I have previously talked about how to dress warmly for a regular day. A day at or in the hospital imposes additional requirements, however. Depending on what tests or treatments are being done, you may:
- need to ensure easy access to certain blood vessels or to catheters
- have restrictions on wearing metals
- need to dress and undress repeatedly
- need to leave certain body parts completely uncovered (or even covered in ice packs)
- have to stay in one position for a long period of time
- have especially sensitive skin
So layering fleece tights, long underwear, a wool sweater, and a down jacket may not be feasible. Instead, try the following. Wear loose, comfortable layers which can easily be taken on and off, with sleeves and pant legs that can be pushed up. Avoid anything binding or with seams that will cause irritation if you put pressure on them for a long time. Consider athletic clothing, lounge wear, or yoga clothes – they are designed for comfort, and finding options without metal fasteners is easy.
Several companies manufacture sweatshirts and sweatpants with zippers installed specifically to allow access to lines or ports. Searching for “chemotherapy clothing” or “dialysis clothing” online will bring up options. If you prefer non-specialty clothing, tearaway or breakaway pants can be unsnapped to allow access to femoral lines, while button-down and v-neck shirts work well for central and PICC lines. If you may need to bare your arms, layer a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt under a looser long-sleeved top like Mallory does for her CT scans, so you don’t have to take clothes off to have your blood pressure taken or an IV put in.
For women, a pullover sports bra or shelf bra will eliminate metal and be comfortable even if you have to spend a long time in one position.
Finally, don’t forget the little things, particularly if they can easily be put on or taken off to fine-tune your comfort level. There is an enormous difference between a cheap, thin pair of socks and a warm one. Leg-warmers can be layered underneath pants for extra cosiness, while scarves (like LL’s infinity scarves, which won’t slip off or trail on the ground), hats, shawls, and even slippers can add the bit of warmth that takes you from chilly to comfy.