This situation has probably not been planned and you will probably be running on adrenaline and shock. At this point the best thing you can do is to channel this into being practical.
Your loved one is being treated and they are most likely to be preoccupied with being unwell etc for the meanwhile. A strange thing happens in hospital, one begins to feel much better and from experience I can only think that this is the relief that you are in a place that is able to help. It’s much more relaxing to have heart failure in hospital rather than up a mountain!
Your loved one will be worrying about the kids, the cat, the bill that needs paying, the meeting they have today and there is no milk. These are all things you can sort to remove those anxieties. This really is the best thing you can do to help.
There is so much information out there on what you need to take into hospital when you have a baby but what do you need when you are in for something slightly more pressing!
Most surgeries etc will limit movement to some point so don’t go for over the head pj’s, button up is easier. Don’t take in anything to clingy though, those drugs can make one a little bloated or in my case like the Michelin man.
A pair of loose fluffy socks (snoozies) will become their best friend. It’s a myth that hospitals are always boiling hot. A reuseable coffee cup (keepcup.com) will make sure their cup of tea stays a little bit warm when they are whisked off for a scan just as the tea round comes. A good pair of headphones (well two actually) are also a godsend. In ear and overhead earphones are great for the TV and audiobooks. It may seem strange to suggest two pairs but trust me the patient may have new difficulties and fiddling with in ear phones is a nightmare when your hands do their own thing and overhead are jolly uncomfortable when you’ve just had brain surgery. My final godsend of a suggestion is Spanish cologne. This is a refreshing spritz (purespain.co.uk) which is amazing when you can’t get out of bed for a wash. It perks you up immensly.
It is also too easy in this situation to forget the basics. Yes, it is possible to pack 3 pairs of trackie bottoms and 3 pyjama tops of which none can be worn together 😉
So you’ve settled into hospital regime and your loved one has turned into a demanding toddler? Remember they don’t have a lot to do in hospital so if you say you will be there at 10, be there. If you are 15 minutes late that will seem like a lifetime to them. Please try not to forget anything as that thing may well have been their main focus for the last 24 hours and finally don’t complain about how tired /worn out your are. I can assure you that your patient will be consumed with worry for the incovience they cause their loved ones and would swap places with you in an instance.
Grapes anyone? As yummy as they are they generally just shrivel in hospital and get dusty (yuk!) so what do you take in?
If nausea is a problem fizzy sweets, ginger biscuits, salt and vinegar crisps and full fat coke are amazing. Maybe team this with some prepared fruit, some cordial and a homemade sandwich. There is nothing better than something that tastes like home.
To read? Magazines etc are great but reading may be difficult. In my experience I couldn’t read so audio books were fabulous and when I suffered with my vision a kindle was perfect as only having one page of text stopped the words being jumbled. How about an iTunes/Amazon voucher so they can buy themselves a film/ book etc? Be inventive, it works wonders. A very good friend of mine brought me in a bottle of tonic water, well I was home within a few days as couldn’t wait for a g&t. It’s amazing what motivates one when your not well.
Suggesting a new hobby (crochet was my saviour!), nice toiletries, updating an iPad (very few hospitals have wifi!), a McDonald’s or a vegan salad whichever floats their boat, a costa coffee, a good old chat with a friend and answering your phone when your loved one calls are all things that seem trivial but at this point in time focal points for your loved one.
Try to remember that this time is very stressful for all. Everyone is finding this difficult in their own way. Turn that frown upside down and get on with it because you have to. Losing is not an option.
I feel I have been through the mill with my fair share of hospital dramas, I have been left in a loo for half an hour, ( on more than one occasion) met some amazing people, had my mother suggesting to take a photo in the shower when I had my head shaved and a she wee catheter (attractive), been abandoned in a wheelchair on hospital corridors, had a Halloween party on the ward, met the best and worst nhs staff, tears and tantrums numerous times, amazing support from my family and friends, got divorced, been punctured with needles more times than I’ve had hot dinners, learnt to walk, misdiagnosis, lost my speech, came to realise that travelling in an ambulance is extremely uncomfortable, realised that you actually start to feel better when you become seriously ill, numerous stresses over eyebrow waxes and nails and just to top it all off none of this really matters as you still have to get on with it.
Do make sure you fill out a patient experience form. Do your bit to ensure consistency of care across the nhs and private sector.
How we laughed!