A wife can learn a lot when her DH is suddenly awarded a six-night, seven-day trip to a hospital. (And NOT an all-expenses paid trip, I might add.) It was a little different than, say, when I went in to have my babies: we weren't prepared at home with the kids, DH wasn't prepared to be absent from work for that long, and the obvious difference is that it was a very tense situation, not a happy occasion. So I feel compelled to post a list of things I learned when DH recently went on his little trip, and I hope you will never need to remember them:
1. Before you leave for the hospital or as soon as you get there, get a pad of paper and a pen and keep them with you all the time. I didn't do this, and I had six pieces of information written on a ragged 3x3 Post-It. Phone numbers, medical terms, room numbers, etc. You'll get all of this spewed at you in rapid succession and you'll want to remember it.
2. Have someone bring you a sack full of snacks and bottled water to keep in the hospital room, for you and/or the patient. Hospital food gets old very quickly and you won't want to leave his bedside for food anyway. Someone did this for me without my asking and it came in so handy.
3. Grab your cell phone charger.
4. Back to the pad of paper: jot down questions for the docs as you think of them. They talk fast and they spend limited time in your room so you need to make the most of it. It's also good to record any medications they are administering so you can Google them later or ask someone else to. And Google-ing doctors' names is interesting, too.
5. The more machines and/or cords involved in the patient's stay, the more important it is to be there with him all the time. The nurses, as compassionate as they might seem, will not hang around to help the patient get situated after getting up to use the restroom or if he needs to turn over. It's especially hard for them to get comfortable if they've had blood drawn or needle pokes in both arms.
6. You need to make sure you are there when the doctors visit. DH will think he is lucid, but ask him to repeat something the doctor said and you could get a blank stare.
7. Ask questions. The medical staff seemed a little robotic at times with all their procedures and such and soon you will find yourself wondering, "just what was that blood-draw for..."
8. Listen to the people who tell you: "you need to worry about DH and not your kids..." If you know the homefront is covered, allow yourself to focus on being at the hospital. It is hard to do but people really do want to help so you have to let them. It's really the only choice.
9. Speaking of the homefront: ask the people there to keep a phone log of calls so you and the patient can look at it later. Again, this was done without my asking but I so appreciated it.
10. I was wishing for one of those mini voice recorders for remembering what floor of the parking garage I had left my car. There were a few trips winding up and down on foot with my keys trying to follow the sound of my "beeper."
11. Pray with your DH, not just for him.
That's about it. I have been working on this post for awhile and now I'm ready to move on to funner things (shut-up, sometimes non-words work).