How to pack for an overnight hospital stay


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Illness is not something I – or anybody else – particularly like to talk about. It’s painful and depressing and I would rather spend my time discussing more productive things. Unfortunately, however, there may come a time when you may have to spend the night in hospital following surgery. I found myself in this situation a few weeks ago and I know that when you’ve got big medical things on your mind, the last thing you want to be worrying about is what to take with you. I thought it may be helpful to keep this post bookmarked as a handy checklist in case you ever need to pack for an overnight hospital stay.

First of all, you should remember to always read the pamphlet the hospital will give you regarding your surgery, where they will detail what you are expected to bring with you and what they will be providing. Also, make sure you have a friend or relative to accompany you to the surgery and to help you get home after you have been discharged, as you may still be groggy from anaesthetic up to a couple of days after the procedure.

  • If you do not already have one, invest in a good overnight bag or suitcase so that you can pack in an emergency and do not find yourself stuffing everything into a plastic bag at the very last moment. Make sure it’s durable and can be wiped clean so you can disinfect it when you get back home (yes, I know hospitals are hygienic places, but still.)
  • Take with you all scans, test results, referral forms, insurance forms and consultation notes you may have which are relevant to your surgery, as well as any (filled in!) admission papers the hospital has asked you to complete.
  • Do not forget to take your insurance card and details if you are undergoing the procedure privately.
  • Pack two or three pairs of underwear depending on the length of your stay, as well as two bras and three pairs of socks.
  • Take clothes you can wear when you are discharged, which will not rub and chafe against your stitches.
  • A comfortable nightdress to sleep in, if you are lucky enough to be allowed to change out of those backless gowns you will invariably be asked to wear.
  • A dressing gown which is not too thick, which you can wear over your nightie. The hospital may well provide you with one of these, but you may feel more comfortable in your own.
  • A pair of slippers. Once you’re on your feet, the doctors and nurses will be insisting you do a hell of a lot of walking up and down corridors to prevent thrombosis, so you’ll need a good, comfortable pair with a non-slippery sole.
  • A book or two, depending on how long you are there for. Take something you will enjoy reading. The first time I had to have surgery I made the mistake of taking a D.H. Lawrence book with me. I hate D.H. Lawrence. I do not know what possessed me. Needless to say, I watched a lot of TV.
  • Your mobile phone and charger. You will need it to call or text family and friends to let them know everything’s gone smoothly.
  • Your laptop or tablet (especially if the hospital has wi-fi). Consider lining up some films to watch, and take headphones with you so as not to disturb other patients.
  • Any medication you regularly take, including contraception, blood thinners, painkillers, and hormone replacement pills, and so on. Make sure you let your carers know about all of these on admission so they can administer them to you.
  • A notebook and pen (because inspiration strikes in the strangest places).
  • Your washing bag, including a facecloth, soap, shampoo, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, sanitary pads and deodorant.
  • A small plastic bag to put laundry in.
1 Comment
  • Becky
    September 6, 2014

    Thank you for posting this. I am disabled and in and out of the hospital quite often. Most of the time I end up hospitalized and then have to have my mom or boyfriend run around my apartment and try to pack a bag for my hospital stay. Half the time they grab to much or not enough. This list is nice because it is one for those of us who are not having a baby. Thank you so much for posting this

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