University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Ella's guide to staying in hospital

We asked our patient Ella, 13, what it's like to stay in hospital.

Ella in green

Coming into hospital is scary, especially when you have to have open heart surgery. Everyone will be saying not to worry and that it'll all be fine, but it is more than okay to feel scared, anxious, frightened, etc...

What should I do if I feel worried?

One good way to cope with your worries is to talk about it, maybe to a friend, parents or just someone you trust! To help me ease my fears and worries I went to a psychologist. A psychologist is someone that talks to you about how you are feeling about the situation you are in. They give you tips about how you should cope, like doing mindfulness, an exercise that focuses on breathing and helps clear your mind. The app that I use is called ‘Smiling Mind’! It is a free app that you can get on the App Store. It is has audio tapes that are read out to you, so you can get your family and friends involved and you don't have to stay still - there are movement exercises that can be fun! There are lots of other really good apps that can help you as well.

What clothes should I bring with me?

Knowing what to take into hospital can be tricky if you don't know what to bring. One bit of advice to keep in mind is that hospitals are hot, even when you have your own room! I recommend bringing in some PJ shorts and vest tops, although it is worth bringing in maybe one or two pairs of button up PJs as it will be easier for the nurses and doctors to view your chest when they need to, but I would definitely check with your hospital just in case!

What can I do while I'm in hospital?

Time can go really slow in hospital so try and bring activities in like a colouring book or DVDs - just anything that entertains you! I would also advise organising for family and or friends to come and visit. You will have warn them that you won't be up for talking much after an operation, but them just being there makes a difference to recovering more quickly!

If you are younger maybe bring in some cars or some dolls. Also, bringing in your favourite teddy bear can also be comforting. If you don't want to bring your own toys there is a play nurse that can entertain you! If you are older there is a also a teenage room, so if you’re up and walking, you can go in there! It has quite a few activities and the ward has Wi-Fi for if you want to connect your phone, iPad or laptop to Wi-Fi.

I've still got more questions...

The nurses and doctors are all so nice and positive and talk to you! Don't be afraid to ask questions. They give such good advice and help you get out of bed and that can help you feel a bit more settled and get home faster!


 Ocean ward sign