Not the kind of get away you want to be packing for but hopefully this bit of planning will make your hours in the Chemo Lounge a little more comfy.
Chemo Tote: Bigger is better. Go for something you love to look at. A lot. And make sure it will survive a dousing of Lysol. Interior pockets are a must. Wheels are not.
My fav: LL Bean made in America with a monogram.
Fuzzy socks/slippers: It can get chilly, plus, you probably won’t want to lounge around in your shoes for 6 or so hours. It’s about creating as much comfort as you can. Note, you will be getting up (IV pole on wheels at your side) to go potty so make sure your footwear isn’t slippery.
Soft, comfy throw blanket: Some chemo lounges have these, our guess is most don’t. CC’s did not. A small smooshy pillow can also be comforting—especially if you’re a feather pillow addict like we are. (Also, make sure your blankie is washable. Please. Thank you.)
Sippy Cup: You’ll prefer your own to-go cup/bottle over the standard Styrofoam-bendiestraw fare the lounge may or may not provide. Chemo can dehydrate your body inside and out so it’s imperative to drink up! CC and I tried every flavor of sparkling water LaCroix and Dansani makes to find what tastes good on any given day.
Chemo Coozie: For your Sippy Cup. It insulates the drink and adds a little bit of softness and comforting color to your sterile surroundings. (We here at SickOfPink.com love to knit them! Want to join us?)
Snacks: Depending on the day, you might not be hungry, but it’s important to keep those good proteins and calories coming in. Your body needs the fuel. CC fixed zip-top bags of nuts, raisins, peanut butter crackers, muffins, etc. No raw veggies or fruit please. Bananas and oranges, with their thick skins are usually a safe exception–Please meet with your oncology dietician for dietary restrictions and recommendations.
Short Attention Span Reading Materials: Like silly magazines or essay-style books. If you use your e-reader or tablet, remember the charging cord.
Electronics: Phone, tablet, laptop, EARBUDS and charging cords. Some folks in the Chemo Lounge like to chat. Some don’t. Using earbuds will let you opt out of social time while also avoiding the temptation to put Aunt Sally on speaker phone or subject your fellow Loungers to that hilarious YouTube video.
Hand Lotion and Lip Balm: Chemo is extremely drying. Extremely. Add to that the typical dry air of hospitals=double whammy. Be aware that your favorite lavender hand cream might not smell so appealing after a couple rounds of chemo and an unscented product might be warranted. Hand creams with glycerin as a main ingredient have a bit longer staying power.
Speaking of Dry: If you wear contacts, you will want rewetting drops. Or you might want to dig out your glasses for a while. Hard candy (think lemon drops or fruit flavored lifesavers) can help a bit with a dry mouth and sometimes, a metallic or funky taste chemo might leave in your mouth. CC’s Chemo Lounge offered no snacks, but they did have a large bowl of hard candies in the middle of the wig display. (Right?)
Paper Notebook and Ink Pens: Sure you can take notes on your phone, tablet or laptop, but there’s an ease of use with paper and pen that can’t be replaced. You’ll want to take notes when you talk to medical staff, hear a tip from a fellow Lounger, make notes about meds—basically have a second brain because trust us—you’ll need one. You can jot down grocery lists or to-do lists as you’re thinking of them– and hand them off to anyone who says, “Let me know what I can do to help!” You can also hand the paper notebook off to a friend, family member, nurse or doctor to use/review without relinquishing your electronic device.
Hand Sanitizer: Again, the scent you love today might make you gag next month, so try to find an unscented or mildly scented version. Make everyone who visits you use hand sanitizer. Chemo compromises the immune system so we have no mercy for germs.
Tissues. Soft tissues. No time to cheap out. Look, you’re gonna cry. Your nose is going to run. Your tear ducts might clog (again, chemo is soooo drying!) which makes your eyes water. Even if the Chemo Lounge supplies tissues you know they’ll be those cardboard sheets in a box. You deserve brand name softness. You really do.
We hope this list helps make this crappy experience a wee bit more comfortable. Please share other tips or items that you used during your time in the Lounge!