8 Things to Pack for an Extended Hospital Stay

After my 3-week hospital stay turned into almost 17 weeks, I discovered several must-have items for an extended stay as an inpatient at a hospital or rehab facility. Below is a list of my top 8 recommended items.

1. Medication

This may seem unnecessary since you have submitted a list of medications multiples times, but I discovered the hospital didn’t have the exact version of my medication. When a generic medication I was given wasn’t working sufficiently, I requested that they give me my own prescription. They took my own medication bottles, put a bar code on it and administered it as needed.

2. Personal care items

Whether it’s your favorite soap, lip balm or lotion, bring your own items, especially if you have sensitive skin. With hospital air being so dry, lip balm and lotion can make you feel more comfortable in your own skin (or maintain the integrity of your skin).

3. Entertainment

The hours in a hospital room creep by slowly. Whether it’s a hobby, tablet, playing cards, Kindle or computer, have something to keep yourself entertained. When my brain was too foggy from meds to read, I indulged in episodes of Poldark, Dr. Thorne, Cable Girls and others each evening on my computer. An artist friend visited and gave me painting lessons. My mom stayed busy by hand sewing two quilts while she kept me company. If you bring electronics, be cautious with their placement and have long cords to reach outlets. To recharge my phone, I brought my 10-foot USB cord for easy access to my phone while I was in bed.

4. Scarf or small blanket

Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Thermostats in hospital rooms aren’t the best at maintaining temperatures. And if you have a fever or medication is making you run hot or cold, simply putting on an extra layer of clothing doesn’t work with an IV or PICC line. My scarf easily draped over my arms and shoulders, keeping me comfortably warm.

5. Pillow

Hospital pillows leave much to be desired. Don’t worry about what others think; look ridiculous and bring a large suitcase. You’ll be comfortable in bed, while everyone else has a crick in their neck.

6. Catheters (or other specialty medical supplies)

If you use intermittent catheters, do not assume the hospital will provide them. I use Bard Touchless Plus Intermittent catheters so I can independently cath, even in bed. I had to argue with my DME provider who refused to send my monthly supply stating the hospital would provide them, but I finally got the catheters. If you’ll be on IV fluids, you may need to “go” much more frequently, so plan accordingly.

7. Inflatable hair washer

I can tolerate going without a shower. But my hair has to be clean. I have an inflatable hair washer like this one that is easy to use in bed. It has a drainage tube that empties into a trash can. The hospital ice/water canisters are perfect for wetting and rinsing hair.


8. Please and thank yous

I cannot fathom working a 12 ½ hour shift with only a 30 minute break. Try to remember your nurse and nursing assistant have several other patients and can’t be everywhere at once. Show your appreciation by saying please and thank you.

Nobody wants to be in the hospital. But with a little forethought, a few comfort items can make the stay more bearable.

What items do you bring to the hospital?

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