Apologies for the deafening silence from the blog world. It’s been a tricky few weeks as my little Minx has had an extended and unplanned hospital stay. But I think I’m emerging from the coal face and ready to pounce with a shiny, sparkly new blogette…..I’ve felt this one brewing over the past days so hoping the words will flow rather than trickle.
This my lovelies is a little heads up, an insight into all things relevant should you find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to accompany your little ones into hospital for any period of time. Naturally, I hope this is NOT something you need to refer to but just like the trusty instruction tomes of what to pack in your hospital maternity bag or the comprehensive guides for dummies on almost any subject around, this *might* just prove to be invaluable. (Insert disclaimer: no liability is accepted by the writer for the inclusion or lack thereof of erroneous items in your own kit bag!)
Mobile Phone Charger
Self explanatory and obvious enough. Keep your phone charger in your handbag/back-pocket/man bag at all times. This will avoid you gazing pitifully at said phone with only 25% battery life when having turned up for what should have been a routine appointment, finding you and your diminutive one being sent along the corridor for more tests or worse still, on the receiving end of a hospital bed. Do not pass go, do not collect clean underwear or phone charger, nope, retreat immediately to safety of your room/cubicle to avoid coming into contact with hazardous small humans spreading their lurgies far and wide with hacking coughs and revolting sputum. Your best bet at this point is to admit defeat and use your remaining battery life to text someone from the OUTSIDE and ask them to bring in your all important stash of necessary’s.
Tin/Hard Hat, carabiners, rappel lines and crampons
If your lucky enough to have wi-fi in your hospital, these items are probably not a definite requirement. However, from personal experience I can pretty much guarantee that even if I am lucky enough to have wi-fi,* I will be in the room furthest away from the router thing and therefore have just enough of a signal to hear a bong when I get a notification but not be able to access anything on my device leaving me in frustration and pondering at the exciting events of the outside world – what is the latest situation in Syria, the lead in the political poles and who exactly has commented on my FB status?
Thus in an effort to maintain contact with humanity, or at least the world of tech, I am often to be found dangling precariously from the nearest window, contorting myself into weird and wonderful positions which look like a cross between Strictly Come Dancing and the Kama Sutra….Right a bit, up a bit, lean over the window-sill a bit…you get the idea. It hurts rather a lot when you find yourself face planting the floor, hopefully having used your own body weight to cushion the phone and saved its screen or little mechanical guts spewing on the floor. Perhaps added to the items previously mentioned should be a small emergency first aid kit. You may be in a hospital but the staff don’t tend to look too kindly (and frankly you will feel a bit silly asking) on you requesting bandages, tubie grip and elastoplasts for personal use.
* NB – if you are lucky enough and get given the holy grail of passwords to aforementioned internet, make sure you write it down somewhere. Hospital admin/medical personnel do not take kindly to being asked repeatedly “what’s the login/password again?!” They tend to be a bit busy…
Extension Plug Socket
In a hospital, bursting at the seams with tech, you need an extension cord? Well yes; these days, by the time you have plugged you cunningly remembered charger for the phone in, which has the battery life of a chocolate teapot filled with boiling water and you have waded your way through the 305567893000 messages/texts/e-mails/Facebook alerts and statuses, not to mention phone calls which help keep your sanity, then plugged your offsprings tablet/i-pad/gadget of choice into the remaining socket, you find the Docs and nurses get a little on the tetchy side when you unplug their things that go bong. Apparently, the sats monitor/blood pressure thingy etc take precedence over your need to communicate with the world around you. So an extension cord with multiple plug points will be your friend, probably even more so if you are female and want to at some point plug your hair straighteners in. Which brings me on nicely to my next useful piece of kit.
Have you been into a hospital room/cubicle recently? I hope for your sake and for those of your loved ones, the answers a no. But if you have, and I can safely say that this is a from wide experience of not just one but several hospitals, there will be no mirror anywhere useful in your immediate vicinity. I appreciate that all things considered when your little persons are poorly, the state of your hair is probably not of paramount importance first thing in the morning, or even last thing at night but in a bid not to frighten the medical professionals or your child more than you have to, I at least, appreciate being able to drag a brush through the wayward mop and even occasionally slick a bit of lip balm on. Hospital air – it’s very drying for the skin you know!
In my experience the only mirror that you can actually see more than your eye-ball in (I’ve tried squinting at the shiny taps but realised I just looked like something out of Edvard Munch’s The Scream) will be the one in the only available communal bathroom. Yes of course there are generally 2 toilets, even on a very small ward but you can pretty much guarantee that one will be out of order. So you don’t want to be taking up the only loo with pampering and preening when the rest of the parents are standing knock-kneed outside the bathroom door waiting to ablute.
It is a brave person and one with a deceptively false-sense of security or amazing self-worth who relies on the Hospital laundry services for this. Yes they have towels in abundance and YES they tend to be lovely and white and even quite fluffy for the NHS finest. BUT and let’s face it, it’s a very big but(t) (every pun intended) they are the size of a postage stamp and not designed to cover your modesty in any way shape or form.
