Hospital Visits Can Be Fun, Right?
August 24, 2011 6:28 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is going to be spending the next week in hospital- nothing too serious, but definitely a little frightening!- and I want to spend a lot of time hanging out with her, looking after her and making a boring time a little bit fun. What are some things we can do to pass the long hours?

Mostly she'll just be sitting in bed on a drip in between doctors coming by humming and hawing. She'll be there for a week, and I'll be able to spend the afternoons and evenings with her.. what simple things can we do together to help the time pass?
posted by Philby to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
if there is a DVD player, get a series to watch together...
- arrested development
- the wire
- west wing

board games
mad libs
if she's into video games, most hospitals have xbox's or play stations they can bring in on a cart...
posted by fozzie33 at 6:32 AM on August 24, 2011

I've had this little book for about 15-20 years now, and it is continually fun. A couple of the games in it will be familiar, but the ones you aren't familiar with will be easy to grasp the basic rules, but stragetically challenging enough to make you go "hmmm."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who has spent a bit of time in hospitals, both as a patient and a visitor, a piece of advice before I suggest games. Depending on what she is in for, she may be a great deal more tired than either of you expect (and therefore want to spend time sleeping) and she may want to see a lot less of you than either of you expect. So you need to be very sensitive to her needs, because she may not be able to tell you to get lost (being grateful that you care enough to come to keep her company, even though she doesn't necessarily want company at that moment). If she is getting any kind of medication, this can have all sorts of unexpected mood effects (including lack of concentration). So, be prepared for that. Be ready to ask "should I go for a bit?" and then gamely get up and leave, checking back in a few hours. Also, what happens in the hospital stays in the hospital.

Card games. Gin is good for two, and pretty easy to pick up and put down.

Reading. I found my concentration badly affected by the environment, so interesting magazines and YA novels were better than assuming this is a great time to start Proust. You can try reading to her, if you are into that, or, heck, let her read to you, or trade off.

I have never had a hospital room with a DVD player, but you could get a portable one. TV shows are great for convalescing, since they require less tracking than movies. House is probably a bad choice, but get a series that is more episodic than epic arc. If I was planning this, a couple of seasons of Top Chef would be a good call.

Sudoku and similar simple games.

A magnetic chess set might be nice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:43 AM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

If she is able to move her IV pole with her and go on battery power for a little while, it would be nice to go outside for a few minutes. Many hospitals have little gardens and sitting areas near the building or sometimes in the middle. Take advantage of these if possible.

I was hospitalized for a week earlier this month, and was unable to go outside. One of my happiest moments in recent memory was sitting outside on a bench in the sun on the day I was discharged. Its easy to forget how weird it is to live without fresh air and direct sunlight for an extended period of time.
posted by halseyaa at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also seconding GenjiandProust that she may not feel like really "doing anything". So it would be nice to bring yourself something to do or read. That way she can relax and not feel like she has to entertain you while you sit with her.

And adding: food! Ask the staff if she is allowed to have outside food, and if so, bring in a favorite as a surprise. Cafeteria-style hospital food can get boring.
posted by halseyaa at 6:48 AM on August 24, 2011

A box of trivial pursuit cards. No need to bring the board, just take turns reading questions or trying to guess together.
posted by ian1977 at 6:48 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the first thing you should do is ask your girlfriend if she wants you there all that time. Depending on the procedure, she might just want some time to herself and be alone. Being confined in a hospital can be embarrassing at times.
posted by JohnE at 7:06 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

As well as just reading, consider reading *to* her. Even if she is too tired to play a game or engage in conversation she'll probably enjoy just hearing your voice.
posted by de void at 7:08 AM on August 24, 2011

Also if she has any pets, it's feasible to bring them and the hospital will allow it, then arrange a pet visit!
posted by de void at 7:10 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

If she can eat regular food, go pick up some of her favorite things. When my wife was in for four days after her C-Section I stayed with her but at one point I went home to grab a few things so I spend a half hour making her some chocolate chip cookies. She really appreciated them and I made enough for the nurses and staff. My wife was happier and we were heroes among the staff.
posted by bondcliff at 7:12 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

As an interestingly simple, as cheap as you can get, yet still has depth board game option I'd suggest mancala or backgammon. Card games get old fast, but that's 100% personal preference.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:13 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

and I want to spend a lot of time hanging out with her, looking after her and making a boring time a little bit fun.

You need to ask her, if you haven't already, what she wants.

