My packing list for a healing hospital stay

Recently, while I was walking to an appointment at my neurologist's office and thinking about the new symptom i'd been experiencing, I looked up at the hospital i'd once stayed in for 9 weeks and thought...what if this escalates and I have to go back to hospital? which was quite an unsettling thought given my last experience. Thankfully the symptom wasn't related to MS and I walked out feeling very relieved. 

But for those brief moments before my appointment it all flashed before me. What would I take with me if I did have to go back? what would make it more enjoyable? what could I eat? what would make it more comfortable? what would help with disability? So I thought it was time I had a list, so if the worst came to the worst, i'd be somewhat prepared. 

During my initial episode and subsequent 9 week stay, my skin got so dry my lips were always cracking and peeling.  After weeks on steroids my face was in a constant state of pimples. The food although at the time I thought it was great was pretty repetitive and not very OMS. At one point I was on mashed food and thickened liquid which led to a few vitamin deficiencies and the supplements they gave me for it were putrid. My whole body would literally tense up involuntarily when I had them. The slightest hint of the hospital handsoap was enough to make me want to heave. And when it got to a point that hearing became my only reliable sense, guided meditations would have been perfect.

We all learnt a lot from that first episode so I thought i'd put this post together in terms of that experience and include some of the products and things I would definitely take with me now, knowing what I now know about MS and how it affects the body, and share with you guys in case you were wondering the same. I've included all the little hacks that we learnt the first time round plus some more essentials that I use now and love.

My list is all about making hospital as calming, comfortable and healing as possible during an MS flare.


HYDRATE THE SKIN

Hospitals are incredibly drying places and if you have choking or swallowing issues they might put you on thickened water like they did with me, which is awful, it's like drinking glue. So I got very dehydrated and dry in hospital.

  • WELEDA SKIN FOOD

Weleda Skinfood

Weleda Skinfood

The thickest all natural "everything balm" that works on literally everything. I have about 3 tubes of this now between my handbag, my bedside table and my make-up bag because it's magic. Anywhere you have dry skin - lips, eye area, hair, cuticles, elbows, feet or just a body cream or face cream - you can put this and it smells amazing. It's also certified organic and really affordable. It'd make the perfect gift for someone in hospital. 

  • thick BODY MOISTURISER & HAND CREAM

I use and love KORA Organics because it's certified organic and really thick and nourishing. And it smells so good!

  • MOISTURISING EYE DROPS for dry eyes

  • WATER BOTTLE WITH rubber GRIP & REUSABLE STRAW

Water bottle from Coles. Re-usable straw from Just Blends.

Water bottle from Coles. Re-usable straw from Just Blends.

I struggled to hold things properly last time so anything with grip works great. Plus a reusable straw to make sipping easier. I got this 500ml glass bottle from Coles and the re-usable stainless steel straw from Just Blends.

  • BODY OIL

For extra hydration because everything get so dry. Weleda do great ones!

  • GOOD PIMPLE CREAM

Steroids gave me lots of horrible pimples, if all else fails grab some tea tree oil.

  • EXFOLIATOR & MASKS

In case a 4 day stay turns into a month. Also great if someone wants to give you a DIY facial to lift your spirits.

  • PHONE CASE WITH GRIP

Rubber phone cases by Apple

Rubber phone cases by Apple

Ben had to buy me a new phone case that had grip so I didn't drop it, as this became a bit of an issue with me. I had very little strength left. Apple make great grippy phone cases now in nice plain colours.


FOR COMFORT

  • COMFY CASUAL CLOTHES

Lots of trackies, cotton tee-shirts, warm socks, layers, and good walking shoes, so I can relax and feel as comfortable as possible.

  • in winter, A nice warm BLANKET FROM HOME + MY OWN PILLOW

I was in hospital in mid winter and it was freezing, we layered scarves and a blanket my nana made for me (hand dyed and wove herself) on my bed which made it feel nice and homely. Also nice at night when your alone and want something familiar.

  • SOCKS & UGG BOOTS

For rehab and walking around the hospital

  • EAR PLUGS

There can be some really loud snorers especially when people are knocked out on pain medication. An eye mask would be great aswell as nurses do checks through the night on you and your neightbors. There are always lights flashing and sounds beeping.

  • CANVAS SHOULDER BAG

To carry all my clothes and toiletries to the bathroom in case balance and weakness became an issue. I dropped things a lot and really struggled with holding multiple things and walking at the same time. It also free's up your hands if you need/have a walking stick. 

  • A Vase

For flowers as the hospitals have limited options. 

  • Hair Dryer, leave-in conditioner & hair brush

Your hair gets pretty neglected in hospital and laying in bed with wet hair isn't nice especially in winter. My hairdryer was so valuable my neighbours were borrowing it. And leave-in conditioner to avoid knots. My neighbor had some serious knot issues after weeks on her back in bed without being able to brush her hair.

