Hospital stays are often part of life for the parent of a child with a chronic illness or disability. Sometimes the stays are short. Other times hospital stays stretch into weeks…or longer.
Parents know that it’s not just our child who is hospitalized. We are there with our kids twenty-four hours a day, awake for vitals, awakened by the beeps of the machines, going down the hall for x-rays or therapies. Our children need us there, and that’s where we are.
With a little forethought and purpose, we can have a smoother, easier hospital stay with our child.
Pack the essentials.
Comfortable clothes. Cotton knits are a great choice for days spent sitting around in the hospital room. Remember that sometimes the room is cold so bring a jacket, even in the summer. But the room is sometimes hot so think layers.
Undergarments and modest pajamas. Keep in mind that doctors and nurses, male and female, come in at all times of the day and night. Also, it’s not unheard of for a parent to have to take a trip down the hall or out to the nurse’s station in the night.
Toiletries. Deodorant. Toothbrush and toothpaste. Hair brush and gel. Ponytail holders and headbands for quick and easy hairdos. Shampoo and soap. Razor. Nurses can usually provide a parent with many of these essentials, but we all prefer to have our own.
Lotion and lip balm. Hospital rooms are often very drying.
A pad of paper and a pen. There are lists to be made for communicating to those back at home. It’s also a convenient place to jot down questions or notes for the doctor and nurse.
Phone chargers and tablets or laptop. There are a lot of hours in the day. And a hospital room is not the best place for getting a lot of sleep. You’ll want to be able to stay in contact with the outside world. Also bring along books, magazines, or adult coloring books to fill your time.
Snacks. Eating at the cafeteria gets expensive. And the cafeteria isn’t open all night. It might be closed when you get hungry. A bag of snacks will help feed you when you’re hungry and save some money. Cereal bars, fruit, nuts, water bottles, gum, and other treats are easy ideas that will hit the spot. Also microwave meals can usually be stored and heated up in the parent lounge found on most hospital floors.
Cash and/or gift cards. You never know when you might get a minute to run down and grab something from the snack machine or the gift shop or cafeteria. Having money will make it possible. Even gift cards for nearby restaurants are helpful.
Keep in mind that friends may ask what you need. Don’t hesitate to suggest that they bring you some of the above items.
Learn from a mom about the emotions of having to start a young child on medication.
Palliative care is about making the most out of life while supporting complex patients and their family. I am so glad we found them.