How to Survive a Hospital Stay
Being admitted to the hospital is never any fun. Nor is it easy to accept. But if you have lived with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)–such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (UC)–for any length of time, you know the pain of having to endure a hospital stay. If you have not yet, get ready! Because the odds are stacked against you.
The emotions of a hospital stay
When you are admitted to the hospital, you are swamped with all kinds of emotions. For me, I felt fearful, angry, sad, confused, worried and also hopeful. I was hopeful that I would finally find the relief I so desperately wanted. I had no idea how I was going to endure a hospital stay and I also had no idea how long I was in for. When it comes to IBD, nothing is predictable. Some people only have to stay a day or two, others may be in for weeks or months with no end in sight. So, what is a patient to do? How do you survive a hospital stay? I’m here to give you my best hospital stay tips!
Maintain a positive attitude
The first thing I want to tell you is to do your best to never ever lose heart. Most healthcare professionals (HCP’s) are there because they truly care about your wellbeing. There are, of course, a select few who have no business caring for the sick, but we will get to how to deal with them a little later. If you google “positive attitude and illness recovery” you will come back with millions of links that support the fact that the key to recovery is having a positive attitude. Those with a grim outlook often have a grim outcome as well. Do your very best to keep your spirits up during this time and you could greatly reduce your time in the hospital.
Kindness towards doctors and nurses
While I hated being in the hospital, I did my best not to take it out on the nurses who were there to care for me. I felt awful, but that did not mean I had to have a sour disposition toward the men and women who work long shifts just to make sure I am as comfortable as possible. When they came into the room, I would smile at them and ask them how their day was going. I would have conversations with them. When it was time for me to be discharged, many of them were sad to see me go. They would make comments like, “You’re the sweetest person on this floor. There are so many patients here who are really mean.” Do not take your caregivers for granted.
Dealing with bad HCP’s in the hospital
Now, it will not be easy dealing with HCP’s who are less than desirable, but you have to be kind to them as well. Remember, they have a lot of “power” over your health! Right after surgery, I was in the “stepdown” unit, which is one below ICU. I required a lot of care. But the nurse in charge that day let my medication run out several times and did not check on me as often as I needed. The best thing to do in that situation is to go to the “higher ups.” In my case, I let my doctor know what was going on and he made sure that the next nurse on duty was aware of my unique situation. If that fails, every hospital has a patient advocate and and head nurse. Speak to both of them. This is your health. If you do not take charge of that, who will?
Making light of the situation
Try to find ways to have fun in the hospital. Crack jokes with the staff. Have your family or friends bring you some books or movies to watch. Or just bring your computer with you and have a Netflix binge! If you are able, browse the hospital. After surgery, I was placed right across the hall from the maternity ward, so I would wander off to go see the new babies. It was great to see something precious and wonderful at a hospital when I was surrounded by illness.
Do you have any hospital tips? I’d love to hear how you make the best of your hospital stays! Leave a comment below!