I know there are a couple of readers who are facing the PICU experience in the near future so I thought I would share what has helped me. Here are the top ten items I will be taking with me for my next PICU experience:
1. My Hospital Bible. When Kaylee was in hospital I would read two psalms, a chapter of Proverbs, Matthew chapter 6, John chapter 14 and Romans chapter 8 every day (I still do most days!) and it carried me through. There are all sorts of underlinings and comments in the margins of that Bible.
2. My breast pump. I have a small, portable electric breast pump that I bought from Nursing Angel. Being able to use it anywhere is a big bonus as I didn't always want to use the expressing rooms and seeing as Kaylee is now permanently hosting a colony of antibiotic resistant bacteria thanks to one of her hospital grade infections I can't use a hospital pump at her bedside or anywhere else where she has her nappy changed. Being able to pump in my room just before I sleep and just after I wake up also makes life easier.
3. My MP3 player. Being able to listen to music such as Josh Garrels was a huge lift to me. Especially on days when I had loud room mates to contend with or I just needed to zone.
4. My netbook. Writing is my therapy and being able to plug in to the internet for research and communication with a wireless broadband stick (I bought mine from Family Resources at the hospital and paid much less than retail) was a great boon.
5. My mobile phone. I hate mobile phones and didn't own one until the night before I flew out with Kaylee for the first time. I still hate them, but I recognise they have their uses.
6. My drink bottle. It is hard to remember to eat, drink and sleep in this situation. Having my drink bottle with me meant it took slightly less effort to stay hydrated than it would otherwise be.
7. A go-to guy. I think it is vital to have someone to be your contact with the outside world. Bek played that part for me during that first Melbourne stay and it was invaluable. People will be curious and want to help, I think it is necessary for ones own sanity to have a central point for everyone to get their information from to prevent the phone ringing non-stop. It is also helpful to have someone close by to act as gopher to go and get anything you need.
8. Comfortable and presentable clothing. Lots of sitting, lots of strangers, not a lot of time to choose outfits or do laundry!
10. My leather journal. I use it for journaling but mostly for writing down things like the nurses name, things I want to research
If you are a reader who has a friend or family member going through the PICU experience the things that helped me most were the fruit basket I got sent, some home made soup, SMS and email messages of encouragement (often I had the phone off when I was with Kaylee and when I was away the phone ringing would make my heart stop a little) and practical offers of help directed to my go-to person.
Hopefully there is something that will help someone else going through the experience to make the trip a little smoother.