If you or a family member have never been admitted to the hospital, there are some things you need to know. I mean the usuals apply, like bring your id and your insurance card, and a snack or a bottle of water if you’re not the patient. Leave your valuables at home and remember, you aren’t checking into the Ritz.
Things to know about a stay at the hospital:
- Its like hiking, dress in layers. You never know what the temperature will be like in the waiting room of the Emergency Room, or if your thermostat will actually work in your patient room on the floor. To be safe, dress in comfy layers that you can weather the elements in.
- The nursing unit has little cups of ice cream, and packets of peanut butter. Don’t be fooled. When you get admitted to a unit, you will want to groan with despair because… hospital food. BUT, don’t fret too much because what you don’t know is that the nurses have a freezer stocked with little cups of ice cream! And they won’t want you to know this, but they have little packets of peanut butter too – perfect for the little graham crackers they give you.
- When the rules are in question, just hush. If you’re only supposed to have 2 people back in pre-op, but your mom and dad and wife and aunt all want to be back with you, just quietly sneak each family member in and huddle around his bed murmuring softly and look down at the floor when medical staff pass by. It’s ok. It’s one of those better to ask for forgiveness than permission type scenarios… and if you get in trouble anyways, don’t tell anyone I wrote this post 😉
- Don’t not brush your teeth just because you forgot your toothbrush. They have toothbrushes and toothpaste, just ask. Everyone will thank you.
- Don’t not shower just because you forgot shower shoes, and Lord have mercy don’t EVER stand on the hospital shower floor barefooted. Pro tip: lay towels down and stand on them, OR wear those sexy blue hospital socks in the shower. No need to catch a fungus for the sake of clean pits.
- Find the linen closet. Each nursing unit has a closet stocked with clean towels, sheets, pillow cases and wash cloths. Find this closet and use this stuff. Cover the recliner with a sheet and use 2 pillow cases per pillow. We’re minimizing germs here people.
- Bring a little bit of home with you. If you’re going to be there for any length of time, bring things that will make your room feel a little more like home. We bring our essential oils diffuser and diffuse all the same oils we would at home. We like that it smells like home and we sleep easier because of that.
- Bring electronics and all the chargers that go with them. Or a book. You’ll be bored. Prepare for that.
- Don’t expect to sleep. You won’t. Not for any length of time anyway. Everyone always talks about this but its true. Nurses, nursing assistants, phlebotomy (that’s the lab people), housekeeping, physicians (who for some reason round as a team and then again separately), surgeons, case workers, volunteers, etc. And just as an example, Brandon has had labs drawn at 3am each day. 3am. Ridiculous. Is there not a better time?! Like say, 9:00???
- Track everything. I mean errrything. You are your best advocate so be knowledgable about what meds are being given when, and what the plan is. Don’t be afraid to question something if you’re unsure. No one cares as much as you. Trust me.
- Don’t think your sense of dignity will stay intact while your here. Just go ahead and prepare yourself to show everybody your everything. If you’ve had a baby, you know what I mean. And everyone who is in the medical profession thinks its cool… meanwhile you’re all like “this is my stuff, yo.” But as a patient, you reach a point where you just give it up. Eh, stuff is stuff, ya know what I mean? Dignity = out the window.
There may be other things I’m forgetting, but in case you end up in the hospital anytime soon, at least you’ll have a list to get you started. The only other thing I can think of is that the nursing staff is there to help you. They will be your biggest advocates (other than yourself) and you will find yourself wanting to talk to them more and more, and find out a little about them, because they’re investing in you. They’ll seem more like friends after a few days, and you’ll know how many kids they have and where they lived before they moved here. They’ll love on your kids when you bring them to visit, and reassure you when scary things happen. You’ll bring them donuts (don’t forget night-shift too!) because you want them to know just how desperately grateful you are to them. Because they’re caring for your most important, your number 1, your best friend, or even your child, and goodness! you just want them to know how much they mean to you! Let them know how much you appreciate them, and tell them thank you, even for the smallest things. You are vulnerable and they are helping bridge that scary place with feeling safe.
I say all this to say… I hope you never, ever have to use this list. Stay out of the hospital, friends, but should you need it, reference this handy dandy highly technical list of things to know about a hospital stay.