As a former backpack trip leader, I’d go over the packing list with my teen participants before we headed out into the Olympic National Park. One of the things we would go over was The Ten Essentials. These are things that are generally recognized as the must haves of the camping/hiking world such as a knife, compass, first aid kit and extra food.
It is how you survive if the going gets rough.
When I think about The Ten Essentials of my regular life—my life that has integrated with my healthcare—I can think of a different list of must haves.
1. Warm Blanket– These are available in the hospital during treatments. The warm blanket wraps up anything that is freaking you out, stressing you out, pissing you off in a comforting sheet of warmth. It is without a doubt the most nurturing object in a hospital.
2. Nurses- Whether it is their attentive care or the smart ass remark they make, nurses are the human version of the warm blanket.
3. A sense of humor-some of the things that will happen with your doctors will be hilarious. Don’t miss that because you are so busy “being sick” that you can’t laugh at the insanity that you life has become.
4. Friends who remember– These are the little things. My best friend tries very hard to remember when my doctor appointments or infusions are. She doesn’t come to these with me, but she tries to text and check-in. Friends who remember are essential while you are trying to act like visiting the hospital this often is “normal.” Which it is not.
5. Perspective– Remember that other people often have it worse than you do.
6. Permission-Remember that even though #5 is true, that doesn’t make your suffering less valid. Pain is pain. Struggle is struggle. You are allowed to have a crappy day, even if someone else had a crappier one.
7. Music-Have something to listen to that makes you want to a) sing along and/or b)dance. I like musicals, but whatever revs your engine.
8. “I’d still like you” people– You should have people who like you even if you are venting, ranting, swearing and storming. These are the people who will not judge you when you pitch a fit. They will be glad you called them. They will not make you feel like you need to say, “Sorry I went off about that.”
9. Something good to drink-Coke Slurpee, coffee, tea, wine, whatever. Have something you enjoy. This drink should be the warm blanket of the beverage world.
10. A flashlight-cause that’s always a good idea.