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17 Secrets to Making Your Hospital Stay Easier

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Going to the hospital is rarely an outing to look forward to — let’s face it, it’s not the zoo or an amusement park. Still, just because hospital stays are often necessary doesn’t mean they have to be completely unpleasant.

With this in mind, The Mighty teamed up with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to ask patients what tricks or tips they use to help make their hospital stays easier.

This is what they had to say:

1. “One thing my parents did when I was a child was a bring bag of little presents, one for each day I was there. While they weren’t big items by any means, maybe a sticker book one day and a small toy the next, it gave me something to look forward to every morning during my stay.” — Julie Ovans

2. “Glow sticks for ‘glow parties’ at night!” — Tiffany Johnson

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3. “We ask if we can have the window bed if it’s open, as my son likes to watch the helicopter land and daughter likes to watch the birds.” — Lorie Crowell Doll

4. “Find out if they have a treatment room for blood draws and procedures. That way the hospital room remains a safe place for your child to rest, eat and play.” — Michelle Fornarotto Waldman

5. “Get to know the ladies who serve the food. My son was always happy with the seconds they snuck him.” — Michael Whitehead

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6. “We bring toilet paper from home if we know we’re staying for several days. It seems silly, but it’s a small comfort and that’s one less uncomfortable thing.” — Amber Walls Fosler

7. “First thing is as always, be prepared. Remember when you were around 7 months pregnant and had your bag, your soon-to-be newborn’s bag, plus probably another bag for your husband all packed and ready to go? Yeah, do that all the time, updating with favorite toys, snacks, clothes, etc. This took me a few times before I got it right, but just having a few things to comfort your family is incredibly helpful… Make it fun, try to laugh even if you don’t have it in you.” — Candi Jarocki


8. “When my son needed some testing… on his 7th birthday we had a huge roll of brown paper and taped it across the whole floor of his room. [We] bought markers and new cars and colored streets, houses and the hospital on it. He drove his cars up and down the streets to the hospital and houses and everything else drawn on it… it made it an awesome stay!” — Nichole Mae’s

9. “Get up, shower and get dressed. Every day. It helps me feel like a real person and helps to keep a sense of normality when things get turned upside down.” — Kelsey Alene Shepherd

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10. “I brought my own blow-up mattress, bedding and pillow. I bring blankets for my child and his crib mobile and things to make it feel like home.” — Steph Reitberger

11. “If hospital staff asks if you need a break and they will sit with your child, take them up on it. Then take a walk. I did this daily during our last hospital stay and it helped keep me relaxed and less stressed.” — Beth Winters

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12. “Stop thinking about home. Think of the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House — or wherever you’re staying — as home.” —  Mandie McLamarrah

13. “Refresh yourself daily with the mindset of ‘I want my child to thrive, to get better.’ That is ultimately the only thing that’s important, not, ‘When do we get to go home?’ You’ll drive yourself crazy —  it’s one of the most common things I’ve heard from parents with kids in the hospital.” — Christy Cerfus

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14. “I took daily walks outside during our three-week stay. You need to get out and breath non-hospital air once a day. While scary at first to leave our [child] behind even for a short time, I came to depend on the wonderful staff to be her guardian and keeper. They never let me down! [They] even took Polaroids if she woke up and I missed it. That time let me regroup and put things in perspective.” — Tracey Olson Rigstad

15. “I brought a dry-erase calendar and made sure every day something positive that happened was written down, whether it was a lab result, no fever, steps walked or a special visit. During long stays, the days just seem to blend into one another.” — Marc Daniloff

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16. “The nurses (and staff) are amazing and having even a few minutes of social time with them was huge for me, otherwise sometimes the only other person I had to talk to was my baby and that can be lonely.” — Brianna Miller

17. “Get to know the families around you. It helped [me] greatly.” — Andrew Court

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 *some answers have been edited for brevity

Originally published: August 25, 2015
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