Can anyone really be at ease in a hospital setting?
When the hospital feels like home:
I remember when I worked at a large hospital. It felt like home to me. I knew the people who worked there, the layout of the building, and the inner workings of the hospital. The staff was so amazing to work with that I looked forward to going in everyday.
When the hospital does not feel like home:
Being a patient, in a hospital where you do not know the employees, is a completely different story. The sounds, smells, noises, and temperature all seem wrong. The people who work there can give off the aura that they are in too much of a hurry to have time to answers questions.
Thanks to smart phones, patients can now research answers to questions they have during the endless hours they wait. When I worked at the hospital, cell phones were merely phones and many areas of the hospital required telephones to be turned off at all times. Back then, patients and their families had to wait with their lingering questions, such as: what does the phrase that the doctor used mean, why are technicians drawing more blood, how can I get relief from pain, etc…
I remember stressful occasions when raising a small child and sitting in the ER with my grandmother. There was nothing to entertain a child with and we were certainly unprepared. My grandmother did not want to be there, although it was necessary.
We would count the number of squares on the floor, or play silly games like “I spy”. However, there is not much to spy inside of the hospital that is any shade other than white. The temperature was always so cold, the chairs were miserable, and the only one sleeping comfortably was my grandmother (who was medicated).
It was easy to eventually lull the child to sleep by reading extremely boring pamphlets from the ER. After she was fast asleep and my grandmother was drugged up, I was bored, hungry and cold. (For an additional list of places you do not want to be, click here.)
solution to the dilemma:
Eventually I came up with the idea to have a bag packed at all times. From then on, when I was called to meet my grandmother at the ER, I was prepared. The bag stayed in my closet until I needed to grab it and go. Here is a simple list of 12 items to pack and in a bag, where you can easily access it, in the event you are called to the hospital:
- Non-perishable snacks, such as packs of peanut butter crackers or protein bars.
- Hard candy that can be popped in your mouth for a quick burst of energy
- A jacket!
- A small blanket if your bag allows. (It can be so cold in the hospital.)
- A book or crossword puzzle. You will get bored, especially if your phone dies or you are in an area that pones are not allowed.
- A pen or pencil to take notes from the doctor (or just to doodle with).
- Bottles of water.
- Lip balm.
- A small lotion, if you have room for it, since skin dries out quickly in the hospital.
- A change of clothes.
- Small toiletries, if you can fit them in your bag. Many times you will be called away in the evening and you will want to freshen up the next day.
- For the person you are caring for- keep their list of surgeries, doctors, and medications handy. Most hospitals can access this from their database, but some staff members prefer to ask these questions as opposed to looking them up.
What about you? You probably have a story of your own, from a time you were called to the hospital in the middle of the night. What do you suggest for new caregivers who might be frequenting the hospital?