Considering how much time my family spends in the Royal Free (such a shame you can’t get frequent flyer miles on the NHS), I should have known better than to turn up at A&E last week with just my laptop, a book and a bag of snacks from M&S (conveniently next door to the hospital).
Seven hours later I had eaten all my snacks, finished Grazia, & Private Eye, written 2000 words before my battery died, and was steaming towards the final chapter of the slab-like Marian Keyes I had grabbed from lil’sis’s shelf on the way out the door.
What I should have done was brought a little overnight bag just in case. Thing is, I was playing that stupid game –the ‘if I don’t come prepared then I’m not really ill & they won’t need to admit me’ game. Hah. More fool me.
Anyway, they did admit me, and lil’sis brought me a bag of stuff for my stay on a glam NHS ward.
First off you need at least 2 x nightwear. Most practical are PJs, but I get too hot on the ward, so I bring a nightshirt. Shirt not nightie. There aren’t enough hot doctors about to justify flashing your chest at the rest of the long-suffering ward each time you wriggle about in bed. And you need a change because you will spill food down your front at some point if you take three meals a day in bed. (Or is that just me?)
Clean underwear. Lots of it.
Flips flops not slippers. You aren’t going anywhere except the bathroom, and hospitals are germ ridden places. You don’t want your pretty slippers harbouring all manner of nasties. And you can shower in flip flops – if you are being treated on the NHS, then you will be on a ward and sharing a bathroom.
A shawl is great for wrapping around your shoulders if you get cold at night, it hides your modesty if you have visitors, and I also use it as a top blanket to cheer up my NHS regulation linen.
More reading matter then you could possibly need. You will read it all. And more.
HeadphonesThey are supplied but, as on a plane, it’s much nicer to have your own to use the TV bedside TV sets. Noise cancelling ones are the way forward because you’ll be desperate to drown out the conversation around you, which goes on 24/7.
Washbag with whatever you usually use. Most important: toothbrush & hairbrush.
Heavy duty moisturiser: it’s always too hot on the wards and your skin dries out.
Lots of snacks: they feed you at really odd times, the food is often revolting and they always run out of the one edible-sounding dish. And when you are ill, food becomes very important psychologically.
Phone charger: it costs a fortune to use the bedside ward phones, and no one seems to mind you using a cell these days
A pen for filling in your lunch forms and doing the crossword
Small amount of cash to buy TV cards, newspapers from the trolley etc
And that’s it. Anything else is a bonus. (iPod, laptop, notepad, nice things to drink. More snacks.)