Things No One Tells You About Being in Hospital
For twenty-three years I’ve been an inpatient in hospital roughly a billion times- (okay, probably a million) but for the sake of my credibility in writing this let’s go with a billion.
I’ve definitely determined a favourite vein for blood tests, I’ve memorised the exact tea/coffee/meal schedules, and semi shamefully/semi proudly I admit I’ve mastered the balancing act of rolling my orange-juice-topped IV machine back to bed after visiting the patient kitchenette snack drawer. There is a plethora of things you’ll learn about, yet no one tells you about being in hospital.
Someone will almost definitely (not almost, they will, they’re definitely going to) question you about, measure in front of you, test, touch, and record everything that comes out of your body; regularly. Whether it’s via a tube, a bed pan, a stumpy yellow-topped container you take into the bathroom, you’re going to have to get over the embarrassment of talking about bodily fluids/solids. Geraldine in the bed next to you definitely knows when the last time you opened your bowels was. Guess what though, she doesn’t mind, and to be honest with you, you’ll soon learn of her bowel movements too.
The nurses aren’t asking you these questions to humiliate you, or to invade your privacy, they really are just doing their job; answering these ~gross~ questions truthfully is important to your treatment! Similarly, you’re going to hear a lot of noises related to excretion from other patients; you’re also going to smell and witness many things- the human body is beautiful from every angle, mostly.
You’ll spend a lot of time in bed. You’ll be told specialists are coming to collect you or talk with you for various reasons, so you’ll likely not leave your room, sometimes for days. If you can (and you are granted permission to do so) get up and roam. I feel like it’s illegal to just leave the hospital grounds, especially if you’re attached to their equipment, but walk outside the building if you’re able. It doesn’t make what you’re going through less ‘serious’ by incorporating some ~fun~. Nothing makes a person feel worse than feeling guilty for wanting to feed your human side; the best medicine is happiness, and I promise it will help you heal in so many ways.
Bring in reading material, music (but not musical instruments, please, for the sake of everyone else), bring laptops and iPads, go forth and knit if that’s your thing.
There’s also the amazing Epworth Point of Care systems (which for those yet to become ~hip and down~ with hospital lingo, is that swingable screen/tablet just hanging about near your bed). The PoC system is interactive and offers several boredom-busting activities and outlets, including access to the Internet, Skype, and my personal favourite, Netflix. Your nurse will go through it with you but don’t fret at all, they’re designed to be incredibly user-friendly and it’s where you order your food!
Don’t punish yourself by not allowing yourself happiness in moments when you’re feeling well enough. My handy hint as a technology-obsessed millennial: if you can’t leave the bed bring a charger cord no less than 1.5m in length and earphones.
Things operate more like crunchy peanut butter than smooth
Regardless of whether you knew you were going to be here or not, you want the best treatment/service, to feel better, and go home ASAP. The thing is though, the professionals dedicating their lives to helping you are doing their best. It’s easy to adopt a ‘woe is me’ attitude, I understand that, (I’m a millennial, remember) I understand it’s lonesome and scary, and my thoughts go out to those who for any reason can’t understand what is happening.
Nonetheless, no one really talks about how professionals are people. They’re really trying; they’re working as hard as they can to help lot of people; while occasionally dealing with their own issues. Sometimes specialists are going to be late and sometimes things get worse before they get better but they’re all there to help you and make sure you’re comfortable and involved in your care. If you have questions or concerns, speak up and make sure you play an active role in your treatment.
When feeling unwell, it can be difficult to determine the appropriate measures for your recovery. You will likely have many questions - do I need to stay home from work? Should I visit a GP? Do I need to go to the emergency department?
Recipes brought to you by the Epworth team. Seafood paella, easiest to cook on the BBQ to ensure you get that all important crust.
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For Margaret, it was an opportunity to give back to the hospital and staff that had cared for her husband until his final days.
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