No one really likes to stay in the hospital, especially for more than a day or two. Many hospital stays are planned, for things like childbirth and elective surgeries. But the great majority of hospital stays are unplanned, and can leave you feeling scattered and anxious. However, there are some things you can do to prep for a hospital stay that will help you feel a little more in control of the situation and ease the stress, rather than add to it. Here are some practical ways you can prep for a hospital stay:
First, take care of the things you know that you can deal with ahead of time. If you know your stay will last several days, make arrangements for someone to care for pets and pick up your mail (especially if you live alone, or other family will be staying with you at the hospital). Check your fridge and produce bin for any food that will spoil while you are in-patient, and toss it or give it away. Water any plants inside. Get all your laundry caught up and put fresh sheets on your bed, so you’ll come home to clean ones. Pay any bills that will come due during or immediately after your stay, or make arrangements for someone to do that for you.
If you have kids, you’ll need to make arrangements for their care, both while you are hospitalized and for a bit after your return home while you recover. Depending on their ages and abilities, you may need both daytime and nighttime caregivers, as well as arranging how they will get to and from school and other activities.
Pack things that will be of help and comfort to you during your stay. Many people prefer to take their own pajamas and pillow to use, rather than use the ones provided by the hospital. Take your own toiletries, and don’t forget the lip balm and hand cream. If you enjoy reading, bring along a couple of books or your e-reader, or some magazines. You won’t be allowed to use your own medications, but do provide a list of all the prescriptions you are currently taking, as well as any allergies. If you are unexpectedly admitted, make sure someone else has a copy of this list or access to it to give to the medical staff. There are actually apps for your cell phone where you can store this information. Another thing is to consider having plenty of change and cash on hand for the hospital cafeteria and vending machines. They may not take a debit card, so you want to be prepared.
While you are a hospital patient, try to rest as much as you possibly can. It can be difficult, but the more rest you get while there will help with your recovery at home. Limit your visitors if you want to, or have certain times when you will allow them. This is especially important if you have had a contagious illness or a major surgery.
Another thing to be aware of is practicing good hygiene while in the hospital. Have all of your medical staff and any visitors wash hands or use hand sanitizer when entering and leaving your room. Don’t be afraid to ask them to do so!
If your stay gets extended beyond what you originally thought, go back over the things listed above and see if you need to adjust the arrangements for help or bring on additional people to help. A rotating schedule will help to ease your anxiety and placing too much on a couple of people, especially if it is a lengthy stay. The same could be worked out for when you get home, too. If you will have a long recovery period, consider setting up a help schedule for things like meals and cleaning or trips to the doctor.
You can definitely plan ahead to ease the stress of a hospital visit. It may not be the most pleasant thing in the world, but making all the preparations you can ahead of time will make it somewhat easier to bear.