Plan for the Unexpected: How to Make Your Child’s Short-Term Hospital Stay Easier on Everyone

Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of having one of my children admitted to the hospital.  I won’t give you too many of the gory details, but basically my 2 year old was afflicted with a horrendous, yet common, virus that left her dangerously dehydrated in a relatively short period of time.  We were admitted to the hospital so she could receive IV fluids until her levels came up.

When we realized we were getting admitted, there was a whole stressful flurry of activity: making plans for our older child at home (thanks, grandma and grandpa!), getting a change of clothes (for me, paper scrubs from the hospital), and figuring out what we could eat for dinner (a Twix bar).  It occurred to me in the midst of all this that, for our family, at least, a hospital admission isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Both my kids have asthma and oddly sensitive systems that have required countless emergency room visits.

And that’s when I realized that there were things that I could do to “prepare” for this emergency.

At Home, keep in a folder:

  • List of important phone numbers
  • Household calendar & kids’ schedules to help whoever is watching the kids at home
  • List of medications for all family members
  • Take-out menus and phone numbers
  • At least 3 freezer meals ready to throw in the oven

Pack in a Bag:

  • simple change of clothes for each family member (anything is better than those paper pants you get at the Emergency Department — trust me!)
  • a few books and comfort objects for the ill child
  • a few magazines for the parents
  • an envelope with at least $20 cash in small bills for parking and vending machines
  • list of child’s current medications and medical history
  • bottled water
  • granola bars
  • list of important phone numbers

Of course, if you have a iPhone, iPad, or other techy device, you can put all the phone numbers and medications on there. While you’re at it, download some kid’s books and apps and a magazine or two for yourself.

It will be infinitely easier to grab the bag (kept in the back of a closet) and go, rather than throwing things in the car on the way to the hospital. I know I have my bag packed for “next time.”  If I don’t ever need it, wonderful. But if I do, at least that will be a little less energy to expend on something other than helping my child heal.

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