  • tissues

  • Natural hand sanitiser

EO Peppermint hand sanitizer - I currently use and love.

EO Peppermint hand sanitizer - I currently use and love.

So you don't put chemicals on your skin all the time. You can get some nice peppermint oil based ones from the health food store.

  • Cooling headbands

These are the type you immerse in water so the beads inside absorb the water, you can place them in the fridge or the freezer to set then tie them around your head and neck to stay cool. I had a lot of heat in base of my head where all the inflammation was, and these were great. Ben and I also wear these in our apartment in the summer.

  • Favourite tea cup

My favourite mug & Three Tulsi tea

My favourite mug & Three Tulsi tea

Otherwise you have to use weak polystyrene or plastic disposable cups. I wish I'd thought of this when I was in hospital.


FOR SELF CARE

  • HAND MIRROR (PREFERABLY WITH A LIGHT) AND TWEEZERS

It's a lot easier to pluck eyebrows with a hand mirror because you can adjust the angle if you have eye issues and you can sit in bed if you have mobility issues.

  • NAIL CLIPPERS

Yes you can end up with talons if you stay long enough.

Nail clippers with file

Nail clippers with file

  • EXERCISE MAT

To do additional physio. I exercised whenever I could even though I was exhausted I just did it anyway and I was walking (aided) within weeks. It really helps.

  • ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH with charger

Just makes life so much easier if you don't have the strength or the co-ordination. I really struggled with brushing my teeth with a regular toothbrush in hospital. The toothbrush would slam into my gums because I had no control - my co-ordination had left the building. I was so worried about cutting my gums up and getting sicker so if you have an electric toothbrush definately take it. Also handy if someone else has to brush your teeth for you.


FOR ENTERTAINMENT

My laptop, journal, phone and headphones

My laptop, journal, phone and headphones

  • LAPTOP + charger & DVD BOX SETS

Some of my favourites - Game of Thrones, Sex in the City, Little Britain, Seinfeld, Friends. I would stick with things you love that are funny and uplifting.

  • GAMES

We played a lot of Rummikub which kept my brain working and helped pass time. I also downloaded the Rummikub app on my phone and played it when I got home to keep my brain active.

  • PHONE & CHARGER

  • HEADPHONES

TO CALM THE SENSES

ECO Essential oils - Peppermint, Energy blend & Lavender

ECO Essential oils - Peppermint, Energy blend & Lavender

Lavender is a calming oil, I always put a few drops on my wrists and pillow in the evening to help me relax and sleep. Peppermint is my new favourite, it's invigorating which helps to clear the head especially in a stuffy hospital. Essential oils are great at getting back in touch with nature. I found this great article all about essential oils including what they are, how they work, applications, history and what each one is great for addressing here including immunity.

  • "I am brave" Hanako body spray

Hanako natural purfume

Hanako natural purfume

My new natural perfume made from essential oils and smells amazing! The most beautiful, refreshing, uplifting scent.

  • PINK HIMALAYAN SALT LAMP

Pink Himalyen salt lamp

Pink Himalyen salt lamp

To avoid all the harsh blue and fluro lights in the hospital - I get quite photo sensitive and these emit a lovely pink light. They also cleanse the air and reduce electromagnetic radiation.

  • EUCALYPTUS OIL

If your in public healthcare you have no control over your neighbours. Eucalyptus is strong and drowns out other smells well.

  • AESOP BODY WASH

Hospital soaps are GROSS, they smell like disinfectant and their really harsh, I couldn't bere the smell of them after a few weeks. Aesop products smell incredible and you can get a 500ml pump of body wash that is well worth it. There's an Aesop store on Oxford St close to St Vincents Hospital in Sydney.

  • "SIMPLY BEING" APP FOR MEDITATION

Simply Being App (icon)

Simply Being App (icon)

To meditate daily if not more, and calm the body down for healing.

  • GOOD SELECTION OF MUSIC & PODCASTS

I'm a huge fan of podcasts. I have a handful of great ones I subscribe to. Lots of health ones and lots of uplifting motivational ones.

  • DIARY & PEN

To journal. It's great to write out the days events, symptoms and how your feeling so you can see how far you've come months down the track as you heal. I read over mine from back then and my handwriting is almost illegible. It's incredible to see the recovery and the emotions you go through.

  • LOUISE HAYS 'YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE"

You can heal your life by Louise Hay

You can heal your life by Louise Hay

To stay positive. The affirmations are beautiful. She uses mantras to bring more consciousness into areas of the body and release the need for illness in the body. If my eyes were playing up I would do her guided meditations and get this in an audio book.


STAYING NOURISHED

  • GOOD OMS FOOD

Raw almonds & cashews, chia seeds, green tea and herbal teas, marmite, dark chocolate 85%, amazon power acai powder, a big bag of fruit and some almond milk.

