CFers are unfortunately used to lengthy hospital stays, usually at a minimum of 10 days, as we endure plenty of lung infections, surgeries, and other complications, so we learn what to bring for help and comfort. I recently got out of the hosptial after a 5.5 weeks stay split between time at the main hospital and the rehab hospital as I had a major emergency abdominal surgery. That hospitalization definitely topped out at my longest stay. There have been many patients, doctors, nurses, therapists, and visitors that absolutely love everything I bring to each hospital stay, and most all of them have recommended I share these items in an post so that anyone who need to go to the hospital for any period of time can have the most comfortable and encouraging hospitalization possible for the patient, visitors, and hospital staff. So if you’re a chronic illness warrior or know someone who is or plan to visit someone in the hospital, then this is written just for you! Everything in this post that that I bring to the hospital has been permitted on all the units I have been on so far, but make sure you double check with the nurses to ensure it’s okay if the item seems questionable as sometimes units have the strangest rules. I will include links to as many of these products as possible so you can find them yourself. Let’s dive in!
First of all, you can always bring and use your own clothes, hygiene items, PJs, and personal items such as glasses, a phone charger, hearing aids, glucose monitor, and a laptop. This will make your stay so much more comfortable. Leave the jewelry and expensive or valuable items at home though!
I always bring my Bible and a devotional or Christ-centered book to start my day off with a right frame of mind and refocus on the Lord as being sick and in the hospital can often lead to discouragement, and it is vital to ground myself in Jesus and His promises. I’m currently reading this gorgeous devotional book by one of my favorite singers, Ellie Holcomb, that is soothing to a weary heart.
An extension cord power strip is one of my most used items to recommend! It provides the power for my laptop, Nintendo Switch, heating pad, phone, humidifier, essential oil diffuser, etc within reach of the bed when I’m too sick to get out of bed, and prevents me from having to find an outlet and get up every time I wish to plug something in. You can find one at places like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s and similar stores. I tuck my power strip right next to one side of the bedrail, and leave that rail up to make sure I never lose a charging cord that I might be looking for and need. Make sure your power cords are free of any shorts or broken casings.
Christmas lights! These add such a cozy, homey ambiance that I love and all of my visors and hospital staff love. It also immediately helps visitors feel at ease and not so uptight when visiting an unfamiliar and sometimes awkward place like a hospital room. I leave the lights on 24/7, and they provide ability for my nurse to see medications and machines at night without needing to turn on the fluorescent overhead light. I like the warm white lights, but colored bulb lights could be used too. Get a few strands at Christmas time so you can have some as backup in case one strand breaks. These are everyone's favorite thing about my hospital room from the moment they walk in.
I always bring my own blankets and a pillow from my bed at home inside a colorful pillowcase (to make sure I know which pillow is mine apart from the hospital pillows). These personal linens are so much more comfortable and heavier than the scratchy and thin hospital linens and flat, plastic-y hospital pillows, and they add some pleasing color to a bleak and sterile hospital room. I also bring a large throw pillow and favorite throw blanket to soften and liven up the recliner chair in the hospital room too. This makes it more comfortable after surgeries and whenever visitors come to stay for awhile.
Hospital rooms are SO dry, so a deeply moisturizing lotion is vital, as well as a lovely scented body spray to freshen up really fast for a visitor or self comfort. Of course I have my sweet cinnamon pumpkin spray since I’m such a pumpkin spice and autumn fanatic, and a horribly obsessed Bath and Body Works lover. Yes, I know their products are not the best, but honestly at this point in my life, I'm far more focused on my physical comfort than what goes in my body. Chronic, progressive illnesses are a train that just keeps steaming forward no matter what diet, vitamin, or health efforts I do, and I might as well soften its impact. So yes, I will gladly keep at minimum 2 body sprays and 3 lotions with me in the hospital.
A bathroom caddy is incredibly helpful to keep necessary items within reach of the hospital bed. I keep things like hygiene items, my hairbrush, some respiratory equipment, small interactive books like sudoku and word finds, mints, nail polish and remover (definitely need to keep those nails on point), plastic silverware and napkins, tissue packets, hand sanitizer bottle, scissors, feeding tube syringe, ostomy scissors, electronic chargers, a stress ball and silly putty, and a pen and paper in mine. You can find a caddy at any home goods store like Walmart or Target.
Boredom will set in very quickly, so my electronics are a must to bring along with me. I have my laptop for remote work and writing, my Nintendo Switch for connecting with friends and entertaining myself, my iPad for movies and TV shows during treatments, and of course my phone is with me 24/7 to stay in touch with my loved ones.
A well made, noise cancelling pair of headphone or earbuds absolutely must be within reach at the hospital. Hospitals can get noisy with yelling patients, chatty nurses, and overhead announcements, music is excellent for coping with pain and discomfort, and they help with talking on the phone. I was gifted this fantastic pair of noise canceling AirPods that connect to my iPhone, and I keep them within arm’s reach at all times.
