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Hospital Stays

What do I pack for a hospital stay?


My hospital stay was pre-COVID (and my whole family and lots of friends were desperate to do something) so I had a lot of people shuttling me everything I could have wanted and more.


But, most people don’t have the wonderful problem of people spilling out of the waiting room, not working, a mom coordinating visiting shifts.


So! I have some ideas for what you should pack before heading to the hospital for a short stay (like for surgery, for example).


  1. Definitely pack your phone and a LONG charger (otherwise a poor nurse is going to be plugging and unplugging your phone for you constantly)

  2. Hospitals are cold and uncomfortable! Pack a blanket if possible or warm socks/slippers. Some people like to bring a pillow (I’m not a pillow person, hospital pillows are fine in my experience)

  3. Pack loose button up shirts that you don’t need to pull on over your head! Robes also work, as do zip-up hoodies. Remember, you will have IVs in your arms, limited mobility, and staples in your head. Don’t pack a turtleneck to wear when you leave the hospital.

  4. The hospital will sponge bathe you and provide some wipes, but you might want to bring some of your own.

  5. Some people I know got bored in the hospital and will say to bring books, a laptop for work, an iPad for games. I would tell you that all of this is a waste of space and that you won’t be able to read or focus on anything so this one is up to you!

  6. Some sort of noise blocking headphones or ear plugs. Hospitals are LOUD. Maybe a snazzy eye mask to block out light if you are hoping to catch some zzzz’s.

  7. Snacks! You will probably be on steroids. You will probably be tired of hospital food. If you can have visitors, have them bring nice beverages, cut up fruit, yogurt. For some reason, you will be thirsty. If you are a tea drinker, stash a few of your favorite teas in your bag.

  8. If you have long hair, think about how to secure it away from the incision. Bring a clip to hold it out of the way or be prepared to braid it. You might not want to brush it and it will be matted.

  9. Consider a folder to keep all of your release documents and a pen and notebook to take notes or jot down questions you think of at 4 am (but will forget before the doctor arrives at 10)


TLDR: you will be uncomfortable. What brings you comfort? You don’t need a lot of clothes, you don’t need makeup, you will feel dirty, you will be sleeping in weird positions, cut your nails before you go to the hospital.


Don’t take too much! Keep it simple stupid. Whatever you take, you will need to take home.


Part 2: your friend is in the hospital. What should you bring them?

  1. See Part 1

  2. Again, everything you take to the hospital will need to go home with them(cards are good, or photos of the food you are bringing to their house on Monday)

  3. Fresh flowers are not allowed in the ICU, but are welcome in post surgery areas

  4. What brings them comfort or joy? What are they asking you to bring? I asked my oldest sister to bring me tweezers so I could pluck the chin hair that had appeared out of nowhere and was driving me crazy.

  5. Remember your friend is in this for life. Of course be available, show love and support, show up! But don’t overburden them with teddy bears at the hospital and then disappear. Clean out the fridge at their apartment, come up with a meal train, find one person to be the point person for different areas: the person who helps by walking the dog, the person who communicates/coordinates with all the coworkers, the family member who fields family calls, the neighborhood spokesperson… Recovering from brain surgery is tough and the person may need space and quiet. Be there but don’t hang around or expect much in return. Know that every ounce of energy you spend is appreciated x1000.


Any other suggestions?


Take care out there!

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