What's in my (hospital) bag!

A fun! blog for once and a hark to the mainstream bloggers and Youtubers.  There are no hairbrushes or hair ties to be found in this bag and don't mistake that rogue Wrigley's Extra Spearmint for an Ondansetron tablet!  We have a routine, of course there's a routine, just before we visit the hospital whether it be a routine appointment or an admittance but you would be surprised at the amount of things you require when leaving the house and we do always like to be prepared.  I like to pack the bag as it psychologically prepares me for the daunting experience of an upcoming hospital and I think it soothes my mum's anxieties for her to know that we have everything we need and haven't forgotten anything.  Finally, these are really things that we have used when we visit the hospital.  

This is the bag that we use for day visits to the hospital for either a routine appointment or a scan. It's an old school bag of my nieces which she no longer uses and we have upcycled.  It's cheerful and reminds us of her which gives us great support in tough times.  It has a single large pocket and several smaller pockets.  More importantly, it's a great (A4) size to fit my mum's notebook containing her medical history, more on that later and my laptop.  I've previously written about how I juggle a full time job, part time caring activities and this blog.  As I work in IT, a laptop is fundamental to my work and waiting hours for an appointment means I can fit in lots of work.  NHS hospitals have now moved into the future and there is free wifi in all NHS hospitals which is actually quite good. Personally, I think it's in the hospitals interest to have free wifi as it makes the hours of waiting and delays bearable and provides a distraction to the anxiety of having your name called.   Anyway, back to the bag.
The strap is fully adjustable but it's generally me that carries the bag.  It is slightly battered given it's previous life was to carry the sticky belongings of an 8 year old and succomb to a child's destructive hands but that's reflective to the ovarian cancer journey of all the women who continue to fight the beast.

We are VERY germ-phobic.  My mum had neutropenia sepsis after chemotherapy cycle #1 and since then we have been very careful.  Chemotherapy works by killing cancerous cells within the body and shrinking tumours and lesions.  However, the treatment cannot distinguish between cancerous cells and cells that the body requires to function.  As such, white blood cells are often killed with each chemotherapy cycle and white blood cells are required to fight infections.  We've found that as my mum's neutrophil leevls decrease it takes her body longer to repair from any scrapes and cuts.  For example, she had an ascitic drain prior to her first chemotherapy cycle where a small incision is made in the abdomen, a drain inserted and fluid extracted from the abdomen.  The wound took 3 days to heal.  She had another ascitic drain after her third round of chemotherapy and the incision took 13 days to completely seal up.  To this end, we are very conscious that we don't want her to catch any coughs; colds or viruses during this vital time.  Dettol wipes are our hero.  We use them ti wipe the toilet seat, the chair she will sit in for her 7 hour chemotherapy treatment and any other occasion where we feel it is needed.

Continuing this theme of germ paranoia is antibacterial hand gel.  On entering a ward, there will be a bottle before you go on the ward, after you go on the ward, at every bed, on every table and stuck on the wall to boot.  So there is enough antibacterial hand gel on a ward to disinfect a small country of any bacteria but I still bring my own mini bottle just in case.  Because if the doctors are squirting it, then so am I!

This is for the victim of small veins.  It is horrendously difficult for the nurses to draw blood samples from my mum.  The doctors and nurses say its either because she has small veins, the chemotherapy or she just naturally has very unstable veins.  All I know is, it can take 3 tries, sometimes more before the nurses are able to get blood.  It's almost a cruel joke.  Apparently, warm veins make it easier and to this end, my mum wears gloves prior to an appointment where she knows she will need to have blood taken.  Sometimes, a warm water bath will be offered where she will dip her arm in a bowl of warm water and soak it for 15 mins.  This is a very hit and miss trick but we do what we can.  If anyone has any other tips, I would be more than happy to hear them and for my mum to give them a go as each stab of the needle is a stab to my heart to have to watch.

We also take her notebook which contains her full medical history.  Having this notebook is crucial. We have it with us all the time and would feel lost without this fountain of information to hand.  To this end, I'm going to dedicate a full blog post to THE NOTEBOOK itself later on.  It is an organisers' dream.

Finally, this is my favourite item.  It's great to have a small snack to keep the energy levels up during the long hours waiting in hospital and provides great solace after particularly difficult discussions.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post.  Let me know what you keep in your bag - hospital or otherwise.



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