A guest blog from 17 year old Kaleb on how to prepare for an outpatient appointment.
Day care medical appointments can be tough. Whether they take the form of treatment, tests or something else, they can be an emotional and physical challenge. Preparing for these appointments by working out how to get there, what to bring, and how to wind down afterwards can be a really useful way of making a difficult experience that little bit more manageable.
It's always important to take someone with you, perhaps your guardians/parents or a friend.
Try to plan how you'll get to the appointment. Doing this before the day itself can help make it all a bit less stressful, because you've got one fewer task to deal with. Your preparations might involve something as simple as checking the route on Google Maps, or buying your train/bus tickets in advance.
If possible, leave early. By doing this, you can reduce the effect of traffic or unexpected delay, and it means you're not thrust into the appointment as soon as you arrive at the hospital. If you're driving, it's a good idea to leave lots of time to park and make your way to the hospital.
What to bring
This can vary depending on age. It's a good idea to bring a variety of things, because the day care may last a long time. Some day care requires the patient to stay awake too, so it's important to have something with you that will be engaging for a long time. Also, bear in mind that lots of hospital TVs don't always work, or may not be showing something you enjoy, so don't rely on them for entertainment!
Some ideas include:
- A book - one that you can read or have read to you that's easy and, potentially, you already know. It can be comforting to have something familiar, like a favourite story.
- A phone or tablet – these can be great tools to provide entertainment. Being able to watch or listen to a programme or music gives something to focus on, and requires very little energy, so this can be particularly good for day care which will drain you of energy. Remember to bring headphones as hospital wards are often loud, so headphones ensure you can actually hear what's playing.
- Cards/board games – it can be very relaxing to play a game with whoever has accompanied you to the hospital and can help pass the time.
- Talking – having a chat can be a great way to pass the time and relax. This is a particularly good activity if you need to stay awake during the day care, because you can't doze off unnoticed!
Plan something nice to do after the day care. This might be watching a film, going for a meal, or some other activity. It doesn't have to be straight after the day care, especially because appointments can be tiring, so you might want to go home. Instead, the treat could be 'banked' for another day. It certainly doesn't have to be expensive: a favourite takeaway and/or watching a film is a great idea for a post-hospital treat!
Having something to look forward to can be really helpful in the lead up to and during day care. It can give you something to look forward to and provide something to talk about before and during the day. Also, it's a great way to make the experience more positive, so, rather than just being about the appointment, the day can also be about the treat. Equally, it's a great opportunity to wind-down and process some of the emotion.
The most important thing is to find a way of managing day care appointments that works best for you.