I started keeping a hospital case packed and ready for any emergencies several years ago. It was a big acknowledgement of where things had got to - that I need to be prepared for sudden hospital admissions - but it has made that aspect of admission so much easier. There's no frantic rushing around (as best as one can frantically rush when one can't breathe) looking for pyjamas or toiletries, or even trying to remember what might be useful in hospital. Okay, there are still things I need to gather in those last few minutes before the ambulance arrives, and I more often than not misjudge what might be useful, but at least that's only the extras, not the essentials. Although there have also been times when I've completely misjudged the whole situation, gone to my GP, knowing somewhere inside me that I'd be going from the surgery to hospital, but have still failed to take my hospital case with me, instead taking only a rucksack full of children's books, teabags, and cross-stitch. It's not that I'm in total denial at these times, but rather that my brain is addled by high levels of carbon dioxide and low levels of oxygen. Anyway, keeping a case pre-packed means that the essentials are ready to pick up and take with me, should I remember to do so.
Over the past couple of days I've at last been replenishing supplies in my hospital case. It's not a physically demanding task, but it is surprisingly emotionally taxing. Repacking is an acknowledgement that I'm going to need the case again, that I'm going to be desperately ill again, that I'm going to need to be in hospital again. Repacking reminds me of all my previous admissions, and those fights to stay alive. It reminds me of the temporary nature of life, of my life, and the certainty of death ... and the likelihood of my own death being through asthma. Most people don't think about their own death, and most people with asthma rightly don't have to consider dying from their disease, but such is the nature of chronic severe brittle asthma that these are realities in my life.
It took me a long time to get around to repacking after my last-admission-but-one simply because of the emotional strain of doing so. However, this meant that when I did repack it was when another admission was imminent. All the while I was packing I was hating what I was doing, because I hated what it represented, but in the forefront of my mind were the constant thoughts, 'Is this going to be the last time I ever repack my case? Is this attack going to be the last? Is my asthma about to kill me?' It made the whole thing even more difficult and reminded me that, should I survive, I definitely need to make sure I replenish supplies before the crisis looms, so that's what I've been doing. It's still stressful, and it still stirs up all those thoughts, but I can distract myself with other aspects of life that are going on, and I can remember that there are aspects of my life that aren't all about asthma.