Five things for a fun trip to the hospital (okay, not ‘fun’; maybe ‘less terrible’)
It seemed like such a good idea to change every single thing about our children’s diet right after we finished our tour of local hospitals and smack in the midst of end-of-school-year madness, but, ALAS, it’s turning out to be the straw that made the camel’s head explode.
I spent two hours last night that I could have been relaxing or blogging or reading books about people who have to use ice for toilet paper cooking and storing a massive veggies and rice dish so that we could have some non-processed food on hand, which was doubly insane since my awesome friends already hooked me up with tons of great food. I spent the rest of the night debating whether I was more angry or exhausted, with the latter winning out by just a hair. Anyway, I think the lesson to be learned here is that one should never try to prepare healthful meals when one could be blogging.
I am feeling particularly low on brain cells today, so luckily Hallie has provided me with an easy post idea with her Five Favorites blog carnival. For this round I thought I’d list five things that made my various recent hospital stays more bearable. These would be handy things to acquire of you’re planning to get very sick any time soon, and would also make great gifts for anyone you know who’s hospital-bound (the ones that are legal to give as gifts, anyway).
1. An extra cell phone charger
I can’t believe it took me so long to think of this. I was living my life with a mere two device chargers, one by my bed and one in the kitchen, both of which I use regularly. I would take the one from the kitchen whenever I traveled, and invariably I’d lose it in the bottom of some bag or leave it plugged in at the NICU, and then I would have to walk all the way upstairs when I needed to plug my phone in at home. Doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, right? I thought the same thing until the time I returned downstairs to find our 20-month-old standing in the center of the kitchen table, holding two now-empty cereal boxes whose contents were all over the floor. Extremely helpful to have a separate charger just dedicated to travel (and if you’re giving it as a gift, you could get a cute one like this).
2. A tablet
I thought I knew what it was to love my Google Nexus, but I didn’t know what tablet-love was until I found myself stuck in the hospital. I used my Nexus to watch Netflix, read books, surf the web, check email, and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Best of all, I used it to do video calls with Joe and the kids via Skype — it was surprisingly helpful for us all to be able to see each other. I have a basic Nexus 7, which is small (about the size of a large paperback book), and one of the least expensive tablets on the market. I don’t know what I would have done without it!
3. The Relax and Sleep app
When I was in the hospital in January, I hardly got any sleep. Every time I was about to drift off there would be ambulance sirens outside my window, someone standing right outside my door and using her cell phone to speak to someone who was evidently very hard of hearing (seriously, what is with people shouting into their cell phones in hospital hallways?), or an announcement over the intercom saying “Attention: Code Blue” which sent my mind into overdrive wondering what terrible thing Code Blue might mean. I downloaded this Relax and Sleep app, and it was a life-saver. It gives you dozens of different sound options, and you can play multiple sounds at once (I usually did fountain + ocean + rain). I also used it all the time to block out the sounds of beeping monitors and crying babies when I’d try to read in the NICU. Best app ever.
4. A fabulous travel bag
This bag is so amazing. It is perfect in every way. I got it as a gift a while back, and it’s hard to describe how much I love it. The leather is strong yet as soft as melted butter, the interior lining is silky smooth, and it has just the right number and type of compartments. This sounds unbelievably shallow, but it was a significant source of pleasure for me in my long days of running back and forth to the NICU. When I was feeling exhausted and stressed and utterly overwhelmed, it always boosted my spirits to see this beautiful and stylish bag, and to know that everything I needed was tucked inside.
5. A cute oversized sweater
My long, black maternity sweater ended up being the Swiss Army Knife of my wardrobe for hospital stays (I can’t find it anywhere on line, but it’s similar to this one). I used it to keep warm, obviously, but also put it to work as a pillow, a nursing cover, and a blanket. The cotton/polyester blend is durable and doesn’t wrinkle easily, so I could stuff it into a bag or throw it into the back of the car without worrying about it. Also, it’s stylish enough that I felt good about wearing it, and it did a great job of disguising whatever stained, mismatched outfit I’d thrown on that morning.
BONUS ITEM: Ambien
When I was discharged from the hospital after having the baby, I asked the on-call OB if she’d give me a prescription for a low dose of the sleeping aid Ambien. Since I’m not used to asking doctors for drugs and am also really neurotic I half expected her to gasp, glare at me like the druggie I obviously am, and open a secret panel on the wall to trigger an alarm to let everyone in the hospital know that they had a crazed addict on their hands. (Like I said: neurotic.) Anyway, as it turned out she said that that was a good idea and wrote me a prescription for a low dose. I knew that having a baby in intensive care with five other kids at home was going to lead to schedule insanity, and I’d need to grab sleep whenever I could; there wouldn’t be a lot of margin for lying awake for hours at a time thinking up new and worse things that could go wrong. I only took the Ambien on a few occasions (I was careful not to rely on it too much, since we really did not need “mommy’s sleeping pill addiction” to be added to the list of our problems), but it was a huge help in getting me through those two weeks.
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Hopefully you and everyone you know are in great health and will have no use for this list — and hopefully I won’t need it again either. Maybe 2014 will be entirely different over here, and my Five Favorites a year from now will be a list of essential items you need when taking a weeklong vacation to Tahiti.