PRACTICAL TIPS AND TRICKS: HOSPITAL EDITION
These tips are general (as many depend on why you or a loved one might be in the hospital) and also more logistical (as I am not authorized to give medical advice over the interwebs). This is by no means comprehensive, and I've left off what I consider to be obvious: be extra kind to your nurses, ask questions, take your meds, get out of bed, etc.
- •Never describe your pain as a 11 or higher out of 10. In fact, if you can avoid it, don't say 10/10.Try to save your 10, even if you can't imagine worse pain (I am personally guilty of not adhering to my own rule here, and I regretted it). And stick to the scale -- the only thing you're telling a provider when you say you have 15 out of 10 pain is that you are prone to hyperbole. Plus, then we can't really trend improvement on your own personal brand of pain scale. Also, resist the temptation to joke about your 20 out of 10 pain by knowing that the joke has definitely been made before.
- •Saline flushes (the stuff they use to make sure your IV is still working) are very similar to your contact solution.There is always saline in a hospital. Ask for some to store your contacts, wash them out, or if your eyes are just dry.
- •Bring snap pajamas for babies and infants.This allows them to wear their home clothes even with all the wires and vital sign checks.
- •Do not be afraid to ask for the doctor, but know why you are asking for them.It's not like going to a supervisor because you're disappointed with service. If you're having a problem with your nurse or your room, the charge nurse is your best bet. If you want to know when you're going to the OR, often your nurse knows better than the doctor. If you're having nausea, make sure your doctor knows, buuuut your nurse is the one who can give medications. Nurses run shit, is basically what I'm saying. Get the doctor for changes in your medical state.
- •Warmed blankets are everyone's friend.Many hospitals have a little oven (often in the OR and recovery areas) to cook up nice toasty blankets. They are one of the nicest things in the world. When my arm was broken and mangled and I was all kinds of scared and in pain, the first thing I asked for was a warmed blanket. Then dilaudid. But I had my priorities straight.
- •If you will be having a long stay in one place, it's a smart idea to bring in small treats for the healthcare team.You certainly shouldn't feel obligated to feed the team, but a bag of candy for the nurses and doctors goes a really long way. This work can be very thankless and exhausting, and the small gesture of sustenance will mean a ton (and the whole team WILL hear about it). Please note: this won't guarantee better care or more attention. But it definitely won't hurt and it will make the team think of you fondly. As with everything else in life, things are easier when people like you.
- •Sleep accessories.The hospital, paradoxically, is one of the worst places to get rest. Even for a short stay, it's a good idea to bringing a white noise app/small fan, eye shades (if you're not having surgery on your brain), and to ask your doctor for something to help if you still aren't sleeping.
- •If you are peeing a ton, ask your doctor or nurse if you can turn down your fluids.IV fluids are often ordered at a high rate as a perfunctory point on admission. Sometimes the answer will be no, but it is worth an ask if you're sick of the hassle to the bathroom/commode/bedpan.
- •Ask the most junior doctor or the medical student about cafeteria hours and food options.They are there for the most hours and make the least money. They will know.
- •You can order food to a hospital; they will deliver (so will Amazon Prime Now).Trust me, I do this all the time.
- •Consider spending a very worthwhile $15 on long phone charger cords.This isn't a bad thing to have around anyway, but is invaluable when you're bed bound and the outlet is far away.
- •Find out where the non-secure staircase is -- do not get stuck in a locked stairwell, though, because that's the pits.Especially around change of shift, elevators can be crowded and really slow. If you are headed to floor 2, or even more so, headed down from there, the stairs can save you time and aggravation.
- •Do not wear scrubs in the hospital unless you are required to for your job. And you are coming straight from your job.The motivations that people have for doing this are weird: maybe to project belonging or expertise? Scrubs are definitely comfortable, but so are yoga pants and sweats. Unless you are arriving directly from your job as a veterinary technician, this will be perceived as strange.
- •Find out what time change of shift (aka handoff aka sign out aka report) is and try to respect it, if you can.Babies are born at shift change and people code 10 minutes into sign out. That's unavoidable. But if it's a non-urgent issue, bring it up at least an hour before or after sign out. It allows for safer handoffs (so that information is communicated fully between night and day teams), means your issue will be addressed in a timely fashion, and is just respectful of the people who would like to get home after working all day/night. It's also useful info for you to have about the flow of the day.