Preparation is key, and whilst I don't have a bag continuously packed and waiting at the front door like I did in the bad old days when emergencies occurred at least once a week, things like a travel size toiletry bag and up to date prescription information can be prepared and ready to grab at a moment’s notice.
1. Medical notes including up to date prescription information.
You don't need the whole back story - no one needs birth details (unless it's relevant) and the like. Simply photocopy a recent hospital letter or make your own bullet pointed list on a sheet of A4. Both the ambulance crew and admission team at the hospital will want this information from you. It's much easier to hand them a pre-prepared sheet of paper than to have to spell out complicated medical terms and remember drug doses in millilitres AND milligrams.
We regularly encounter problems getting hold of some of Hugh's drugs. It is much easier to bring our own than to wait for the on-call pharmacist at 2am. His daily medicines are all kept together in a box anyway so it's easy to grab and go.
3. Clothes for them
It's usually really warm in hospital so bear that in mind. Pyjamas- lots of pyjamas - to cope with the various bodily fluids they'll be covered in. Other loose fitting clothes like light jogging bottoms and T-shirts are ideal too.
4. Clothes for you
I find it best to have my stuff in a separate bag if I can. Whilst I have often seen very glam parents in heels and dresses by their child's bedside, for me comfort is key. If I'm going to be living on a camp bed on the floor by Hugh's hospital bed for the best part of a week or more then I'm more interested in feeling comfortable than looking good. (In fairness that's my day-to-day approach anyway: more slummy mummy than yummy mummy, that's for sure!) During the day leggings and loose tops are great, I always bring slippers too. And for night-time I have a couple of pairs of pyjamas that could pass (at a distance) as joggers and these are way less embarrassing to be caught in than a dodgy floral nightie! When your child stops breathing at 4am and their bed is surrounded by a team of doctors you really don't want to be trying to cover up. With that in mind a night top with a bit of support is a good idea, saves that awkward crossed-arm pose to keep everything where it should be. You know what I mean ladies, don't you? Don't you???
5. Toiletries for them
Nappies and wipes, any creams or lotions, toothbrush and toothpaste. Hugh has eczema and this can flare up with the hospital sheets so I always have his creams packed. A good lip balm or Vaseline is good too as the warm hospitals can be really drying.
6. Toiletries for you
Face wipes (I just use Hugh's baby wipes), tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel. I have mine all packed in handy travel size containers so they're always ready and just top them up again after each hospital admission. A towel- some hospitals let you use theirs, others don't. And maybe you wouldn't want to use theirs anyway. Bring your own if you can.
Hugh's tube fed so this includes remembering feeding tubes too. Most hospitals can provide the equipment you need but it's best to have 1-2 feeds available if you can as these things aren't always easily accessible in a&e. For yourself grab what you can to take with you and remember a bottle of water, it might be a long time before you get a chance to get food or a drink.
8. Something to keep you both occupied
A book, an iPad, a few favourite toys- whatever you can to make those long hours pass by.
9. Your phone and a charger
To keep friends and family updated and, if you're like me, to while away the hours on various social media platforms!
For food, the morning papers, and a cup of whatever passes for coffee from the machine in the waiting room. So there you have it. The top 10 things I think you need to bring to hospital.
What about you?
Have you any items that you always bring?
Or like me, have you had a clothing disaster or been caught out, leaving something vitally important behind?