Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WFMW: Dealing with hospital stays

Yesterday I had to go to the hospital where Pete was admitted back in 2006 to fight his pulmonary embolism. * (I was paying a bill.) As I traipsed the boys through the halls to find the cashier, I felt the tension from two years ago wash over me all over again. I didn't tell the boys where we were going, but Mickey asked immediately " this the hospital where Daddy stayed..."

Anyway, it really made me start thinking about what we went through. I got a crash course in dealing with a husband's unexpected hospital stay and wrote the post below about it. Thought I would share it once again if you haven't been reading my blog for long.

Like the title says, I hope you never need these tips.

(Originally posted December, 2006)

A list I hope you'll never need

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).

*He made a full recovery!
For more great tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.


Totallyscrappy said...

A few months ago my brother was hospitalized for a week before his death. (He was 44.) That week in the hospital was tough and your list offers great suggestions! One thing that I kept reminding my sil was that if someone offered to do something say YES! That, and be prepared to offer suggestions when someone asks if there is something they can do. If your lawn needs mowing or the children need back to school supplies ask. People really so want to help. Allow them the chance to bless you.

Christine said...

Scrappy, you are so right. I had such a hard time with letting people least at the beginning. Ha! Towards the end of his stay it got a little easier to say "yes, you can sweep my floor..." And really, it's what people wanted to do.

Kama said...

These are some great tips. I am about to be admitted to the hospital to deliver our first child who is due next Tuesday although the contractions today indicate that our little one might come a little sooner! Thanks for sharing--I'll make sure my husband has that stuff ready!