Like many people with Cystic Fibrosis, I have spent a lot of time in the hospital. To be exact, I have had 27 different inpatient hospitalizations that lasted more than one day/night, and with each one, I learned something new about how to make my stay a bit more comfortable.
10. A blanket from home. It’s more of a comfort thing since I don’t like to pile on blankets because I sweat easily, but I can put it over my shoulders when doing a Vest or breathing treatment, and cover myself on my wheelchair or gurney when I’m being wheeled to and from tests, procedures or surgeries. I get lots of comments on this one:
9. Refillable water bottle. I like to fill it with ice and water, instead of little paper cups that spill, don’t hold much, and cause more trash.
8. A stuffed animal. Yes, really!
- When having a painful or uncomfortable procedure, it helps to hug or squeeze something to divert your attention to something else.
- Sometimes an IV or PICC-line is placed in an awkward place, and I can position this fluffy, stuffed Black Lab in a way that allows me to rest my arm comfortably.
- Better than a hospital pillow!
During my last hospitalization, the nurse manager was so impressed with how much my stuffed dog helped, that she actually ordered a bunch of them from the company website to use on her floor for adult patients.
7. Favorite foods and beverages. Every hospital I have stayed in had a refrigerator for patient use. Many people with CF need to eat more frequently and a higher volume of foods due to malabsorption issues. I am a picky eater due to my various GI issues, so I make sure to stock up on my favorites.
6. A laptop or smartphone. Because the bugs my lungs carry can be contagious to other people with CF or compromised immune systems, I am not allowed to roam the halls freely, and therefore spend most of my time in my room. It gets pretty lonely and boring when you’re there for weeks. If I’m really really sick, I don’t get online much, but if I’m “stable”, I check email and Facebook, watch movies and television shows via sites like Hulu, and record video updates to upload to Youtube.
Years ago, when I still worked at a prominent internet company, I would dial in to work via a modem and the hospital phone. Now, most hospitals have free wi-fi, which not only allows me to connect to the outside world, but also allows my husband to work while at my bedside. Just make sure that you keep these items in a safe place (often, hospital rooms have safes, or you can use a laptop lock) when not in use.
5. A paper notebook in which to write down EVERYTHING that every doctor says. Not only might different doctors tell you different things, you also might want to note any and all tests and their results, medication changes and dosages, and treatment plan(s).
4. Tunes! As Don McLean asked, “Can music save your mortal soul?” Absolutely! I find music especially helpful prior to surgery or during a lengthy test. I once had a surgeon who played Billy Joel while the nurses prepped me for surgery!
3. Flips flops. I don’t care how much hospitals disinfect bathrooms, because a shower is a place where people wash off the grime. I don’t want to go into the hospital to get better only to come home with some nasty foot fungus, so I always shower in my flip-flops.
2. Simple luxuries like scented body wash and lotion. I am allergic to a lot of brands and fragrances, but I have found several Bath & Body Works flavors that don’t trigger reactions. For hospital stays, I use the 3 oz. travel size bottles pictured below and just refill them when they get low.
1. Photos! Whether in a picture frame or stored on your smartphone, photos of loved ones and favorite memories can help lift your spirits. It can get pretty lonely rather quickly in the hospital, and revisiting moments that bring you joy can get you through tougher moments.
So what makes your hospital stays more bearable? Share your thoughts below!