Living with Burkitt's

One family's experience with Burkitt's Lymphoma

Tips for packing for a hospital stay

on December 26, 2012
Christmas morning

Christmas morning

We hope that your Christmas was merry and bright. Ours was wonderful. We had to put both of our children back to bed more than once through the night before Christmas. They were too excited for the day to come. We opened our gifts early and saw family from both sides throughout the day. Andrew appears none the worse for wear after our two family gatherings. We hope that the psychological benefits of spending a traditional Christmas with family will keep all of our spirits a bit higher in the coming weeks.

We are checking back into Primary Children’s Medical Center tomorrow. The first couple of times we went to the hospital, we had little warning, so I grabbed the basics for an overnight stay and collected the rest as we went along. Fortunately, we live near PCMC, so that system works well enough. With experience and time to plan, here is what I am taking to the hospital this time.

For the patient:

  • Loose, comfortable clothing and shoes to wear to and from the hospital.
  • His own pajamas, if desired.
  • Basic hygiene items. The hospital will have most things on hand for the patient, if you forget something or just want to use theirs.
  • Comforting items, such as a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. TIP: Write your name and number in permanent marker on any personal blankets. We lost two cute little quilts to the hospital laundry during our last stay.
  • A few favorite DVDs, books or toys. You don’t need many.

For the parent:

  • Your most presentable “sweats” for sleeping – You’ll have NO privacy at the hospital, and you never know what is going to happen. Nurses check in around the clock. I was awakened by our doctors’ early morning rounds more than once. Mornings at the hospital can be busy, so you could be wearing those clothes well into the day. If an emergency occurs, who knows how long it will be until you get a chance to change? Ladies, pack a soft sports bra for overnight use.
  • Change of clothing and underwear – How many changes you need depends on how long you expect to stay and how near you live to the hospital. We lived at the hospital for three weeks before I finally packed more than one set at a time. Complementary family laundry facilities are available at Primary Children’s Medical Center. Don’t be afraid to pack your best casual clothing, as long as it is comfortable and washable. You will be making important decisions and dealing with professionals. When you look put together, you’ll feel put together.
  • Hygiene supplies – For me, the basics are toothpaste, toothbrush, cleansing wipes for my face, moisturizer and deodorant. After the first day or two, I added shampoo, conditioner, tinted moisturizer, mascara, gel, hair spray and lotion. My travel sized versions were perfect. As the weeks wore on, a curling iron and additional make-up were added to the bag. I didn’t use it all every day, but it was nice to have the option.
  • Electronics and reading material – I plan to dedicate an entire post to the whole new level of love I feel for my smart phone, laptop computer, and e-reader since our long hospital stay. For now, I’ll just say that if you have them, bring them. Don’t forget the chargers. If you are religious, bring your scriptures. Even if you don’t read the scriptures regularly at home, you may want the comfort that can be found in their pages at the hospital. Consider a journal as well.
  • Stationery – I have been writing “Thank you” cards as I felt able for weeks and I still have dozens to write. We have so many good people to be thankful to and for. The hospital has boxes for outgoing mail, so I will attempt to write at least a few more cards while we are in the hospital this week. If I owe you one, it’s coming!

thank you cards

When I think about returning to the hospital, my heart feels heavy. It brings back memories of too many difficult weeks. Also, we worry about chemotherapy. Even if it cures Andrew of cancer, he could face a lifetime of consequences from the treatment. It is difficult to go forward, but we can’t go back either. We will keep praying for strength and healing. We are continually grateful to so many of you who join your prayers with ours and help sustain us in other ways.

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