How to Prepare Ahead of Time for Sudden Hospitalizations
One of the most annoying things about sickle cell disease is that a hospitalization can occur with very short notice. I might be fine one moment only to become severely ill the next, often without any heads-up from my body. Therefore, it is important to be prepared.
Because I was recently hospitalized, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips on being prepared for hospitalizations.
1. Pre-pack a bag
I have a pre-packed bag that’s ready to grab on short notice. My bag includes clothes, underwear, toiletries, a phone charger, and a book. I also grab a handheld fan and my iPad and put them in the bag before leaving.
Make sure to store your bag somewhere that’s easily accessible when you are in pain. I used to keep mine under the bed, but during my most recent crisis, I was in too much pain to lift up my bed to reach it. I have since moved the bag to a cupboard for easier access.
Hospitals can be boring, especially during the pandemic, as visits from friends and family members are restricted. It is important to bring things that provide a distraction. I always bring a book, but I never seem to be lucid enough to enjoy reading while in the hospital. Instead, I tend to watch things on my iPad.
When I feel unwell, little things like managing my personal care needs help me to feel somewhat normal. I prefer to bring my own clothes and toiletries so that I feel more like myself. Hospital toiletries and gowns have a real “patient” feel to them, which I dislike.
2. Bring a list of medications
At the hospital, patients are asked about their medications several times, beginning with the arrival of the ambulance and continuing through the point of admission. It’s important to know which medications you are taking.
I recommend writing a list on each medication, with the dosage and the frequency. For sickle cell patients, if you have taken pain-relief medication at home to counter a crisis, take notes about which medications you took, the dosage, and the times they were taken. This information is crucial for the medical team that treats you.
Also, be sure to advise them of any allergies you might have. I am dangerously allergic to a type of penicillin. When I take it, I experience severe anaphylaxis. Thus, it is important that medical personnel know this as soon as possible, because most sickle cell patients are treated with penicillin.
If I fail to mention the allergy, I could easily have this medication administered to me simply because it is the norm. I keep all of this information in a health app on my mobile phone.
3. Have plans to maintain your home
If you live alone and are hospitalized for a prolonged period, remember to cancel any deliveries or services you won’t be able to receive. You may find it helpful to have a trusted loved one occasionally check on your home to ensure any urgent mail isn’t overlooked.
You also may find it helpful to have someone help you clean while you are in the hospital so that upon discharge, you won’t have to worry about cleaning your house while you recover.
If you have pets, make sure to arrange for their care during your absence, either by family members or professionals. If you have caring responsibilities for others, try to ensure that they are managed in your absence, either by family members or with professional intervention if necessary. Hospital staff may be able to advise you how to best manage this.
Of course, you can’t always be entirely prepared at the drop of a hat. For example, if I’m out socially and am hospitalized, I wouldn’t have my hospital bag with me. But the fact that it is pre-packed makes it easier for me to ask a family member to bring it for me. If I didn’t have a pre-packed bag, I’d have to explain where everything is and ask someone else to pack it for me, which can be stressful, time-consuming, and inconvenient for them.
Do you have tips to be prepared for hospitalizations? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Sickle Cell Anemia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sickle Cell Anemia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sickle cell anemia.