Books are one of my greatest joys in life, so I make sure to bring a variety of books to choose from to enjoy during down time. Sometimes friends visiting also enjoy reading one of my books alongside me for an afternoon. I arrange them all on a little TV tray table I bring from home as counter space and sometimes even a nightstand is not a thing to be found in hospital rooms, and this TV tray table doubles as a great spot for random knick knacks I may accumulate or a great place for putting a plant or flowers that someone so sweetly brings me when they visit. I also love to put posters or photos on the walls or doors of things I love. These help with distraction from procedures, treatments, and boredom. I have a huge poster of a wolf hiding in the snowy pine trees that I bring each stay. I especially delight in making my faith in Christ visible to the healthcare staff, and I was recently gifted this amazing frame with interchangable Scriptures and words of encouragement. It’s a great conversation piece and encouragement to anyone who comes in my room.
I often want a cold juice, ginger ale for upset stomach, or a small milk carton for a midnight cereal snack, but asking the nurse for these can take quite awhile. The solution? A desktop-sized mini fridge! This tiny fridge that I was so wonderful gifted perfectly fits bottles of juice, little milk cartons, dog food for Skipper, any refrigerated meds, soda, yogurt, snacks, and more. It even fit a mini cheesecake that my physical therapist brought me for my birthday! This one I have can also keep food warm, so it's a solution for any cold or hot food struggles.
Hospitals are full of unpleasant scents that can be nauseating and unsettling. I put myself and visitors at ease with a wall plug-in. Hospital staff immediately breathe a sigh a relaxation when they enter my pleasantly scented room too and highly praise my scented room. I currently have a pumpkin clove scented wall plug-in from Bath and Body Works, and it’s the talk of the rehab hospital. Make sure you select a scent that’s not so overwhelming that it becomes just as nauseating as the hospital smell you were trying to avoid. Newer plugs have a control knob or button so that you can manage the amount of fragrance released. Basic scents like eucalyptus, cinnamon/spices, woodsy, lavender, citrus, clean linen, etc are options that are likely to be enjoyed without being overwhelming and also accomplish masking any unpleasant odors.
A great way to enjoy time with visitors while not overly exhausting yourself if you are the patient is by playing some simple board games that everyone knows how to play, such as Battleship, Clue, Uno, Monopoly, cards, or the newer game that's a hot hit called Catan. Playing games lightens the mood, is easy on the patient who is not feeling quite well, is great for a change of pace, and puts everyone at ease in the uncomfortable setting of the hospital. My go to game to bring is Scrabble!
Nursing staff will not let you out of bed or walk around barefoot, in normal socks, in flips flops, or any unsafe footwear. They love closed-toed shoes and hospital grip socks, but I hate the scratchy, huge hospital socks and I find sneakers too cumbersome, especially in bed, so my favorite choice is fuzzy slipper socks with rubber grips on the bottom. These are such a great gift for anyone in the hospital, especially as there are so many fun patterns that can be selected to match the patient’s hobbies or delights. No such thing as too many fuzzy socks! I bring at least 3-4 pairs per hospital stay as they get dirty, can wear out, or even get lost if staff cleans the room and changes the bed.
A portable battery operated fan that wraps around a hospital bedrail is such a wonderful relief. It’s perfect for feverish periods, cooling off from exertion from therapies or treatments, helping with hot flashes or night sweats from medication side effects, or simply keeping air moving if you prefer a cooler room. I was so kindly gifted this lovely aqua fan, and I use it incessantly as I can clip it to my hospital bed or my wheelchair when out for a roll or taking Skipper outside to the hot and humid Carolina weather for a potty break.
Showering is unfortunately a rare occurrence in the hospital due to obstacles like machines hooked up, IV lines in place, surgical incisions, or poor mobility that causes safety concerns. Yet, staying clean and fresh is still important, so I use these body wipes that smell fresh and bright to “sponge bathe” in bed or in my wheelchair. They’re affordable, soft, well made, and work well to clean up the old birthday suit.
I have terrible back pain due to a spinal disease I have and sometimes get chilled. A large full back heating pad is such a relieving item. I often just keep it on my bed and turn it on when I wish to use it, then simply turn it off when I’m finished. It’s such a comforting item and you’ll be surprised how much you will use it!
I try to maintain some type of light fitness so I do not become so deconditioned that bouncing back from a hospital stay is too difficult. These easy grip 3lb dumbbells and my resistance bands for stretching really help with light workouts to keep muscles working. PT staff at any hospital should have resistance bands. Make sure you ask your doctor first if it’s okay that you use these though as you may have lifting or movement restrictions!
That about sums up my absolutely necessities for the hospital! I hope you have enjoyed this list, and can now be well prepared and stocked for any future hospital stay for yourself or a loved one.