What to take to a hospital/doctors appointment: the 7 essentials you’ll be glad you packed

TurningTrailBlazerSmallIs it a routine check up that’s giving you the jitters or are you struggling with a hard case of the wait-and-see’s while you wait for test results?

Hospitals can be hard, especially when you are ill. I know they are there to help us but they are often places where painful things happen, or where we’ve received difficult news. No matter how many times an appointment goes well, we always remember the ones we got bad news in.

I was at the doctors last week and felt anxious as soon as we were in the doors. It was the smell of the place that reminded me of every other hospital I’ve been in (and there have been far too many). It’s like in the dentist, I don’t mind the dentists themselves but all the posters of rotting teeth around the waiting room just freak me out. Instead of sitting there reading leaflets of cancer symptoms and staring at posters about yellow fever on the waiting room wall, let’s take things we actually need!

So how can we pack ourselves a practical bag of comfort?

If you haven’t been before you might want to check this list before you turn up with just your smart phone and nothing else.

If you are an appointment veteran check in anyway because I’ve canvased some of the smartest wellness warriors in the business for their input!


books1. Distraction: You might be waiting a long time. I know your appointment card said 2.30pm but it’s not great to count on that. Bring something with you, anything to save you from the old magazines!

Take a book, something easy and comforting; this isn’t the time to try and impress all those in view of your book spine. I recommend P.G Wodehouse, H.E Bates, Richmal Crompton, Bill Bryson or EF. Benson

If you can’t concentrate on a book, try a book of poems or something spiritually uplifting.

An iPod is invaluable, if you are waiting for your appointment in pain, I recommend listening to BreathworksTerri Cole or Sue Weston meditations on it.

Snacks are also recommended here, I don’t eat before appointments except for green juice but Twinkle Twinkle said taking sweets made the appointment fly by. Perhaps this is a place for yummy courgette crisps, spiced sunflower seeds or a little box of blueberries?


work2. Work: If a book won’t engage you work might. Something with meaning, a tangible reminder of your life and your usefulness outside the hospital.

If you don’t have a project, we need card makers, letter writers and Healing Helpers for our Healing Boxes Treasure Chest. Remind yourself of all that is waiting for you and that you have people plotting your escape plan if need be.

index_cards3. Notepad and Index Cards: It can help to take a short list of your main points to help you remember because it’s so easy to forget what you wanted to say once you get into the surgery. However, doctors are rushed, and if you turn up with a notepad and the doctor sees you pull that out, it’s likely their heart will sink as they imagine you have a huge list to try and fit into a tiny appointment. That’s not the best use of anyone’s time. So, prioritise your problems and don’t try to cover more than 3 at maximum at one time. If there are more, briefly mention this and ask about booking another appointment.

How do we write things down and still stop the doctor thinking you are reading out a huge list? Ah hah, that is where our friends the index cards come in. If you write down your notes on an index card or post card the doctor can see you aren’t bringing every ache you’ve ever had into the appointment and is much more likely to work with you.

The notepad I said you should bring, that’s to be kept closed on your lap and used to take notes when there’s anything the doctor says which you don’t understand, ask them to repeat it or write it down so you can find out about it later. If there’s anything that you need to do, (re-book at reception for a blood test for example), write it down so you don’t forget to do it. You can also use it to keep a list of all your current diagnosis and drugs.

Index cards for your notes, notebook to record the doctors’.

The dictaphone app on your phone is also useful to record instructions, as is an iPad for a notebook and for waiting room distraction! (Thank you Claire for the tip).

IMG_21524. Palm Stone: It helps to have something to hold into, especially during tests or scary times. Palm stone, worry stone, your crystal, a photo of someone you love, the hand of your friend. Whatever you need, take it. We sell beautiful palm stones in Healing Boxes if you would like one.


Dragon_35. Clothes: Yes, I know it’s useful to take clothes and not turn up naked (although wouldn’t that liven up the waiting room?) but what I mean is, what should you wear? Firstly wear nice underwear because you don’t want to be wearing old things if you have to have an exam, and exams can happen in appointments you really didn’t think they would (I speak from experience here).

If possible choose a bra that slips on with no metal in it – Kris Carr recommends a sports bra for scans. If you pick a normal bra with no under wiring and the only metal being the catches at the back you might just be asked to undo it and tuck the metal to your sides – it depends on the scan. If in doubt, ask when you book the scan.

Take a scarf as hospitals and waiting rooms are often colder than you think. Pick a beautiful outfit, something that makes you feel good. Why not? No difficult situation was ever improved by being badly dressed.


oil6. Hand sanitizer: If you have immune issues you might want to consider this. I know it’s controversial. But I use this sanitizer and I’m happy with my choice. Having lived with an immune condition which meant catching a cold could set me back for months we have been careful to avoid infection. Unfortunately there are still people who turn up to their G.Ps looking for antibiotics for the common cold and I don’t especially want to get sick because they were confused about what antibiotics do and don’t do. Essential oils especially (diluted) lemongrass and oregano oil are thought to be effective too but do your research and make your own decisions – these are just what I choose.  

Abergavenny landscape7. Plans for Adventure: Hospital appointments are rarely fun, and looking forward to them is never so. Here’s how we deal with the upcoming anxiety; we plan that the day is an adventure day. Perhaps we are going to the library, or to explore a new town, or on a photography wheelchair tip, or home to watch films and listen to audio books curled up on the biomat all day. Sure, we just have to call in quickly to the hospital or the doctor’s surgery first, but the focus of the day is the fun we have planned. It means you know the appointment will end and gives you something to look forward to past it.

What are your tips? Come and share them on the Sick Chick to Trail Blazers’ Facebook Page.


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Photo Credit: 1236, all others grace quantock.