If you are of the male variety, you may work on the principle that so long as your tackle is covered, you are not too fussed that you have seen towelling nappies bigger than the piece of cloth purporting to be a towel. But as the female of the species, you need to pick between covering your boobs or your nether regions – it’s a strictly either/or basis.
Of course if you happen to be especially sleep deprived, addled and not quite have your wits about you, you might go and have your shower late at night, feeling somewhat smug that you have escaped the ward for a teeny tiny period to have some precious “me” time.
You might even remember your wash kit, shampoo, conditioner and really pushing the boat out, your all over body moisturiser. Luxuriating in the semi-warmth of the shower and feeling really clean (baby wipes between washes just do not cut it) for the first time since you last managed to dive in to the facilities, you step out of the bath, onto the pile of paper hand towels you cunningly stacked on the floor pre-shower, grab your face-cloth-masquerading-as-towel and realise that you have left your PJ’s in your bedroom. At this point you could be faced with the dilemma of having to put back on your grimly discarded undies or wrestle with the blob of cotton and run down the corridor hoping against hope that you can get safely back into your cubicle before any one sees you.
I personally wouldn’t know anything about peering woefully around the bathroom door to check the coast is clear and then waddling, towel akimbo, as fast as my legs could carry me back to my room but not quite making it before 2 docs, a nurse and a teenage boy appear round the bottom of the corridor. No sirree, not me. (Harrogate Hospital, I’m really sorry, I know the psychiatry and CAMHS services are already over-stretched…)
I don’t think this needs much of an explanation really. You will want it, no matter what latest fad diet you are on and how good you have been to date. You will NEED it; probably at 2.27am when the nurses have done OBS for the umpteenth time that night (observations – pulse, temp, bp, oxygen saturation levels) and have made enough noise to wake the dead, possibly even switched the bedroom lights on if you are really lucky and left you wide awake gnawing on your own fist.
You might be able to sneak out to the parents kitchen (if the ward has one) or a kindly nurse might take pity on your nocturnal rustlings and make you a mug of tea, but frankly, it’s not the same without a bit of choccie. Bonus points if you scarf it in the middle of the night, you probably won’t have to share it with your child/visitors.
If you don’t have a kitchen you can access, you might have a hospital vending machine. It stands to reason that when you haven’t eaten properly all day (& maybe not even on the previous one) when you are totally sleep deprived and not of clearest mind, you will find your way to the vending machine, especially if you haven’t packed any choccie. That free-standing cabinet complete with DO NOT TILT/TIP sticker, Warning 24 hour surveillance signs, will be your mecca but ultimately your nemesis.
I’ll fess up here that I did actually shed a tear, when not having managed to consume anything remotely food like for nearly 20 hours, I fed the only cash I had, a precious £10 note, into the vending machine, excitedly pressing buttons to obtain the last limp egg and cress sandwich (why do they put garden plants in food?! Bleugh) and then watched it spit out my lucre unceremoniously. No comprende, no want it, no likey. Repeated attempts to coax the machine to drop the precious sandwich without causing actual bodily harm to it went unheard and muttering furiously, I retrieved my screwed up funds and decided to treat myself to a latte instead.
It was only at the point that I had fed 85p in silver coins to the blasted thing, that I realised I only had coppers left…and of course the machine didn’t take those. Expleting curse words that would have had a trucker blushing, I attempted to retrieve my coins only to find the vending goblin had swallowed them and flashed a blinky light at me tauntingly: 85p in credit….
At this point, I lost my cool and all sense of reason and for that matter, reasonable behaviour. So I bowled off down the corridor to throw myself on the mercy of the next person who came across my path. Wild of eye and hair (remember, there’s no mirror in a hospital room!) I found some poor unfortunate in hospital scrubs and accosted them gibbering furiously about thieving, evil machines and proffered a handful of sweaty, bronze coins in exchange for her precious 15 pieces of silver. Not surprisingly, she took fright and practically threw the money at me, muttering about care in the community having lost its way. I’d like to say that the latte was the best thing I had ever tasted after my endeavours but frankly, I’d be lying. Nonetheless, the sludge in my cup was so thick that I could at least fool my growling tummy into thinking it had consumed solid food.
I’m sure you have your own ideas of essentials and I’ve probably missed out some blindingly obvious items that leave you wondering about my credentials to write this article but in my eyes, my checklist constitutes the necessary yet the not obviously thought of. It may just give you food for thought too, although I hope you will not have to use it. But maybe you will be the good friend of someone who does have to and maybe, just maybe, when you wonder if there is anything you can do to help them, even when they have responded over-brightly with “No really, I’m fine!” you might recall some of these words I would loosely call wisdom and grab a “go-bag” on their behalf.
Until next time…. xx