How to Prepare for a Week in Hospital

Dr Allan Hamilton, neurosurgeon and author of The Scalpel and the Soul, asserts that patients who maintain a sense of who they are fare better in hospital than those who do not. Making your hospital room into a piece of your own world helps to promote feelings of security and wellbeing. More importantly it helps the medical staff to connect with you as an individual rather than as just another inmate in a blue patterned surgical gown.

Here are some suggestions. 

What to pack:

  • Any medicines you are currently taking (show these to the admitting nurse when you arrive)
  • Glasses or contact lenses
  • Blu-Tack (to stick up all your cards)
  • Organic room spray (to counter the smell of sanitising gel)
  • Moisturiser, lip balm, body lotion, hand cream and rose water in a spray bottle (you will need a lot of moisturising and hydration. The rooms tend to be artificially heated or air conditioned and full of machinery, making the atmosphere very arid. A tip – put a saucer of water on the radiator to stop your skin drying out too much.)
  • Lipstick (to cheer your face up)
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • A hairbrush
  • Cashmere bed socks (to keep your feet warm)
  • Mobile phone & charger (hospitals generally charge rip-off prices for phone calls)
  • Eye mask Earplugs (it is always noisy and the nurses come in and out all night and all day)
  • A light robe
  • A cotton nightie cut up the back (this will save you the horror of having to wear a hideous hospital gown. Buy a large size cotton nightie, cut it up the back and attach some long ribbons that tie at the front to draw the open flaps together so that your bum doesn’t hang out.)
  • A t-shirt and a pair of shorts
  • Slippers
  • A pashmina
  • A snuggly pillow (the hospital pillows are lined with plastic)
  • A photo of the people you love
  • IPod loaded with happy music, relaxing music, guided meditations and audio books
  • A portable computer (check if the hospital charge for internet access – this can also be a bit of a racket. If they do, it might be worth investing in a dongle from your mobile phone provider.)
  • Notebook and pen
  • Camera (you may think that this is one nightmare that you just want to forget but, sometime in the future, you may be glad that you kept a record of this time.)
  • Nice teabags, soya milk or a pint of organic milk.
  • A clock
  • A small amount of cash to buy newspapers and sweets.
  • Your health insurance details
  • A pair of ridiculously high-heeled shoes (put them by the bed to remind you that it won’t always be like this.)

What to ask your friends and family to do:

  • Everyone will bring flowers – there will never be enough vases, so ask them to bring vases too.
  • You will be bombarded with chocolate and will soon feel sick. Ask friends to bring organic grapes and berries.
  • Make you fresh juices and salads
  • Bring mineral water in glass bottles
  • Coordinate a visiting roster
  • Read aloud to you
  • Stick your cards up on the walls
  • Rub your feet
  • Be available to take you home when you are discharged

What not to take to the hospital:

  • Tight, revealing or synthetic nightwear
  • Jewellery
  • Credit cards
  • Cigarettes

Do you have a top hospital tip? Please share it with the world.


4 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a Week in Hospital

  1. Love the idea about the high heeled shoes. I took two pairs of slippers. One normal pair, the other totally appropriate that I kept under the bed just to look at!
    I asked friends to bring in bags of ice, it helped to keep drinks cooler for longer.

  2. Amazing timing! I was just talking today about a list for my imminent month long hospital stay, I had got as far as new slippers and thirty pairs of brand new knickers 🙂 New knickers are always such a joy to put on I think I deserve some every day! Also on my list are some comfy yoga pants, vest tops and soft cardigans, I will be lounge wear queen; poorly yet stylish- but everything has to be brand new so it all feels like a bit of a treat. Will definitely take plenty of nail varnish to give my visitors something to do ie daily manicures and pedicures.

  3. A month?! Jeez Louise that is an awfully long confinement. Here are a few more specific suggestions (if you want them):
    Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil is extremely nourishing and moisturising for the face. Pai also do some lovely organic floral face spays.
    Neal’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm is lovely to dab on your face and hands throughout the day – I find the smell of it very uplifting.
    Me & Em do lovely luxury loungewear and Zara Home does uber-stylish pyjamas, robes and slippers, at a more reasonable price.
    Do take nail varnish remover as well (Priti NYC do a soya based one with no acetone). The nurses are certain to command you to remove your gorgeous nail paint. They seem to think it’s important to be able to check that you haven’t turned blue in the night.

    And please be sure to use your time productively by writing another wonderful piece for us all to read on the Chemo Chic Project.

    I really do hope that your stay in hospital is not too ghastly. Sending you my very best wishes.

    p.s. you can get a 10% discount on natural beauty products at Use the code CHIC at the checkout.

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