How Do I Make My Hospital Room Feel Like Home?

Read here or in this month’s issue of IGLiving!

So it’s that time again. You’re being wheeled into a hospital room. You have no idea how long you’ll be here for. It could be a night. It could be a month. With immune deficiency it’s a guessing game about how long an infection will take to clear up—and it’s no small hazard to be in the most infectious building in your city.

This room is going to be your home now. So you’ve got to make it work.

Here are some of my top tips for keeping your hospital room cozy, clean, and conducive to getting stuff done.

  1. Sure. A custodian has come through and wiped the same rag over the mouthpiece of your room’s phone, bed handles, toilet seat and eating tray. I’m sure they’ve also dragged that same grungy mop from room to room pushing dust and gunk and who knows what across the floor you’re now supposed to walk across in hospital socks. Don’t delude yourself to thinking your hospital room is sterile. It isn’t. So you make sure that your hospital bag includes Clorox wipes, Purell and disinfecting spray. Wipe down that phone, those bed handles, that eating tray. Get yourself a pair of slippers so your socks don’t go from floor to bed dragging all that gunk with them. If you plan on touching your butt to that toilet seat—wipe it down first! You are vulnerable here. So if ever there was a place to let your obsessive compulsive tendencies shine: this is it.

  1. Stay Cool. Or hot, if that’s your preference. Most hospital room now have their own thermostat for each patient to control. I generally like to keep my room cool—it helps keep the germ population at bay, but it’s also easier for me to make myself warm at night than it is to cool myself down. My hospital kit always includes an XL throw blanket—something large enough to cover me, but small enough to fit in the washing machine at home. (Because the first thing you do when you get home is put ever piece of clothing you wore at the hospital in the wash!) I also like to bring my electric heating pad. If nothing is actually hurting me I just sleep on top of it, but if my IV is infiltrated or I have some kind of sore area—I’ll wrap the heat pack around it and I’ll be glad the room is cold so I’m not overheated.

  1. The truth is, that when you’re in a hospital room you’re just a marionette. You’re attached to an IV, to heart monitors, sometimes to feeding tubes or oxygen masks. Everything you need—needs to be within reach. First thing first—have someone help you to plug everything into nearby outlets. Your phone charger. Your laptop charger. Your heating pad. You have two surfaces you need to make the most out of: your nightstand and your meal tray. The meal tray opens up into two sections. On one I keep my laptop, headphones and a notebook with a pen (to take notes when doctors come in and you’re half-asleep but need to remember their instructions.) The other side of the table is for food, drinks and snacks. Try to put a lid on any beverages just in case you knock the tray while you’re sleeping or moving around. On the nightstand goes your phone, your tissues, any glasses/contact cases or any other personal items you might have with you. Make sure to wipe down these surfaces every day with a disinfecting wipe.

  1. Make It Your Own. Okay, as far as that statement goes I realize how lame it is. “Make it your own!” Like this hospital room is some sick venue for a nightclub. I get it. This room is never going to be as comfortable as your home—but there are ways to make it less foreboding. Start with scents. I don’t know about you but the smell of hospitals makes me nauseas. So I spray the sheets down with Febreeze (yes, they sell this in a travel size—Bath & Body also sells lavender linen spray.) And I also keep a small bottle of essential oils to add to my disinfecting wipes. Yes, I am that fancy. You can also add things like your own pillow case, and keep a screensaver of your dog on your laptop.

  1. Gear up. Everyone knows that the hospital is not the place one goes to get rest. Not unless you sleep best with a nurse coming into your room every ten minutes and poking you, trying to take your temperature, blood pressure, doctors coming in to see you at the crack of dawn, being told you’re being wheeled down for a test JUST as you’re about to fall into that deep sleep. The IV poles are beeping. Your roommate has this hacking cough that never ends. One of the nurses is on her phone right outside your door. How is anyone supposed to recover in this kind of atmosphere? Ear plugs. Eye masks. There’s an app from Brookstone (free) that you can download that acts as a sound soother and really helps me to sleep when I’m in need of a nap but in an unfamiliar bed. Block out that noise, don’t worry about the roommate who keeps opening the curtains and letting the sunshine in. You control the smells, the temp, the noise, the light, the germs! You’ve got this COVERED.

 

It’s always the last place you want to be, but if you have to—stock your hospital bag with the tools mentioned above to keep you comfortable, sane and maybe even on your way to healing.

 

 

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