Packing for hospital…

That this is where I’ll wind up, because of legs or lungs, is looking increasingly inevitable, so I’ve just bought a load more nightwear for hospital – thank whatever gods there might be for Matalan – M&S would have bankrupted me!

As there’s no-one to keep me resupplied with clean clothes I have to take enough for two months (based on my previous 6-week incarceration – tip: Wet wipes go a long way towards keeping PJ bottoms serviceable.)

I know the hospital can supply PJs, but I need PJs with shorts because of my Lymphoedema – my legs might leak all over PJ trousers. And in my experience the trousers never have the correct size waist – either hopelessly loose or painfully tight. On the plus side, if they send you home in them, they don’t want them back.

I’ve worked out a way to carry a loaded holdall on my manual wheelchair without it affecting me overmuch. The chair will take most of the burden; there’ll be some weight on my feet, but I can deal with that as long as it’s soft, so careful packing needed. The bag is a 65-litre Gelert Expedition duffel – more than big enough for two months worth of kit, and it’s secured to the chair with a pair if 120cm climbers’ slings. My chair is a Quickie Life folder, yours might need shorter or longer slings. Length is shortened simply by knotting the sling and, as you can see, they will cross in front of me so they don’t obstruct the wheels

Chair and bag

All pics – click to view full size, Back button to return.

This is what the bag looks like unscrunched! It comes with rucksack-style shoulder straps, which I’ve removed.


On the seat back is a netbook bag, which is the perfect size to fit between the uprights, plus a small spotting scope holder which is now pressed into service to carry a folding walking stick. That’s secured with a bootlace. The netbook bags sling is fastened to the mini push handles with cable ties, any sharp edges left after trimming the ties can be carefully melted smooth with a lighter flame. Should you be an idiot, and set fire to your chair, that’s entirely your problem. Just so we’re clear 😉

Chair back

The bag will take back-up meds to compensate for the staggering laxity in drug delivery at APH, and if they don’t like it they can go screw themselves. I also have some drugs which I need to have at my fingertips, not waste hours trying to find a doctor in the middle of the night to authorise them. It’ll also hold anything else that has to be with me at all times, like valuables, money, and electronics.

Somehow, over the years, my Serevent and Becloforte (now Clenil Modulite), have been diminished by my fucking GP, who never tires of interfering with my meds, from two puffs 4 times a day, to twice a day. OK, I almost never go for the full hit, which leaves me scope for when I need to, so those inhalers stay in my possession. There will also be analgesics and Phyllocontin, neither of which have been reliably supplied in the past.

Finally, on the seat back, I have a Hydrant drinking system. This is just a 1-litre bottle, with a handle that secures it to the seat back (or the head of a bed), and a hose with a bite-valve which enables the occupant to drink from it (I’ll be changing the bite valve for a Camelbak Ergo Hydrolock – I hate bite valves!). This is essential, as once we’ve exhausted the bedside jug of water we’re expected to refill it ourselves** – impossible with a manual wheelchair – not enough hands! Refilling the bottle, though, is easy.


This is the Hydrolock. Just push the yellow button and suck.


**We could try to summon a member of the nursing staff to refill the water, but based on how long they take to respond to the call button – the record is over 2 hours! – that could be an exercise in futility. The best way is to snag them where they’re there doing something else, with a “When you’ve done that can I have…” intervention, before they vanish again.

You know, the old open ward was much better than the bay system, as staff could take in the whole ward at a glance and see what was needed, and the call buttons were linked to the individual beds, not just the entire bay as now.

Bear in mind that if you take diuretics, you can get seriously dehydrated. It sounds counter-intuitive, but you need to drink more than you pee to stay safely hydrated, and the Hydrant comes with a useful colour chart for checking your pee against – I, apparently, am seriously dehydrated right now.

That’s a natural reaction to diuretics, as the more you drink the more you pee and, if you’re in hospital, it can get wearing trekking to the toilet every half hour or so as, inevitably, there are too few toilets for the number of patients. Even at home, repeated peeing is a strain on bad days, and I’ve been known to use the “potty” from my bedroom commode (which, as it turned out, I don’t otherwise need), in the living-room, to avoid the 6-yard expedition to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes!

Back to packing, though, and in addition to PJs, a dressing gown, a supply of Bovril, toiletries (including Anusol cream, Savlon, and steroid cream as those little annoyances that plague me at home will be going into hospital with me, especially stress-induced eczema, for which the steroid cream is invaluable!), two Kindles, a tablet computer (torn between my Fire HD and iPad 3 at the moment, with the latter having the better battery life but the former being more discreet), and a smartphone are in there too, plus a Petzl head torch for after lights-out, as I don’t normally get to sleep until about 02.00. That’s also why one of my Kindles is the new Paperwhite, though if that doesn’t come in time I have my original Paperwhite, and my old K3 for daytime use as it has excellent battery life which the Paperwhites, because of their built-in light – which is excellent by the way – don’t have.

I was also thinking of taking a 2-litre bottle of Vimto but, if I’m in a long time it’ll be quickly used up, so not much point.

And that, unless anything else occurs to me, is that.

