Supplies for the Battlefield
Special Note: I understand that if you’re airlifted without notice, these aren’t options, BUT your friends should be able to help you. Hint for friends and family – you can provide supplies and actually deliver on the, “if there is anything I can do” offer.
Camera: Your child deserves to have baby pictures, even if they’re scary pictures. And God-forbid, if your baby doesn’t make it, you deserve those pictures too. If anyone says anything to you about this, you go to my blog at http://www.amandaroseadams.com and find the “Photo Rant” post and send it to them. Let NO ONE make you feel bad about photographing your child; it’s photojournalism mixed with primal love.
CarePages: http://www.carepages.com – it’s free, it’s easy, and it prevents you from having to update everyone on the phone. Also, it’s slightly more private than Facebook, and you’re less likely to get flamed by some unfeeling jerk for expressing what you’re really feeling. If that happens you can delete them!
Change: For the soda and snack machines when the cafeteria is closed. I recommend a roll of quarters.
Clothes: Sure, you want to pack light, but when and where are you going to do laundry? Bring more underwear than you think you’ll need and some extra t-shirts. Just because you’re trapped doesn’t mean you should be uncomfortable.
Contact List: Anyone you might possibly need to call about a pet, a sprinkler system, or if the worst thing happens, so you can hand it to someone else and you won’t have to give bad news to anyone yourself.
Entertainment: Be it trashy magazines, Sodoku, or crossword puzzles, or just an iPad (wish we’d had that in 2006), get yourself something to play with that isn’t War and Peace.
Eye mask/Ear Plugs: I once spent eighteen hours in a window bed listening to the two most annoying human beings on the planet, and when they finally fell asleep the snoring, if you can call it that, it was beyond description. Sleep deprivation is inevitable on the battlefront, so give yourselves whatever comfort you can find.
Face cloths: Get yourself some nice disposable facial washcloths you can put in a baggie. You will feel so much better if you can just go wash your face with something soft that smells good.
Friend/Family Right Hand: Someone you trust to update your Carepage for you when you can’t do it yourself for whatever reason. Someone who will rally the troops for support when you need it or tell people to stay away because of infection risks, etc. Your bodyguard who will also feed your husband when he refuses to eat.
Fruit: Not only is it good for you, but it will remind you that there is life beyond Snickers bars and light beyond the florescent glare of your time in the hospital.
Gum: Lest you be tempted to make too many trips to the candy machine.
Insurance details: Some of the larger insurers have a special program for CHD. Call yours right away to find out if they do and get in touch with a nurse coordinator as soon as possible. Some of these programs will provide reimbursement for shelter and food when you are displaced for optimal care. They can also, typically, give you statistics from the hospitals you’re considering regarding volume of patients treated and morbidity rates.
Lotion (good stuff): There will be blood—on your knuckles—from all the hand-washing. You will wash your hands because you do not want your baby to die from a senseless infection, and your hands will crack and bleed and hurt, but you will keep washing them. Get some Crabtree & Evelyn or Burt’s Bees, or some such gardener quality salve for your hands. Share with your nurses too!
Music: A mobile or other musical toy will be worth its weight in gold to soothe your baby and your own soul.
Nail clippers: The hospital can open your child’s chest, replace all of their blood, and save their life, but they cannot and will not clip his finger nails. I have no explanation for this, but you will need some baby scissors or small nail clippers.
Notebook: Get yourself a nice one with lots of pockets to keep things you’re given. Take notes and log your questions for follow up. Put pretty stickers on it to make you smile. You can also vent your frustrations or write out things before you post them for the world to see or say something you might regret later.
Pen: See Notebook.
Slippers: I remember my sensible tennis shoes digging into my feet and me loosening the laces. I wished, every time I went, that I had slippers, and then never remembered to bring some. You really can’t go barefoot, so get yourselves some nice slippers.
Snacks: There is only so much candy machine you should and can consume. Bring some of your own favorite comfort foods.
Sweater/Sweatshirt: You will get cold.
Tissues: GOOD ones. You’re going to miss home and miss comfort, so get yourself a big box of Puffs or Kleenex, because the sandpaper available to you in the hospital might cut your skin, but it’s not going to ‘cut it’ for your face. Take your comforts where you can.
Toys: For surgeries after the age of two months distractions are needed.
Watch: Just in case a clock isn’t readily viewable. And it helps with your notebook.