A roundup of the best non-flower gifts for hospital patients
If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, you know I’ve battled life-threatening illness for –yikes!– almost 25 years now. Back in college, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and it blew up quickly. I lost my large intestine, spent many, many weeks in the hospital, and lived with an ileostomy for four years before I had intestinal reconstruction to fancy my small intestine into something resembling a colon. The illness was so severe, it triggered other auto-immune problems. I’ve also had a third of my right lung removed due to recurrent, almost-always-near-fatal pneumonias. Over the past two decades I’ve lost track of my hospitalizations. Flu, pneumonia, intestinal blockages, random infections, you name it, I get it and I end up in ICU.
To sum, I’m something of a hospital expert. So when I saw an article recently on the best non-flower gifts to bring to hospital patients, I had lots of opinions on what they got wrong. A book? You don’t feel well enough in a hospital to read a whole book. Fuzzy socks? Egads, I’d slip on that Lysol-waxed floor. So here are some suggestions on practical gifts to bring to hospital patients from your hospital expert. If you share my expertise, feel free to add your own suggestions!
Ultimately, think about making the patient more comfortable in a place that is horribly uncomfortable. Being in the hospital stinks. Really stinks. So any tiny little thing can make a bit of difference. Keep in mind items like bath robes or pajamas are nice, in theory, to combat the dreaded gown, but most likely the patient will be hooked to an IV and can not wear those items. (Hence the gowns with snaps.)
(These are affiliate links, by the way, the images are from amazon. But these items should be available at grocery and drug stores.)
- EAR PLUGS! The best gift idea for the hospital ever. I always bring a pair. It doesn’t shut out the hospital noises, and you’re going to be woken up every two hours anyway, but it helps. And eye mask might be nice too.
- Head band or elastics. For those with longer hair, these are handy to keep your hair back as you will, of course, not be washing it for as long as you’re doing time.
- Toiletries. If the patient left home in an emergency, he or she may not have had time to pack these essentials, and hospital brands just don’t cut it. A hair brush, deodorant, razors, nail clippers, normal soap (as in, not the hospital brand), toothbrushes and toothpaste, and face moisturizers are the best.
- Mouthwash. Especially if the patient is unable to eat, the mouth feels yucky.
- Slippers. Although the hospital does provide those non-slip socks, slip-on slippers are nice too.
- Pillows. Hospital pillows (and mattresses for that matter, but that may be too hard to bring) are rubber for easy cleaning. But that means lots and lots of night sweats when you are sick and it’s no fun at all. A real pillow to put behind your back is great.
- Magazines. I rarely even feel up to reading magazines when I’m in the hospital, but these are much easier to flip through than books, so it’s an idea.
- Video games. They may be able to play on their own devices, but handheld, mindless games are a good way to pass the time. As I said, you don’t feel like reading much, but do get bored.
- Granola bars and grapes. The food in hospitals is as you’ve heard: Meh. So snacks are appreciated. But before you bring in snacks, make sure your patient can eat a full diet! They may be NPO (nothing by mouth) or on a liquid or full liquid diet. Bringing food to a person who is hungry but can’t eat will most definitely NOT be a comfort.
- Tissues. Hospital tissues are like cardboard. Really.
- Toilet paper. Think the tissues are cardboard?
- Handmade cards. You can’t go wrong with some homemade hospital decor to pin on the walls.
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