Having been in this situation, one of the things that really helped my wife was having her girlfriends in the room for a while and me somewhere else. Helped me too, got a break so I could clear my head.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Audio books/radio
Foot massage
posted by leigh1 at 8:03 AM on August 24, 2011

If she is able to move her IV pole with her and go on battery power for a little while, it would be nice to go outside for a few minutes.

Seconding this. The summer I spent in hospital after a bike accident, getting to go outside in a wheelchair was the moments I looked forward to the most. It made a huge change in my mood and sense of well-being.
posted by Kurichina at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2011

Bring the iPad! Plenty of games, reading apps, etc.
posted by chrisinseoul at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2011

Check the hospital but, many have internet access now. I was in and out, a lot, 2008-2010 and my laptop was a lifesaver.

My husband and I watched a lot of TV as I wasn't up for playing games or anything like that. The best thing was him just being there, with me, even if we weren't speaking, it was nice to know I wasn't alone.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:30 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Play dice. Nothing makes time fly quite so well.
posted by rocketman at 11:48 AM on August 24, 2011

This isn't exactly your question but [I just almost about wasted a bunch of time saying the exact same thing GenjiandProust (and others following) said in the first paragraph of the very second comment above so another vote for that; my boyfriend wanted to be there as often as possible (and he wasn't working full time at the time), and I felt like an absolute dick saying "Yes, person who loves me so much he can't stand to be not with me in this stupid gross hospital, I'd much rather be by myself right now, even though you won't see me until tomorrow if you don't come tonight." Just be aware of this.]

As far as games and time passing activities:
  1. Phase 10 is the love child of rummy and Uno and can pass the time forever
  2. Don't know how much of this situation will require privacy or what her expectations are, but my boyfriend seemed to greatly spread when visitors/calls from outside came through so even though I wasn't overwhelmed, I felt like an active social calendar in the hospital
  3. Likewise, any sort of contact with the outside world that feels like 'business as usual' -- if WiFi isn't an option, newspapers (or, as was done by me, printing out news sites I normally read online) was much appreciated.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:14 PM on August 24, 2011

Read to each other. Book series I've read out loud in hospitals: Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and Little House on the Prairie. But let her choose something, favourite book from childhood, new thriller she wants to check out, whatever she's in the mood for.

Bring something you can quietly do by yourself while she's napping. Crossword, magazine, knitting, etc.

If her doctors allow it, go out sometimes and get take away from a favourite restaurant. The anticipation and subsequent enjoyment of real food can seem like the event of the day when you're trapped in a hospital.
posted by mosessis at 2:43 PM on August 24, 2011

If you've got a framed picture or two at home, bring them in to put on the bedside table or windowsill. It makes things feel more like home. A soft throw blanket from home can be really nice, too, as all the linens in the hospital have been bleached a billion times and aren't so cushy anymore. That said, find out early if the unit where she's staying has a blanket warmer. Warm blankets are a little piece of heaven, to the point that sometimes I almost get jealous of the patients I care for.

This would be a great time to pick up a stack of magazines for her to read, whether she's got a pile at home that she hasn't had time to read through, or whether you run to the store. When I'm not feeling well I like to get a magazine that feels like a guilty pleasure that I wouldn't normally read. For me that means a trashy fashion/gossip/sex-advice type thing, or a bunch of home-decor magazines. Tiny little blips of information and lots of pictures are good when you're convalescing.
posted by vytae at 3:21 PM on August 24, 2011

Most hospitals nowadays have wifi - when I was in the hospital last year, I watched Veronica Mars Season 1 on my ipod - if you have something bigger that you can watch together, then even better!
posted by echo0720 at 7:39 PM on August 24, 2011

thanks very much, guys- there are some lovely suggestions in there, and quite a few things i might not have thought of! once again, i bask in awe at the glory and benevolence of ask metafilter.
posted by Philby at 8:19 PM on August 24, 2011

I say this not having read everyones comments but from the point of knowledge of having a friend whose wife was in hospital for a month and a half - digital technology has made moments apart seem tiny. If you both have smartphones, and/or iPads, then there are things like WWF (Words With Friends, a nice scrabble clone, even now available on Facebook), you can do Facetime, you can watch YouTube at the same time... I encourage you to think about how you can surprise her with joy even when you're not in the same room together.
posted by carlh at 5:31 PM on August 26, 2011

« Older Solid wood desk that will hide my computer tower   |   Anything else to be done with this clogged... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.