Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Style Clinic

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag…..

It’s been a rough end of the year. Mrs. E’s father had a series of small strokes that finally took their toll and left him in a very confused and weakened state. He spent about five weeks in hospital and rehabilitation before he was allowed to return home.

Needless to say, the family rallied to help cover those hours between nurses’ shifts and overnights when no one was available. You know, in between regular jobs and home life. It was a Pyrrhic victory.

Burning the candle at both ends isn’t a great idea. Throw in an immunocompromised system and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Which is why I started penning this on my phone whilst Mrs. E sleeps off the small dose of opioid necessary for the procedure to implant the trifuse jugular catheter so that we can start to clean her antibodies. Plasmapheresis I think it’s called. Severe anaemia brought on by a virus and her CAD/CLL. First transfusion didn’t work.*

That’s all a boring and too long introduction to the question of what to pack as a guest of the patient for an extended hospital stay.

This article is based strictly on what I did wrong and what I’d do differently.

What I did wrong: pack a “go-bag” instead of a “stay bag.”

I grabbed my Osprey Daylight pack and stuffed it with a book, extra long charging cable, extra battery pack/charger, protein bar, water bottle, flashlight, metal bodied pen and notebook, and Ricola cough drops.

Showered, shaved and dressed in: jeans with a bit of stretch, Chelsea boots with lug soles, merino wool socks,merino wool boxer briefs, merino wool t-shirt and a cotton cable knit sweater. A Barbour Lowsdale gilet topped it off. Highs in the 50s, low mid 30s, Fahrenheit.

It was 10 am Thursday, and we headed for the ER for what the doc explained would be a 4-6 hour transfusion.

Ten in the morning on a Thursday and it seemed like everyone in town headed for the ER. It would be the next Tuesday before she was discharged.

So what was so wrong about my packing? I could head home to shower and change once a day. The hospital is temperature controlled, if a bit chilly. I even had a fold out lounge chair to sleep on.


I packed for action. I should have packed for comfort. Lug soled boots? Belgians or indoor/outdoor slippers or camp mocs with my sheepskin inserts would have been comfortable and easy to slip on and off as needed. I certainly did not want to step a stockinged foot onto the floor. The nurses confirmed my skepticism.

My “foundation garments” as the distaff call them, worked well. I highly recommend merino boxers, socks and both long-sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts. Naturally antimicrobial, anti-odor, thermo-regulating, merino base layers can be worn for a few days in a row without discomfort or offending one’s sense of smell.

What to do about trousers? The stretch denim trousers did well enough. And I wasn’t worried about throwing them in the wash as soon as I got home. Other choices would be the stretch yoga/hiking pants like pRana, Columbia, etc. make.

The sweater. My cotton cable knit sweater was warm enough with the merino t underneath it and stretched out a bit over the first two days. It was ok. In hindsight, I should have chosen a sweat shirt or a merino or cashmere sweater as they make softer pillows than the chunky cabled cotton. Also to be taken into consideration, is leaving to re-kit yourself. It was significantly colder when I stepped outside, even with the gilet. As I had no need of a longer overcoat to double as a blanket, a lightweight, packable puffer jacket would have taken up very little space and been warmer overall. 

One maxim taken from the outdoor adventuring and military personnel I know holds fast: pack an extra pair of socks and a few personal hygiene items. I hadn’t expected us to stay in the hospital overnight. Mrs. E was given a toothbrush and some toiletries. I was on my own and there wasn’t a pharmacy/drug store/convenience store on the medical campus the way that there had been when I was growing up. Chuck in a pair of socks,a sleep mask, toothbrush and a comb, it’s good for morale.

*The first four transfusions didn’t work, but the valiant staff managed to keep Mrs. E. from the ICU, Thankfully Plasmapheresis was avoided and the fifth transfusion took hold enough to bring her haemoglobin levels up enough to be deemed “stable.”

Brands to rely on mentioned in this article. (I get no compensation or recognition for writing about them. These are the brands I use and trust to see me through all sorts of situations, everyday to eventful day. A lot of this can be found on sale, through amazon, REI, eBay, etc. . Worth a look!)

Unbound Merino (long sleeve t’s and boxer briefs – be forewarned the boxers don’t have a fly.)

Icebreaker (t-shirts)

Ridge Merino (boxer briefs with a fly, far preferable in my opinion.)

Darn Tough Socks

Origins Jeans

LL Bean Camp Mocs

pRana Zion/Columbia Silver Ridge hiking pants or the like.

Sweaters (I’ve been using ¼ zip cheap-on-sale merino wool from Hart, Schaffener & Marx, and Jos. A. Banks. They will pill.)

Barbour Lowsdale Gilet

Osprey Daylite pack

Uniqlo (cheap ultra-light down jacket)

3 thoughts on “Style Clinic

  1. I hope everything works out.

    No one ever knows what to bring to the hospital. You learn what to bring. And even then, well you know what they say happens when even the best laid plans encounter reality.

    I treasure your posts, and just want you to know how much I enjoy them.

  2. Hello my friend. Good to see a post despite the topic. I’m glad she pulled through ok. I agree with your list. When my wife was ill I had to also get used to the idea of my going home to sleep. I felt guilty at first but after a little while I realized that having two of us run down and possibly ill was not an advantage.

    Prayers to you both.


  3. Wishing you the best in the upcoming days ahead. Hospitals don’t seem to understand that patients like and need family and friends around. I always enjoy your writing, regardless of the topics. Hoping all is well for your wife, and father.

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