May 3, 2018
Hospital Chic, the art of looking like you’ve got your s#*t together!
I have been to more hospital appointments and admissions than I can remember!
This post is all about some of my must have essentials for outpatient hospital visits and stays. My advice comes from learning the hard way. My moments of wanting the ground to open up have been the inspiration for this post!
Comfort and style
Try to wear a combination of smart, casual and comfortable. If you look good you will feel stronger, you will feel in charge!
Smart in the sense that you look like you mean business.
In the past, I have felt incredibly small and weak in a few awful hospital appointments. I now go with my power shoulders on. I make sure I look like I am not taking any shit!
Look good feel better
Now, I don’t mean go to hospital in your office power suit. You don’t need to look like you are off to a conference, well you can if you like! I am talking about smart/casual, trying not to look vulnerable or unprepared.
Wearing your Pyjamas under your coat, looking like you haven’t washed your hair and like you just crawled out of bed will give the impression that you aren’t trying.
Pain and fatigue
I know how hard it is to get up and out the house for hospital appointments. I know how painful it can be to travel, I have been there. It takes so much energy to make yourself look presentable. I know what it feels like when doctors look down on you through pitiful eyes. I know how it feels when doctors accuse you of not pushing yourself hard enough! Sadly looking like you are trying as hard as you can to function, wrongly often makes the appointment much more positive.
People with chronic illness and pain shouldn’t have to hide how they feel. This is especially true when we are feeling really ill. It is a sad fact that people often make their first judgement of you from the moment you walk through their door.
Sadly often the way you are treated is a reflection of how you present as a person.
Looking like you are the boss and being a boss puts you in charge. You know your body better than anyone.
If you look good, you will feel good. You will have more faith in yourself. Believe that you deserve nothing but the best, you must never settle for less.
Know your rights
If you feel you have been treated badly or misunderstood by a medical professional know your rights. It is your right to report the problem to your hospitals patient liaison service. In the UK we have PALS and if you are really unhappy with your care, the Care Quality Commision (CQC)
You also have the right to speak to your GP. Ask them to refer you to someone else or to a different hospital.
If that little voice inside is telling you something isn’t quite right, listen to it! That voice is your instinct. Mine has never been wrong! I eventually got the correct answers and care.
Comfort must always come first! You may have to travel far away for your hospital appointment. Hospitals are also often hot and stuffy so you need layers light enough to carry around.
You may have to sit and wait for your appointment, lets face it, hospitals never run on time!
There may be a chance that you are required to strip off during your hospital appointment. You may need to be examined or to put a gown on, so you need clothes that are easy to remove and put back on again.
Try to never forget matching half decent underwear! Choose underwear that doesn’t look like its been with you since you first started wearing bras! Knowing you aren’t wearing baggy, off white, greying knickers will make you feel far less vulnerable and exposed.
You don’t need to spend hours getting ready for your hospital appointment. It is surprising how much you can dress up a pair of Converse and jeans with a pretty necklace and blazer!
You can add a bit of style and glamour to any outfit by picking the right layers and accessories.
I have sourced some ideal “hospital chic” looks for hospital visits. These looks combine comfort, style and light layering.
Hospital bag essentials
The next thing to think about is your bag and what to take with you.
I have an A4 folder that accompanies me to every hospital visit. My bag is full of all my most recent hospital letters and test results, these are also filed in date order.
I have learnt time and time again, hospitals rarely communicate between each other. Quite often it is down to you, the patient to explain what has been going on. Keeping everything together, makes the process much easier. This also saves you from forgetting any key details about your recent health issues or pain. Having all your information puts you in control, nobody can argue when the facts are there in front of them in black and white.
A good book or magazine
A good book or magazine is a must! I love taking something like Marie Claire as it’s full of lots of enjoyable content. This magazine is also thick enough to last the never ending wait in the hospital waiting rooms. I also love any books by Lesley Pearse. Lesley brings her characters to life and the stories have me gripped from start to finish. Once I have started, I can’t put the book down. My favourite books to date have been Belle and Remember Me
I always take my lip balm, hospital air really dries my lips out. My trusted lip companion is always Carmex Cherry Lip Balm . I love the refreshing menthol tingle and this always soothes my lips in an instant.
