I recently spent my first night in hospital. Since it was planned (not an emergency), I had time to map out my packing strategy. I had a medium canvas zipper pouch from Lands End, and it (in true HGTV House Hunter fashion) “checked all the boxes” for an Urban Survivor Bag (USB). Here are my essential items for the USB (* indicates those items I realized I needed as I was in hospital):

  • Lip balm
  • Lipstick
  • Driver’s license/health insurance card
  • Pen
  • Tissue
  • Body lotion
  • $20 cash
  • Chewing gum/candy
  • Tiny round mirror
  • Hairclip
  • Reading glasses
  • Alcohol wipe (for electronics or glasses)
  • Battery charger for iPhone and Apple Watch, charging cable
  • Ear buds (leave AirPods at home, too easy to lose and cost too much $$ to replace)
  • Ear plugs*
  • Eye drops*
  • Sleeping mask*

Why do you need a USB? These days every patient is a “fall risk” festooned with bright yellow socks and an alarm that goes off if you try to get off the bed or chair without a nurse’s assistance. You might be fortunate to have a visitor or maybe a family member guilt-tripped into helping out during your stay in our healthcare industrial complex. I didn’t necessarily want to bother a visitor with my pesky demands such as “plug this in”. I’d rather have exactly what I needed within my own grasp (it could very well be a control issue.) I am also not comfortable with my pricey iPhone charging clear across the room or dangling precariously on a short cord. It’s very easy to lose things in hospital. I speak from experience—I somehow lost my iPhone cable within seconds of moving from the bed to the recliner. See photo of crime scene below. 🕵🏻‍♀️ (The staff looked for this critical cable in my backpack, my old sheets, under the hospital bed, under the chair, etc. When I arrived home, I opened the blue folder, and there it was. Oops!)

Further, when you are admitted to hospital, they give you a white paper bag for your family members to drag around from the waiting room to the cafeteria and back to the waiting room. It contains whatever you wore before surgery, including your shoes. I took a small backback (my FjallRaven Kanken Classic in Sand) to the hospital with me and made sure there was room for all items I was wearing as well as comfortable clothes for physical therapy. My husband was instructed to put the white bag items into the backpack so he only had to keep track of the backpack. Despite pre-planning, I ended up with both bags in the hospital room upon checkout. While I waited for my discharge papers, I emptied the white bag and the attendant, James, must have felt like it was a major breach of hospital protocol. James kept looking for the white bag as if it had been left behind by mistake. I assured him it was empty, even the white iPhone cable wasn’t in it (that would be discovered at home later).

I have been called “particular” (not peculiar) with how I want things organized. I thought I would take the time to document this process in case anyone else finds it useful. Many of my friends and family were last admitted to the hospital when they had their most recent baby, but let’s be honest that was a long time ago. You probably haven’t been a patient since you had your electronic addiction or your latest iPhone. Maybe “BedBag” is a better name..

(I provided a link above for the backpack because several family members were making a fuss over it. It must be the Swedish name.)