disorient you and you are responsible for whatever you bring into the ER. Anything that you truly need, the hospital will be able to provide to you, these are all just recommendations and if you’d rather not risk getting something broken, lost, or stolen, don’t bring it!
- Previous Medical Documents (See more about this below)
- Face Mask(s) – especially if you think you may be contagious or if you have a weakened immune system (especially very young and older individuals). Not only should you be courteous to others by keeping your germs to yourself, you can also protect yourself from other peoples germs. You can purchase disposable masks at any pharmacy OR reusable (and super stylish) ones on Amazon. (See Links Below) I got SOOO many compliments on my masks. You can be stylish AND be aware of your health!!
- Mini Hand Sanitizer (If you’re not a germ bag, everyone else around you is, better safe than sorry!)
- *Phone Charger – the longer the cord the better! Sometimes an outlet is just out of reach of your bed.
- *External or extra battery for your phone in case there is not a plug located in a convenient location close by.
- *A couple pairs of underwear (trust me, the paper ones they give you in the hospital SUCK) Oh, and leave the sexy stuff at home. Remember your goal is comfort!
- *An extra outfit or two (Save one for when you are going home. You’ll be glad to have a fresh outfit for when you are finally set free!) If you do wear clothes in the hospital, ensure they are comfortable and lose fitting. Depending on the reason you are there, ensure that there is easy access to your reason (example. Chest should be easily accessible for heart issues). Personally, I brought a simple black robe with me that I wore over top of my hospital gown. It kept me warm, but very easy to remove if I got too hot or if I needed to remove it for any tests, was lose and comfortable, allowed access to check my vitals, have an IV in my arm, and have blood drawn a few times. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy living in a robe for a few days?!
- *Laptop & Charger (this will help fill your time once admitted into the hospital) Be sure to put these all the way away when you leave your room – they can be a target for theft.
- Headphones – you can blast your music or Netflix as loud as you want and won’t disrupt your neighbors. Also a great way to tune out all the noise.
- *Book(s) – although, I found that I personally was on way too many medications to be able to focus on reading, but I listed it here because some people might enjoy the extra time to open a book!
- *Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, hair ties and/or headbands (no bobby pins), shampoo and conditioner (if you’re picky about these like I am) nail clippers and/or a file (I can’t tell you how irritating it is to break a fingernail in the hospital. You have to be able to fix it yourself!), deodorant. Ladies: Feminine Products. They provide all of these for you in the hospital, but it’s nice to have your own stuff. You typically use and have better quality items than they will give you. Side note: If you are doing any procedures or surgeries, they may request that you use their specific soaps and shampoos so that they can guarantee there is no residues left behind. Please ask your nurse if you have any questions about these things.
- *Light Sleeper? Bring an eye mask and ear plugs. It’s basically never quiet in the hospital and often you wake every couple hours from either noise, pain, discomfort, blood tests, medications, food delivery, vitals, visitors … Basically, be prepared to sneak in short naps whenever possible, Bring whatever you need to help you prolong your sleep as much as possible.
- *Prescription Medications (ladies this means birth control too!) Not only will the doctors want to know what prescriptions you currently take, you may need to take them while you are admitted in the hospital. The nurse will likely collect any prescriptions you have on you once you’re admitted and will assist you in administering them with any other medications they have you take while under their care. It’s nice because you don’t have to try to remember to take things, plus, they can ensure that the medications you’re taking don’t react with one another.
- *Backpack or tote bag to keep your things together. You don’t want a bunch of loose things that are hard to keep track of.
Leave This Sh*t at Home
- Cash – you won’t need it – even the vending machines will usually take credit cards. Some even take apple pay. (So fancy!)
- Jewelry – you will probably have to take your rings and watches and other jewelry off when doing many medical exams (CT, MRI, Xray, etc) and definitely if you have any surgeries! Best to leave these at home so that you don’t lose them.
- While we are on the topic – PSA for body jewelry / piercings – If you have glass jewelry to replace your metal temporarily while in the hospital I highly recommend having this in your possession BEFORE an emergency. Pack it in your hospital bag or better yet, swap ’em out before you head to the hospital if you can. Many procedures will require you to remove any metal from your body and it sucks to have your piercings close up and either have to re-pierce or worse, stretch your piercings back out to fit your jewelry.
- Kids – unless of course, they are the ones seeking medical attention. Otherwise, they have literally ZERO reason to be in the ER or Hospital. Not only is it difficult for them to understand the need to be quiet and considerate of everyone healing, you are also exposing them to getting extremely sick! If they want to be supportive of someone in the hospital, they can FaceTime the person, send cards or pictures that they have drawn, literally anything else but physically go see them.
Okay, so this is probably the best thing you can have with you to help your doctors and you in finding your diagnosis, especially if you have not previously established care with your hospitalist or specialty doctors that are treating you in the hospital and you have results from other doctors and facilities.
I used to bring my documents with me in a folder every time I would head to the doctor. Unfortunately, my folder needed to be upgraded to a binder because I’ve had the misfortune of declined health, but I’m so glad I upgraded! Buy a three-ring binder, page protectors, and tabs. Separate your tabs into different hospitalizations and/or time periods (for example: (1/2/18 – 1/4/18 XYZ Hospital) (03/2018 Outpatient Dr. Healthy) (5/10/2018 Colonoscopy)) or whatever makes the most sense to you. The most important part is that they are in chronological order (this matters when trying to find your most recent results).
A really awesome example of this benefitting you and your doctor is if you are repeating a test that you have had in the past, your doctor and you can compare your previous results to the current ones. For me, this was helpful when I recently did an ultrasound to get more information about a cyst that was found on my ovary discovered in an MRI. I had done this exact same ultrasound in April of this year and was able to produce my previous results with my doctor in order to compare my past exam to the current one. It allowed us to see if there were any other abnormalities (what’s normal for other people might be unusual for you and could be a game changer in your diagnosis!) Take your medical history into your own hands (literally) and be an advocate for yourself! Message me if you have any questions about my binder or if you have any tips to share!
My Glass jewelry was purchased at Oak and Poppy from my “piercing saver” Donnie Byrd. https://www.instagram.com/piercings_by_donnie_byrd_/
What tips do you have for things to pack with you when you go to the hospital? What’s something you’ve had at the hospital in the past that got you through?