How to Spend All Night In the Hospital

So you might have noticed that I wasn’t posting a whole lot on Friday. That’s because I spent Thursday night/Friday morning in the hospital with a friend of mine. Luckily, he’s OK, but I did find myself lounging around in the waiting area wishing I’d thought ahead. Granted, we can’t always know when people are going to wake up in the middle of the night and pass kidney stones, but if you’re intending to visit a friend  in the hospital, here are some things you might want to bring:

  • Layers. Sometimes, you’re in a freezing cold room, and sometimes you’re in a ridiculously warm one. Bring a hoodie or cardigan since you never know.
  • Reading material. Hospital visits often involve a lot of “hurry up and wait,” so you’ll need something to keep you occupied, especially if you don’t like whatever’s playing on the closest TV. Books and magazines are a better call than iPods, since you’ll want to be able to hear if your name gets called or someone’s trying to contact you.
  • Coins and dollar bills. You’re most likely going to be relying on vending machines for snacks/drinks, especially if you’re there at 3 AM when the cafeteria isn’t open. Plus, if you get your cell phone confiscated – um, not that this happened to me or anything – you’ll need coins for a pay phone.
  • Pillows. If you’re going to be in the waiting room all night, it’s possible you might also fall asleep. Whatever helps keep you comfortable is worth bringing.
  • Whatever your friend or relative would like. Are they a gossip junkie? Make sure you bring the latest copies of Us Weekly and Star. Do they have a favorite stuffed animal or other thing from home? Bring it in and they’ll feel more at ease. However, you shouldn’t bring anything that could be unintentionally harmful. It may be tempting to sneak in their favorite junk food, but you never know what’s going to react badly with their medicine. It’s also possible, depending on what kind of treatment they’re getting, that your friend’s tastes have changed or that their immune system is compromised and food doesn’t taste the same to them anymore.
  • Contact numbers for loved ones. In the age of cell phones, it seems like nobody knows anyone’s phone number anymore. In case your cell phone is banned or doesn’t get service, keep a written list of relevant phone numbers handy.

Anyone else have tips of their own? Leave ‘em in the comments.

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    • Prisca

      As an extra: I would bring a good portion of good mood (and/or humor)! As I visited my sister in hospital last week, she recovered quickly from her narcosis when I made her laugh, joked a little (on an appropriate level) and was spirited! Distracts from pains and sorrows!

    • haironmychest

      coins are a must, or you’ll be left drinking shitty coffee from the waiting room. that or drop in a convenience store on the way over and smuggle in a few cans of soda and snacks.

    • Groovymarlin

      Well these are all great suggestions, especially that phone number thing. There are lots of places in hospitals where you aren’t supposed to take your cell phone at all, or at the very least they’ll make you turn it off.

      If you do have time to pack a little tote before heading to the hospital, it might also be a good idea to take some of your own snacks, just in case all they have in the vending machine is Twizzlers and Lorna Doone cookies! I’d bring an apple, some granola bars, maybe some hard candy.

      Unfortunately, I had to spend about three weeks sitting around the hospital while my baby was in PICU shortly after she was born (she had a heart condition which has since resolved, thank good ness). I really appreciated having a pillow, so I could grab a nap here and there. Also lip balm and hand lotion, because the constant air conditioning really dried out my skin. And magazines, magazines, magazines (this was before the Kindle was invented, or I’d have just had that with me!).

      • Lilit Marcus

        You’re totally right about lip balm and hand lotion – good advice! And I’m glad to hear your daughter’s doing better.

    • Laura

      Toothbrush. I was in Children’s ER/hospital with my infant this past weekend. The first night I just wanted to brush my teeth. While I was in the waiting room while my son was in the operating room I had no bars on my phone. At least I could get at my contact numbers. Great post.

    • brandy

      I am staying at the hospital as i post and ur list is everything i have accumulated over a period of days…great list i also brought clean clothes and especially undies and throw blanket