Aug 12, 2009

The hospital experience (updated)

Again, thank you for all of the kind words and prayers. They've really meant a lot.

I don't know if I'll ever want to really write about the hospital experience – I don't think I've fully processed it yet, hence I'm still prone to bursting into tears when someone asks about it.

But, there are a few tips I do want to share:

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Everyone at the hospital was quite nice. Even the attending physician, who at first came off as rather brusque, turned out to be forthcoming and answered every single one of my questions with relative patience. The doctors in general were sometimes hard to track down, even for the nurses, but I never felt that they were negligent in their care.

Distraction is the name of the game. The hospital had a DVD player and TV for each patient, so that helped to provide constant distraction. Ditto for lots of small toys (new ones, especially) and books.

Sleep when your child sleeps. You won't sleep well, but a little sleep is better than none. And you'll need your rest, because the whole hospitalization thing is rather exhausting in and of itself.

Maintain perspective. Even in my darkest moments, I knew we were the lucky ones. My child's life was never in danger, while we saw other children who had chronic and/or life-threatening ailments. Some were clearly regular guests at the hospital, and arrived with their own blankets and pillows.

The nurses are your best friends. We were blessed with awesome nurses who were caring, attentive and competent, all at the same time. They tended to me, too, making sure that I was getting all of the information that I wanted as quickly as possible.

Be prepared for things to be hard when you get home. I was so focused on getting out of the hospital that I didn't stop to think that things would still be rough when we got home. But with medicine needing to be given every four hours, and my own emotions still all over the place, the first few days home were really tough. (Not to worry, things are definitely better now.)

I forgot to include this last tip:

Check on the availability of any prescriptions you receive upon discharge before leaving. We left with a prescription for a medication that needed to be given every four hours, but it turned out the medication isn't generally stocked because it's not prescribed very often. Every pharmacy near our house could get it the next day, but that wasn't going to help me administer the medication that night. The only place I could get the medication was at the pharmacy back at the hospital (a 45 minute drive each way in rush hour traffic), and that pharmacy turned out not to be contracted with our insurance company so I had to pay a pretty hefty amount out of pocket. If only I'd known that I wouldn't be able to get the prescription filled near home, I could have saved myself an extra hour and a half in the car. At least the pharmacist was thoughtful enough to recommend only getting a partial fill, and I was able to get the rest of the prescription at a local pharmacy that was covered by our insurance the next day.


Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

Thanks for the little updates here and there. I'm so glad to hear everyone is okay. Been thinking about you!

katy said...

Thanks for sharing the tips. I hope I never have to use them.
Take care of yourself and your son.

Mar said...

I'm glad it's better now. My daughter is almost 14 but I still remember many of the details from when she was hospitalized at 2.5 years old for a throat abcess that required two surgeries, 7 nights in the hospital, etc. Life that week was insane but I totally agree with you that you must be your child's advocate, the nurses are your best friends, distracting toys and videos are wonderful, and you take care of you (eating, sleeping, etc.) when your child is asleep. I had some wonderful friends who would come over for an hour or two and bring food or snacks and some very supportive sisters, even though we weren't especially close at that time. One hospital staffer even copied my tax returns for me because it was mid-April and I had been holding my return until April 15 because I owed money that year. You really start to appreciate the kindness of others in this situation. May neither of us (or anyone else who reads this blog) have to go through this again.

P.S. However, if you do, may I suggest that you try to avoid having your child get sick on Easter Sunday and the 2nd day of Passover, requiring admission to a hospital affiliated with a particular religion (Jewish in our case, although not all the staff were Jewish). I'm just saying...