Hospital-Friendly Diversions
May 9, 2023 7:55 AM   Subscribe

A relative has a few hospital visits scheduled, and I'll be accompanying them. Can you help me brainstorm ideas to pass the time?

While talking is obviously one option, I'm open to additional ways we can make the time go by. This person will be hooked up to an IV for a few hours, so please no suggestions for anything that involves much movement. Ideally something that travels easily with minimal set-up. My understanding is there's wi-fi there, but I don't know how reliable it is. I also don't have a lot of money to throw at this, but I could make a purchase provided it's the kind of thing we won't exhaust too quickly. I've asked them for ideas, and they've come up with none. Their interests are mainly video games, which I'm ruling out here for reasons.

What other games, activities, and such do you think would work as a distraction from what is an otherwise unpleasant obligation? I tried to put the relevant details without limiting the field too much as I'm sincerely interested in as many possibilities as you all can muster. Thanks in advance!
posted by xenization to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you guys play cards?
posted by praemunire at 7:58 AM on May 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A simple option is to download a movie or TV shows onto a tablet. Most streaming services allow this.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:03 AM on May 9, 2023 [2 favorites]

Thumbs up to cards. Dutch Blitz is incredibly simple and a lot of fun.
posted by virago at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2023 [2 favorites]

Look up the game Pass the Pigs.
posted by Leontine at 8:16 AM on May 9, 2023

Subscribe to Libby through your local library and pick out a good audiobook. If you're in a private space, bring a Bluetooth speaker to play it on, and if you're in a shared space, split a pair of earbuds to listen at the same time.
posted by SeedStitch at 8:18 AM on May 9, 2023 [2 favorites]

Video Game: (I'm curious why you are ruling out video games. They aren't all violent shooters and involve yelling.)

Specifically, Stardew Valley is available for Nintendo switch, which can work on a little table or handheld. You could play in splitscreen - cooperatively managing a little farm. The game is simple and happy, but surprisingly deep with a satisfying farming, fishing, quests, areas to explore/unlock, and nice goals.

Audiobook/Read this book out loud.

I really enjoyed the HPMOR audiobook for something harry potter-but-adjacent. It's available on apple/spotify podcasts. It's a great story, albeit preachy - with great voice acting and editing. It's "what if harry potter but smart" with a few other departures, but it's just so deep.

If you have any reason not to read that book, the book Mother Of Learning is fantastic as well, though I've heard the audiobook less so.

Card Game:

Oh Hell (normal deck of cards, bidding /trick taking game)

TV show

Alone isn't the most popular or highly recommended TV show, but it's on hulu and it is surprisingly engaging to watch with one other person. It's about 10 people being stranded in a remote area, alone, and who can stay the longest wins. They face a variety of challenges, and I've never shown it to someone and not seem them completely drawn in - at least for that season. Because the participants film themselves, it feels a lot more "real" than most reality TV (though there is still annoying cuts/edits/etc, at least it's LESS fake than other shows).
posted by bbqturtle at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I used to have regular infusions that took a few hours each time, and I would take my iPad with a view to listening to music, reading, and playing games. However, I never got much of that done because after a few minutes there was always a nurse wanting to check my blood pressure or some other patient enacting a little scene that commanded attention, or I needed to go through the business of a toilet visit while still on a drip, or someone was giving me a cup of tea or asking what sandwich I wanted. So you may find the problem is less than you might suppose: good luck, anyway.
posted by Phanx at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2023 [4 favorites]

Best answer: What about doing crosswords together? Easy to start and stop, and minimal cost to buy a book of them.
posted by bookmammal at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2023 [4 favorites]

The last time I was hospitalized I was much less in need of entertainment than I expected because I was busy recuperating. Though I brought an array of diversions all I did was watch movies. I would suggest picking out some video media that’s not too stressful or intellectually challenging that the patient would enjoy and you could tolerate and make sure you have a way to to play your selections, either confirming the Wi-Fi is good enough for streaming or downloading to a device.
posted by reren at 8:55 AM on May 9, 2023 [5 favorites]

I have had to go to the infusion center for 5 straight days two times in my life. Each visit was scheduled for 1.5 hours. The first day, the first time, I had all sorts of plans to read, watch TV, catch up on email, etc. I fell asleep within 10 minutes. From that day forward, I planned on taking my best nap each day for an hour plus. I still look back fondly on going to the center. Sit in comfy chair recliner hospital thing, get stuck, watch machine for 2 or 3 minutes and wake up an hour and a half later, have a glass of apple juice and go home totally relaxed.

A lot depends on what you are getting infused. Some make you very tired or nauseous. Some not so much. Watching others in the center, I concluded that while many had lots of plans, few did much beyond talking or watching a video. The people that came in alone usually slept or read.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2023

Best answer: How about a travel backgammon set?

Do you like board games? Many modern tabletop board games have very good iOS apps. In particular I've enjoyed the apps for Carcassonne, Terraforming Mars, and Agricola. (Of course, please ignore if this counts as 'video games' for your purposes).
posted by hovey at 10:05 AM on May 9, 2023 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A suggestion to see if there's a patient and family resource center or library at the hospital where you'll be. There may be video games, audio books, movies, tablets, or card games available there for short term use.

I agree that movies are a nice way to pass the time while recuperating. Perhaps an audio book or podcasts could also be nice.
posted by LKWorking at 10:33 AM on May 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

2nding putting board games on a tablet or computer. You can have a variety of options without needing a lot of space and you don't have to worry about germs getting on lots of pieces that are hard to sterilize. If you get a tablet stand, they should be able to play with one hand so as to not move around the arm with the IV.

Is there a TV series in a genre that you both enjoy that neither of you have seen yet?

If they enjoy gaming, are Twitch streams something they enjoy watching? I don't think they're downloadable but you might be able to use a phone as a hot spot. If you have YouTube Premium, that does let you download files and there's plenty of game streams there as well.
posted by Candleman at 2:07 PM on May 9, 2023

So many great two-player small footprint games.

Jaipur, Lost Cities, Fox in the Forest for a trick taking game, Patchwork, requires some space. Depending on if you have room for a board, lots of options.
posted by Windopaene at 2:12 PM on May 9, 2023

Best answer: Games World of Puzzles magazine in the US (try Barnes and Noble): IMO the best American "variety puzzles" magazine (otherwise, look for Master's Variety for a reasonable difficulty level). A couple of good mechanical pencils with erasers.

Phase 10 card game. You can get an app for this, or a deck. If you have an iPad/tablet, you can also get board games like Catan, Carcassonne, or Talisman.

Power bank for phones. A fully charged tablet should be ok for a few hours of use, though.
posted by verbminx at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

It seems to me most people sit around looking at their smartphones. A tablet would be better than a phone. When I had infusions, I took an ipod with about an hour of music and noise canceling headphones.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:21 PM on May 9, 2023

I have been going in for infusions several times a month for years now.
If you and your relative are thinking of playing games or doing something, I'd suggest finding out if they might end up putting the relative in a bed instead of a chair. It took me a while to figure out that if I didn't want to be in one of those awful beds, I needed to specifically ask the receptionist when I checked in. I read during infusions, and the beds aren't good for sitting up. It's in my chart now, but it took a long time before someone actually knew who to tell so that my preference wouldn't be ignored (no blame to the nurses - they do their best).

And yes, the whole thing can be super exhausting, especially if you need labs and have to wait around for results or if the pharmacy is habitually late like it is at my center, so it might be tough to manage more than looking at a screen, though I think I'd be up for playing a simple game with a friend.
posted by FencingGal at 5:05 AM on May 10, 2023 [2 favorites]

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