Update: Forgot to include links for the various bits – here they are:-

Gelert 65L Expedition duffle

Hydrant System


Climbers’ slings

You can also get the slings from Field & Trek – use the Hydrolock link to go there. Ditto for the carabiners I used to attach the slings to the bag and conveniently forgot to mention.


13 thoughts on “Packing for hospital…

  1. I don’t know if it would help or not, but what about wearing your underpants underneath you pj’s? I think it would help keeping your pj’s fresher/cleaner for longer.

    If that’s not an option, you might not need to change your pj tops as often as the shorts, so it might be that you don’t need to take as many tops with you, although I can understand wanting a frequent change into totally fresh pj’s.

    • Yep – that’s the plan, though I might need to buy more – depends how long I think I can make a pair last in hospital. I was looking to buy extra bottoms but Matalan don’t sell the shorts separately, only PJ trousers. But a full set, with shorts, is only £9 so I’ve bought more. In two sizes, as my weight can fluctuate in hospital. Got another dressing gown, too, so I can leave one packed.

  2. I know it’s a bloody pain packing for hospital, but don’t forget to have a lot of change for the newspapers, sweeties and suchlike.
    I’d take the bottle of Vimto as those who bring around the papers, tissues etc will always put a bottle on for you if you need it, although it might be Ribena or something similar.
    Get a little cosy with another patient and see if their wife/family/friends would kindly bring you a bottle or two of vimto on their next visit and give them the money up front 🙂
    Make sure you take extra batteries for your electronics if it is possible. I know that charging is a problem but I used to keep my phone on charge overnight for a few hours, then change it to my kindle for a few hours and so on and so forth!
    There are bound to be things that you will remember in the coming days so write them down when you think of them. Also, take a pen/s and pad as it’s great for jotting things down and it’s not always possible to get to one of your tablets/phones at the time. I also took a pack of cards with me as there were times that I didn’t want to read and didn’t want to go online, and these helped keep me sane 🙂
    At least you are organised Ron, and that’s the first step 🙂
    Jay x

    • In hospital, as at home, I read the papers online – free. Newspaper deliveries were erratic in April, with none at all at weekends (the only paper I’d willingly buy is the Observer, and maybe Saturday’s Guardian (loads to read in both). Though as the trade is mainly Daily mail and Sun, I’m not confident of getting either, even if there were deliveries.

      It’s weird – I never saw anyone buy anything except tabloids – it’s as if they kept quality newspaper readers in a separate building! I think if I’d asked for a Guardian, the paper-woman would have had a stroke.

      I don’t eat sweets, so that’s not a problem. Don’t need batteries, but I do have a very long USB extension lead as last time I could barely reach the socket, and luckily all my gadgets use Micro USB for charging, which makes life easier, as does the fact that they can all, except my Kindle Fire, use the same charger. If I need a break from reading, I’ve got games on my Fire and phone (loads of Angry Birds, mostly but I can add more easily enough!), so that’s covered.

      I’m pretty much done with organising. Every night at bedtime I put my Kindle along with the rest of my electronics, (except my phone which is by the bed and will have to be grabbed at the last minute if I take bad overnight), and my wallet and cash in a small satchel that I can keep with me at all times in the hospital (theft is a big problem apparently). And that, along with clothes and toiletries, plus all the other odds and sods, goes into the holdall.

      Really, there’s only four groups – clothing, electronics, toiletries, and odds and sods – and they’re all sorted. I’ve been at this for weeks – the problem was until now I didn’t have a bag big enough to hold everything. Much easier now.


  3. Brilliant Ron. You have thought through every single aspect of being in there and have made sure it’s covered. I really hope it’s going to be better than last time because if it’s not….
    What about a new blog section ‘Style on a budget’ – those new outfits sound very fetching.
    It’s ironic because advice and reminders is the last thing you need (so I won’t give it) and practical assistance is the very thing I would prefer to supply and cannot.

    • Well, so far this year I’ve had eight week’s practise, the last one with absolutely nothing – no clothes, no glasses, or teeth, and worst of all, no electronics. Hell, not even a pen and paper! And I swore that will never happen again!

      I appreciate the thought, but I’m done now – all I need is a crisis to make it all worth while!

      Er – joke . . .

  4. The only thing left is to let us have the address of the hospital – then those who wish can always send you any items you run out of (I’m up for this).

    Good Luck with the staff & don’t forget the updates – All Best love xxx

    • Ooh – that’s a thought.** I’ll do that as soon as I know – which hospital depends on whether the admission is elective or emergency (and, of course, what for – there’s a lot of choice these days!).

      And, yes, I shall be tweeting, and blogging (I’ve bought a Bluetooth keyboard to make it easier), and this time they won’t stop me.

      The rules are simple, APH – don’t fuck up and you won’t find yourselves on Twitter or in my blog! Although excellence will be praised – it was in April, there just wasn’t much of it and your paranoia blinded you to it!

      **As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I tend to be too independent, and asking for help would never even occur to me, so I really do appreciate the offer – thank you.


      • Thanks, Tricia, actually got one on order for home. Might be worth tossing it in my bag, that way I’ll be sure of one socket I can use – the bed socket – with that as a pass-through the bed will still work.

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