My “To Go Bag.” Part 1

Let’s talk about the bag:

In light of the hurricanes and tornadoes and natural disasters this would be a great article for everyone to think about, but when you have a chronic illness like COPD you know that there is a good chance that no matter how well you take care of yourself, because of factors outside your control, you will end up sooner or later at the Emergency department. Often when this happens there is no intent by you to stay in hospital overnight but if you have ever gone to the emergency room with low oxygen reading, short of breath and increased heart rate, chances are, you will probably be a guest staying for a few days.

I sat down after my last hospital stay and wrote a list of what I missed so I could be ready when it happened again.  I decided to pre-pack my bag because in an emergency I’m seldom in control of packing a bag as I’m often physically unable to do it. For me it’s anxiety invoking enough to have to stay in hospital but it makes the trip a little less intimidating if I have the little things that can make my stay more comfortable.

So far that bag is just sitting in my closet but it’s there and its ready for when I need it. This isn’t a going away for the weekend fun bag and hopefully it will not be used a lot but it is a bag built for comfort with comfortable things. Don’t spend a lot of money on any of the items as most of the items should be disposable. (More on that in another article)

 

My To Go Bag/Travel Bag

Pick colours you can live with that will amuse you and make you laugh and maybe make you feel better. I looked around waiting for a good sale and found a small travel bag with wheels. Remembering how much room I did not have while in hospital I made my case smaller in size.

Wheels are very important as whoever is pulling your bag will probably have their hands full with your CPap or BiPap machine.  If it is you that is pulling the bag, wheels would be vital, especially if you are anything like me and using a walker. Make sure the wheels on your bag roll easily and check that they are somewhat sturdy and stable.

Check all the zippers and closures to make sure you can manage them and pay attention to how many pockets it has as well as how deep the pockets are. Sometimes the pockets are so shallow that they are useless and if you can’t picture what is going into that pocket then what good are they?

My “To Go Bag.” Part 2

Clothing

Make clothing sizes generous and everything doesn’t have to be new. The doctors and nurses don’t really care about the shape of your PJ’s.

When I find a pair of pajama’s that I favour and find I wear lot, you know the one’s that you wash over and over and always seem to be wearing, and I will buy a duplicate to keep in my bag. In fact, keep the new ones and put the old ones in your bag. At least I will have something to wear that will both fit me and be comfortable. Why not buy two in different colours?

I rarely wear a robe even in the hospital but I do wear a sweater and I like one that is not too hot but keeps me from getting chilled in the air conditioning. I do use a robe when showering so it is important to include this, but it will likely be brought up to the hospital if your stay is long enough and you are lucky enough to be able to have a shower.

 

A couple of pairs of comfortable underwear if you need to keep only the gown on and a few undershirts, bra’s and socks if you wear them. COPD feels like a band around your chest so we rarely wear bra’s unless necessary.

Slippers are a necessity for me. My feet never touch the ground without slippers or shoes so I really need a good pair of slippers. I usually throw them out after my hospital stay so I don’t pay a lot for them but they are still comfy and they fit me.

Take a plastic bag for your laundry and for anything that has to go back and forth with family.

 

My To Go Bag – Part 3

Electronics: I cannot live without them.

Once you get your clothes packed you will need to get the electronics together and this is what your pockets in your bags are for. Be realistic about what you need. I take my cell phone and my tablet with me and both will need to be recharged so I will bring a charging cord for each of them and an extra cord for when one stops working. Don’t forget the extension cord so you can plug into the wall and still charge each one. Make sure it is safety standard approved. In Canada that means you have a CSA Canadian Standards Act sticker on it to use electronics in the hospital

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Cosmetics Bag

For a cosmetic bag I use a small lunch bag, plastic lined one is best for when of leakage. I also put things like soap and shampoo into a small sandwich bags so I am not worried about them leaking. I have a few lunch bags around the house but I found a really fun one and picked it for its bright colours. At the dollar store my daughter bought small refillable bottles with tight filling lids and I fill them from home using my favourite shampoo, gel soap, hand cream, facial cream, nasal lubricating gel. I even managed to get a few bottles that had pumps for tops.

I include a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, razors and any other toiletries I cannot live without. Don’t forget a comb or brush and use a pencil-case to separate razors so you are not injured looking for it.

Pack a Fan

Sometimes the rooms are so hot that I find it hard to breathe and having a fan is essential to keep that air moving. I use 2 fans at home every night and apart from the Black Noise it makes it keeps my temperature regulated. My portable one is a small fan that clips on anything, thereby not taking up precious table top space. It is inexpensive, usually found under $15.00 but worth its weight in gold.  If my neighbour complains I can pull my curtain, in fact I prefer the privacy more than I should and always try to keep my curtains pulled.

Blankets and Pillows

I have seen people bring in their favourite pillows and blankets but I rarely go that far. However, that being said, in one ICU ward they had no pillows so mine had to come in.

I would recommend that if you want to take your own linens or pillows that you buy inexpensive pillows and blankets or bring them from home but be willing to throw them out as they should never be introduced to your own bedding. Any bedding that you use in the hospital should never be brought into your bedroom until washed and dried on HOT for at least an hour.

Take a plastic bag for your laundry and for anything that has to go back and forth with family. When you bring your clothing and blankets and pillows home, they should be kept in a plastic bag and sealed until wash time. Place your laundry straight from the plastic bag to the washer. Wash on HOT water and use a dryer on HIGH/HOT heat. This is a way of not having any unwanted guests coming home with you.

catchyourbreath60@gmail.com

I struggle to breath every minute of every day. I have COPD and Chronic Heart Events. This is my story of the daily struggle to survive using mind, body and soul while navigating the Canadian medical system.

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