Top Tips for Hospital Admissions

Over the past few years I have spent close to 300 nights as an inpatient in quite a few hospitals here in Ireland, and even one in London (long story short, my spine should never be trusted to leave the country). Thanks to my spinal condition and more recently a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, it has kind of become the norm for me to have either a planned or emergency admission in my near future, which is not how I planned on spending my teenage years. But, thanks to this, I have become an expert on the ‘essential survival guide’ for hospital admissions!

Here are my top tips on getting through it and staying positive throughout a hospital admission, whether it's a one night stay or a four month stay! Here we go :

1. Always have an emergency bag ready to go

For my first couple of admissions, I was so unprepared. I never had anything I needed with me so my mum and dad would end up having to throw together the few things they thought I’d need into a bag to bring with them to A&E! So after a few near disaster pyjama problems, I decided that I would always have a bag packed with all my emergency supplies to help me through the first few days of an admission!

In my bag, I always have a pair of pyjamas, a sleeping dress (in case I can’t wear pyjamas due to tubes or catheters), some underwear, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pouch with hair bands and hair baubles, a list of my medications and dosages, a phone charger and a pair of comfy shoes or slippers! These things will help me get through the first couple of days until I feel well enough to compile a proper list of the things I want someone to get at your house for me.

2. Bring a comfort item such as a blanket or cuddly teddy bear

I always either have my big rag doll Molly with me or a blanket with teddy bears on it that I was given when I was a toddler. Little comfort items like this make hospital stays so much easier!

It’s hard being away from your own bed and home and sometimes for an undetermined length of time, so little cuddles from your teddy bear or snuggling up in your blanket can make you feel like you’ve got a little bit of home with you. Also, if you can bring a pillow from home, I guarantee you will sleep so much better than on the thin, plastic hospital ones!

3. Bring comfortable clothes

Being in hospital isn’t a fashion show, so get out of your jeans, shirts, dresses and get into the unattractive, big sloppy tracksuits, shorts, t-shirts and oversized jumpers. They are a million times more comfortable and make physiotherapy and occupational therapy far easier to do. Who cares if the young, hot McDreamy doctor sees you looking sloppy ?

4. Bring things to keep you entertained

Okay, so we all know hospital days can be super long and boring. I mean an hour can feel like a day in there, am I right ? So why not bring some things along to help you pass the day. Things like books, DvDs, colouring books and crayons are always good for passing a few hours.

When I’m in hospital long-term I always bring my ukulele with me and will happily sit for hours on end strumming away, learning new songs! One ward I was on, didn’t have a TV so I was so thankful when my mam brought my iPad in for me to watch some Netflix! I’d definitely recommend having either a laptop or iPad that you can use while in hospital that you can watch Netflix or YouTube on incase like me, you get stuck on a TV free ward!

5. Bring all your chargers and an extension lead

There is nothing worse than being stuck in hospital and realising that your phone is about to run out of charge and you’ve forgotten your charger! I’ve literally had procedures that scared me less than that because believe me unless you’ve experienced it you will never know the pain (swear I’m not being dramatic).

The only thing worse than that is lying in bed and realising that your charger doesn't stretch from the plug to your bed! That's why I highly suggest having a two plug extension lead or a long phone charger cable. Who wants to have to sit near a plug for an hour while their phone charges, when you could be comfy lying on your bed? Not me anyways.

6. Make sure to always bring some printed photos of happy memories with your family and friends

This may be an odd one but it’s one that I think is so important. I always bring photos of happier times, with the people I love the most in the world, to keep me motivated to get better and stronger so that I can get back to make more happy memories as soon as possible.

They keep me motivated when all I want to do is give up, and they remind me that the people in these photos all love me and are rooting for me every step of the way! As well as keeping me motivated, they also add some brightness and fun too, which will in turn only help keep you in a positive frame of mind!

7. If possible, get involved in activities in the hospital

If like me, you are still attending a Children’s Hospital, then you’ll understand when I say that ‘There is always something going on in the hospital’! So why not get involved ? My longest admission was a four month stay in a Children’s hospital almost five hours from my hometown. Within that time I became involved in lots of the events being organised in the hospital! Whether it was writing a blog post for the fundraising team to post on the hospital website, getting involved in a music video alongside fellow patients or going on day outings to the theatre, the zoo or a meal out in Nando’s. Things like this pass endless hours and you will almost be guaranteed to have some fun !

This may sound very weird, but I actually made lots of good memories in hospital. Of course there are horrible memories that I wish I could forget but there are as many, if not more, positive memories! I made health progress memories such as walking for the first time in nine months, but I also made memories like meeting one of my favourite bands ‘Picture This’. All these memories were made in a hospital! When a hospital is your second home, you sort of have to make the best of a bad situation, make the most of everyday and make as many amazing memories as you can! Every moment counts when you don’t know what’s around the corner!

8. Give everything a go and take all the help you are offered

I remember the first time, I was offered to see a psychologist, I was not happy. I thought that they were claiming that it was all in my head or that they didn’t believe me that I was in so much pain. I was so against the idea of seeing a psychologist that I didn’t even want to listen to the reason as to why they were recommending it but I am so glad my mam persuaded me to listen. They were recommending I see a psychologist purely to support me as I learned about all the ways that my life was about to change.