I also like to take a decent hand cream. That hospital medicated soap and hand gel 100% destroys your skin! I swear by Nivea SOS Balm Rescue and Care Hand Cream. This cream is so soothing and leaves a silky barrier on the skin.
The most cringeworthy hospital experience, EVER!
I always, without fail take a few VERY important items with me after the worst most cringeworthy experience two years ago!
There have been the odd occasions where I have ended up being admitted to hospital straight from an outpatient appointment. This is fine if it is my local hospital as it’s only 15 minutes away. However, more frequently I am having to travel to hospitals over an hour away.
Cringing in Cambridge
Two years ago on one of the hottest days of the year, I had a hospital appointment in Cambridge.
I had gone to hospital by myself which is fine but I was having to use my wheelchair. I asked for help to get the wheelchair out of my boot because I find it too heavy to lift. Then I wheeled myself, boiling hot and exhausted from the self propelling to my hospital appointment.
The pain was severe and I wasn’t feeling well at all. I was covered in a bright red rash and felt like I was on fire. My Pain Physiotherapist took one look at me and sent me up to Accident and Emergency.
Hot and bothered
It was so hot and I was sweaty and completely bedraggled. I had got to the hospital at 11am and by 7pm, I was a starving, thirsty, loosing the will to live sweaty mess of a women!
They decided to keep me in over night to be monitored. By the time I got to the ward it was midnight and I went into a little side room. I had already been in the hospital for over 13 hours!
No phone charger so no communication with the outside world nothing to eat or drink all day. It was the hottest day of the year so I felt so dehydrated.
Eventually the lovely nurse brought me a sandwich and a yoghurt in. The only sandwich they had left was a corned beef one. I hate corned beef with a passion, what on earth is it? It smells like dog food and don’t get me started on the white crud all over it?! I couldn’t stomach it so basically all I ate that day was two bits of limp bread! My poor tummy was rumbling!
The worst part of that horrendous night was not having anything to wash with. I also had no pyjamas. All I had was the sweaty and horrible clothes I had been sat in all day!
I had to wear two hospital gowns to sleep in. I put one the right way round and the other back to front to hide the split at the back that shows your bum off! Well if you have ever tried to sleep in these things, you will know they itch and half strangle you every time you move in the bed. If you don’t keep them tied up to avoid said strangulation, you wake up to one boob hanging out, or worse!
Stiff knickers and a crunchy vest
This next part is so cringe worthy but needs must!
I couldn’t bare the thought of wearing dirty knickers the next day. So thinking I was being savvy, I washed the ones I had on, in the medicated hand soap!
The thought of that night is already making me break out in a cold sweat!!
Clumsy as I am, I had accidently tipped a hospital cup of tea down the front of my fresh white vest! There was nothing else for it, that had to be washed too. Hospital tea stains like no other liquid on earth!
Now, that hospital medicated soap makes your hands dry and sore so imagine what it does to your clothes! Not a good look and not comfortable at all!
Think stiff knickers and a crunchy vest! Rustle, rustle every time I moved! I really don’t recommend cardboard underwear to anyone!!
When I had a shower in the morning, I had no other choice than to wash my hair with the shower gel in the shower. Just for the record, this is as bad as the medicated soap! I tried to freshen myself up as much as possible.
Putting the hand sanitizing gel under my arms for deodorant, I discovered that this stuff stings!! OUCH, especially if your armpits are freshly shaved!
My hair dried in a crunchy 80’s perm style fashion and I felt horrendous. I am just grateful to the nurse for giving me some toothpaste and a disposable toothbrush! My fresh teeth meant everything that morning!!
After I was discharged, I couldn’t even do a fast walk of shame to get myself out sharpish. I had to do a slow wheel of shame in my wheelchair through the busiest and most populated part of the hospital. Wheeling myself through the food court as fast as my arms would wheel me to get to my car! Flashbacks raced through my mind from my youth. I could remember the times when I used to party all night and then make my way home, it was cool then but this was far from cool. It was horrendous and from that day on, I vowed I would always be prepared!
I now ALWAYS take clean underwear, a spare top, deodorant, a hairbrush, small makeup bag, my phone charger, book/magazine, lip balm, hand cream, a couple of cereal bars and a bottle of water!
I am never being caught short again!
I hope this post has given you some handy tips, tricks and made you giggle.
REMEMBER, preparation is winning!