Obliging friends and family are essential to get you good, nourishing, healing food. The Dahl recipe on my instagram page is really easy to throw together and makes quite a bit if someone was kind enough to cook for you. It's easy enough to freeze in portions, plus it has lots of healing turmeric in it.

The healthiest cafe we've found that's close to St Vincents Hospital in Sydney is Orchard St, on Oxford St up by Zimmermann. They do amazing raw vegan salads and raw treats, coffees, smoothies and kombucha. They also sell crystals and other lovely healing things like candles, natural body sprays and books.

  • Nutri Bullet

It goes with me everywhere. Also great if your on mashed food as it literally pulverizes things. A smoothie bowl would be perfect. I remember being on calcium and potassium supplements in hospital and they were DIS-GUSTING. But I'd been able to have a smoothie bowl, the base of which being potassium rich bananas, I may not have needed them. You can put things in the hospital fridge to. 

Raw nuts are a great source of calcium, protein and omegas to stay nourished. I lost a lot of weight in hospital and healthy fats would have been great.

  • melrose FLAXSEED OIL & a tablespoon to measure

Melrose certified organic flaxseed oil (I currently use and love) & a tablespoon.

Melrose certified organic flaxseed oil (I currently use and love) & a tablespoon.

OMS essential and full of healthy fats for the brain.

  • my vegan PROBIOTIC supplement, coconut water KEFIR, kombucha

BioCeuticals vegan probiotic supplement & B12 sprayย 

BioCeuticals vegan probiotic supplement & B12 spray 

To boost the good gut bugs as the medications and sterile environment of the hospital disrupts and weakens the micro-biome (bacteria that lives on our skin and inside us).

  • MY OWN VITAMIN D3 & B12 SPRAY

I learnt this once i'd gotten home that the hospitals use the synthetic and cheap form of vitamin D called vitamin D2. But what we need is Vitamin D3 - the same as the what we get from the sun.

  • MAGNESIUM supplements

Helps me with relaxation and sleep.

Check with your doctor before taking anything as it might interfere with your medication.


medical INFO

  • Neurologists details - name, phone, email
  • Any other specialists you have and their details
  • Medication name & dates you have your infusion/meds - mine are kept in my iphone calender
  • GP's name and contact info
  • Medicare Card

Thankfully Ben knows all this information for me and knows how to access it on my phone - i'm sure your care givers do to, they go through it all with us after-all. But if you wanted a handy place to store it, use the "Notes" app on iphone (i'm sure android has an equivalent).


LIST

  • WELEDA SKIN FOOD

  • thick BODY MOISTURISER & HAND CREAM

  • MOISTURISING EYE DROPS

  • WATER BOTTLE WITH rubber GRIP + REUSABLE STRAW

  • BODY OIL

  • GOOD PIMPLE CREAM - TEA TREE OIL

  • your skincare + EXFOLIATOR & MASKS

  • grippy PHONE CASE

  • Lavender & peppermint ESSENTIAL OILs

  • HANAKO spray

  • HIMALAYAN SALT LAMP

  • EUCALYPTUS OIL

  • AESOP BODY WASH pump

  • tissues

  • Natural hand sanitiser

  • cooling headbands

  • SIMPLY BEING APP + HEADPHONES

  • MUSIC & PODCASTS

  • empty DIARY & PEN

  • "YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE" Book by LOUISE HAY

  • COMFY CASUAL CLOTHES

  • BLANKET & PILLOW

  • SOCKS & UGG BOOTS

  • EAR PLUGS & eye mask

  • fabric SHOULDER BAG

  • A Vase

  • Hair Dryer, leave-in conditioner & hair brush

  • lots of OMS FOOD- nuts, nut milk, fruit, Acai, snacks

  • nutri-bullet blender

  • FLAXSEED OIL + tablespoon to measure

  • vegan PROBIOTIC supplement, kefir & kombucha

  • VITAMIN D3 & B12 SPRAY

  • MAGNESIUM

  • HAND MIRROR + TWEEZERS

  • NAIL CLIPPERS

  • EXERCISE MAT

  • ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH + charger

  • LAPTOP & DVD's / BOX SETS

  • games - Rumikub & cards

  • PHONE & laptop CHARGER

  • all medical info in one place


I think thats it! It seems like a lot of things but most of them are quite small and I know i'd make use of all of them. After my last experience I would way rather be prepared, especially during the stress of an MS flare, then have nothing familiar or helpful with me. 

I'd love to know what you guys would take with you - is there anything you'd throw in your bag without a doubt? Or has anything helped you in the past?

I'd also encourage you to make your own list and put it somewhere your partner or family can access if you get sick, it's quite an interesting process. It makes you feel prepared should the worst happen so you can have the most comfortable, healing stay during a challenging time. 

Much love!!

Simonne x