Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Surviving the Hospital

Barring another fever, my days as an inpatient should be over! However, I did get to spend the bulk of February in the hospital and I thought I'd pass on a few tips about surviving your Hospital visit.

Sleep When You Can
It starts very, very early in the hospital. If I was lucky I’d get to sleep until 7am before the morning rush of nurses, blood tests, doctor visits, vital signs, cleaners, breakfast, students, nurse’s aids and morning meds. Then once that started to die down, chemo would start around nine, which meant having the nurse come in every hour or so change the bags and deal with the constant beeping of the IV. For my first round of chemo, that went on for nine hours a day. When I went in to the hospital a second time, I had a fever which meant the IV was running constantly for three days.

You’re nights won’t be much better. Look forward to nightly meds, vitals checks, bed checks and bored nurses talking in the hallways. Sleep when you can.

TV Service
If you must, but my advise is to get internet and/or a portable DVD player. At plus+ten dollars a day for basic cable, the hospital TV service is pure rip off (see below)

Not all the wards have internet, but it is becoming more common. Immediately check to see if you have access to a network to avoid paying the TV costs because it is easy nowadays to catch up on most shows via the web.

If you have access to a portable DVD player or a tumbdrive full of favourites, this is also far and away a better bet than the TV service.

Shave your Forearms
If you’re due for a lot of IV, it is better this than having each individual hair pulled out painfully piece by piece every time they have to move a piece of tape.

Bring Food
They make hospital food jokes for a reason. It is really, really bad. Make sure you have a bag of granola bars, fruit and some treats stashed somewhere. And god help you on fish Fridays – diet permitting, this is the day for take out.

Learn to Horde
If they bring it to you and you don’t need it right away, squirrel it away. This goes for everything from meds to sugar packets to peanut butter and plastic cutlery. Because there will always be a time later when you really need something but you won’t have it. My re-occurring problem was they would always bring me cereal in the morning, but no milk.

Pillows and Blankets and Sundries
Just when you think you’ve gotten comfortable with the blankets, they’ll come and change your bed leaving you with nothing but a paper thin sheet and napkin for a bedspread. Bring in a spare blanket from home that they can’t steal, and a pillow too if you can. The hospital ones are wrapped in plastic that always causes the pillowcase to slip off and you wake up every morning with your head sweaty and stuck.

Things like shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash are also advised. The hospital has its own versions if you’re desperate, but you aren’t going to like them.

Lock Up Your Stuff!
I lost two good pens to well meaning nurses. Plus the hospitals are full of people just wandering around, not all of whom are that well meaning. Most rooms have a locker, so bring a lock and make sure you’re valuables are locked away when you’re not around or asleep (or at least lock your suitcase or bag). This goes double in a shared room and triple for day-surgeries and out-patient treatments like blood work or day chemo.

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