The Hospital Purse
Currently, we are in the middle of COVID 19 which means hospital visits are very different. I'm sharing my experiences BC -Before COVID.
The phone rings at 10:45 pm. You wonder if it's your mom or your dad that needs to be taken to the hospital. You tell your mom with Alzheimer's to put on her shoes, get her purse and you will be right there. You dial 911, throw on some clothes and shoes, grab your purse, keys, the phone then rush out the door.
The first few trips I wasn't prepared for how many hours we would wait in the ER and what we would need for survival. I quickly fixed that problem. Remember the hospital bag that you packed in anticipation of your child being born? It was ready to go at a moment's notice - this bag needs to be the same except instead of using it once in happy anticipation this bag will be used multiple times and will become your tool kit.
What do you need? A big purse, handbag or backpack that needs to stay packed and located where you can quickly grab it.
10 things you need in the Hospital Purse
Phone charger - go buy a new one -don't think that you will remember to grab yours. I once had to spend $40 for a charger in the Gift Shop at Methodist Hospital. And for the love of all that is Holy - do not let your teenager know there is an extra charger. This is not an extra charger. It belongs to the Hospital Purse and no one else.
Adult coloring book - this is especially helpful if your loved one has Alzheimer's. My mom will focus on her picture and not ask why we are in the hospital. I actually carry two books so that I also can focus elsewhere. Coloring is good for the soul no matter what your age. If you have a coloring book, you need colored pencils. And if you have a friend who is new to the Caregiver game - go to Hobby Lobby, buy her a coloring book, the good pencils, and a pencil holder - don't forget to use your 40% off coupon - it's always available on the app.
Cash - specifically dollar bills and quarters. When it is 2 a.m. and you need a Snickers and Dr. Pepper the night nurse probably will not have proper change. Take enough that you can share because some people don't know about the Hospital Purse.
Snacks - granola bars, almonds, peanut butter crackers - not chocolate - you buy that fresh at the vending machine. And don't forget mints.
A Journaling Bible - I never thought I would color in my bible but things have changed. I purchased the Inspire Creative Journaling Bible - in large print.
A Blank Journal - write down your feelings or just update your to-do list. Getting things out of your mind and onto paper is very productive. Make sure you have your favorite pens - again bring extra to share.
A notebook for Q&A with the doctor - this is so important and will become priceless to you as you try to remember medications, date of last hospital stay, what they are allergic to, etc. There are so many repetitive questions. Be prepared and you won't have to remember all the answers.
First Aid Medicine for you - My container has Excedrin, sinus meds, anti-acid meds - you need this for the stress and eating the fried hospital food. My prescription migraine medicine and my Xanax. Do not be afraid to ask your personal physician for help. There is so much stress involved and it's ok to have something to help. Another handy tip- my mom has medicine to calm her and my dad would give it to her every time she asked. Once I got involved I realized she was overmedicating so I worked on cutting her back. I went to the Pharmacy and asked for an empty bottle, I filled it with Tic Tacs and told her it was Ativan and that she could take when she needed but don't take more than 2 every 4 hours. The placebo effect worked and she felt like she had control, which calmed and helped her.
Hand Sanitizer - I realize that since COVID we all have this all the time but I was carrying Germ X way before it was a necessity.
Blank Note Cards - this is great to write a thank you note to the nurses or just a hello to a friend you haven't seen for a while.