Hospital Packing – Packing for Chemo, Emergency and Longer Stays

I recently published a cancer update video where I talked about what happens when Chemo goes wrong – with a live demonstration! My temperature was high so I went through the process of calling the Acute Oncology Number and hospital packing to go to A&E (Accident & Emergency, or Emergency Department depending on what country or hospital you go to)!

I’ve written lists for things to pack for A&E, for when you’re admitted and finally a quick list for what to take to chemo. Sometimes you’ll be admitted without doing the A&E process so you’ll be able to pack for yourself, but it might be that you have to have a family member or friend pack for you and bring items to you in the hospital.

By the way, if you’d like a super fast temperature checker like mine (rather than the one they give you which takes about two minutes to work) I can recommend the one I have: Amir Forehead and Ear Thermometer for around £20 *UK Link https://amzn.to/2H0yb5F or $26 *US Link https://amzn.to/2H0yk9d
*Prices correct when I added the links, I use affiliate links meaning you don’t pay any extra but I may earn a small commission.

Packing for an Emergency Visit

PLEASE DON’T BE FOOLISH – if your emergency is time critical don’t bother packing just go!! When you do have time, heres my packing for A&E list:

  • 24 hours worth of medicines
  • A picture of your medicines, with their boxes, or a list of medication with doses and frequency showing
  • Food (especially if you need to take medicines with food)
  • Water
  • Entertainments – a book, your phone etc
  • Phone and charger
  • Your purse/wallet/ID and any travel cards you might need
  • A small overnight pack with
    • underwear
    • toothbrush
    • toothpaste
    • deodorant
    • specialist shower equipment i.e. a PICC line cover
    • thick warm socks or slipper socks
  • If you have a Hickman or PICC line pack dressings for your line – different brands use different pads/plasters/covers and the hospital or ward you go to may not have the correct equipment.
  • A coat – you might be leaving the hospital a long time after arriving so don’t be fooled by sunny weather right now

Packing for Hospital Admission (Staying on a ward)

I pack as light as I can BUT with the assumption that I will be admitted. I want to have the basics should I need to stay in hospital. Regarding clothing – the hospital will provide you with gowns so I’d recommend wearing them. Change out of your clothes and put them to one side. When you get discharged you put those same clothes on for leaving. This way you don’t need a huge suitcase of clothing and you don’t need to worry about laundry. The only exception for me personally is that its nice to have some comfortable pyjama bottoms, especially if you are walking around the ward to get some exercise. Figure out if you can get them washed by friends and family who visit.

As well as everything I mentioned to pack for an Emergency, for an admission I also pack:

  • Items for the shower
    • More Line Dressings
    • Shampoo/Conditioner (If you have hair!)
    • Soaps
    • Razor
  • Items for personal grooming
    • Hairbrush and accessories, bobbles etc (if you have hair!)
    • Hairdryer, straiteners
    • A small mirror
    • Make up/Skin care
    • Nail kit
    • Perfume/Cologne
  • Accessories to make you feel a bit more presentable
    • jewellery
    • hair caps/wigs
    • scarves – I bring large scarves that I can drape over me to wander around the ward or to the cafe, and also I drape them over the bed as blankets to make my little space feel more personal
  • Comfort
    • Squash/Favourite Drinks
    • Pillow
    • Blankets from home *or see my note about scarves above
    • Slippers, slipper socks or shoes. Don’t ever walk around with bare feet!!
  • Clothing
    • Its up to you – I only really bring a few pj bottoms but I’m quite comfortable hanging around in NHS gowns. Just remember that you need to think about laundry, you need to be comfortable, and you need to be able to remove whatever clothing is necessary for the doctors and nurses to do their jobs easily.

Packing for Chemotherapy

My final list is what I pack when going to chemo:

  • Book/Entertainments
  • Phone and charger
  • Purse/Wallet/ID/Travelcard
  • Tissues (for chemo that makes your nose run)
  • Drinks and Snacks (for chemo that makes your mouth taste funny)
  • Warm socks
  • Photo of the counter-side-effects drugs you have remaining. For example if you have enough anti-sickness drugs left over from your last cycle you can show the nurses so that they can just give you what you need for this cycle.
  • Your appointment card/hospital paperwork

I hope these lists are useful to you – please leave a comment if you can think of stuff I’ve missed out or if you have top tips for other readers!

Kim Debling is a Hampshire, UK based designer and Director of her own company Kestrel Design Ltd. She is mum to Rose and Harvey and wife to her best friend Steve.  She’s fighting off Stage 4 Lymphoma and sharing her story along the way, mainly via YouTube. Kim is passionate about being happy, mental wellbeing and in particular art and creative pursuits as therapy during tough times. She teaches online at Udemy, has published books and has art and printables available for sale.

Hospital Packing – what to take for Emergency, Admission and Chemo was last modified: April 1st, 2018 by Kim Debling