Packing A Bag For The Hospital

If You Think There's A Hospital Stay In Your Future, What Should Be In Your Bag?

When you pack a bag for a hospital stay, you'll want to include the things you truly need, and leave anything expensive at home. BURGER / Getty Images

For people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), hospital stays are an unfortunately common occurrence. Hospitalization can happen for a number of reasons, such as for getting a flare-up under control, for surgery, or for treating complications of IBD. If you think there's a chance that you might wind up in the hospital, having a bag packed beforehand can be a great comfort to you, and can help you avoid having to ask someone else to pick up items for you either from your house or from a store.

Keep in mind that you won't have a lot of space to store items and security and privacy are not usually available in the hospital. No one will expect you to "look yourself" while you're hospitalized and so cosmetics and the like probably aren't going to be of too much use. That being said, a few comfort items can go a long way towards making you feel better and be more comfortable. during your stay.

What To Bring To The Hospital

What should you take with you to the hospital?

  • Socks and slippers. Hospital floors are dirty, you don't want to be barefoot, and slippers with non-skid soles can help prevent falls.
  • Toiletries. A comb or brush, along with a toothbrush, toothpaste, chap stick, and some hand cream (hospitals are very dry) would be the bare necessities. You might want other toiletry items, such as a razor or feminine hygiene products, to make yourself feel better.
  • Comfortable pants. You might need to wear a hospital gown, but in some cases you can wear your own pants. Sweat pants, pajama pants, or leggings that are comfortable will be best.
  • Undergarments. Underwear will always be needed, and bringing along extra will be a good idea. For women, a bra might also be wanted, especially if it's more comfortable to wear one.
  • Money. You may be able to purchase magazines or other items from the gift shop. Some hospitals charge for certain other amenities, and you might need to pay in cash. But don't keep too much cash on hand. Ask someone to bring you more if you're staying in for a long time.
  • Something to do. Books, magazines, crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles, knitting—whatever will help you pass the time. High-end or expensive electronics might not be a good idea for the hospital because it's possible that they could be left unattended during a test or procedure.
  • Cell phone and charger. Cell phones are high-theft items, so you'll want to keep an eye on your phone or give it over to a friend or relative during surgery for safekeeping. If you're allowed to use it, it can be a very helpful tool and prevent boredom and loneliness. The charger is a must-have.
  • Eyeglass or contacts and dentures. Everyone needs to see and to eat! Eyeglasses are easier to deal with in the hospital than contacts.
  • Robe. A robe can help a hospital patient feel more like "themselves" and can come in handy when cold, when walking the halls, or when being transported for a test or procedure. 
  • Names and phone numbers. You'll want phone numbers of anyone you might need to call, such as your physicians, family and friends, and work. It's a good idea to have these numbers handy all the time, and not to rely on having it in your phone.
  • Insurance information and photo ID. Even though it might seem a horrible question to ask of you while you're sick—the hospital will want your insurance information immediately.
  • List of medications with dosages. You should carry this on your person at all times anyway, but make sure you have it in your hospital bag too.

What You Should Leave At Home

  • Jewelry. Take it all off -- even your wedding ring -- and leave it at home. If you own an expensive handbag, wallet, shoes, or coat, leave those at home as well.
  • Expensive electronics. Tablets or laptop computers should be left at home if at all possible.
  • Credit cards. You shouldn't need any credit cards.
  • Large amounts of cash. Aside from a little spending money if you need to hit the gift shop for something, you won't need much, or any, cash.

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