A reader recently learned a few things about hospitals the hard way. Here is her story.
Hi WHN –
I just wanted to share some things I learned during a hospital stay so others might avoid similar unpleasantness.
It started with an upset stomach that I thought would go away. After a few days and lots of pink liquid, it became apparent that it wasn’t going anywhere. It seemed like a good idea to visit the Emergency Room.
That’s where the experience turned into something I won’t forget.
Of course, there was the normal waiting in the curtained room. However; it was freezing, and I was wearing a thin sheet of cotton that IS the hospital gown. I looked everywhere in the small room for a blanket. Nothing.
- WHN TIP: If you have a chance, bring a blanket with you to the ER. Or, look for the blanket before the nurse leaves you in the curtained room. If there isn’t one visible, ask for a blanket right away. You don’t know how long you will be there and it could be very cold.
The doctor came in after what seemed like hours (hospital minutes can feel like hours). Since I was obviously dehydrated and weak, it was recommended that I be admitted. (At this point, I was ready to let someone take care of me, especially if it meant I could lie down under a blanket.)
- WHN TIP: Talk to the nurses who will be taking care of you in the hospital. In my case, I should have made a point of explaining my nausea and what it might mean for meal selections. I didn’t do that, but I will if this type of situation ever happens again because…….
I must have been slated for “regular meals” or something of the sort. The first day, that didn’t seem obvious to me. The food was bland and I could get some of it down. With the IV and some solid food, I felt hopeful.
That didn’t last. The second day, when I thought I might be getting stronger and the diagnosed stomach virus might be waning, things went downhill. Breakfast was a cold, hard bagel and cold hard-boiled eggs. Okay, that is bland, but not exactly appealing. (Again, I emphasize, talk to the nurses when things don’t seem right. Besides waking me at all hours to take my vital signs, they seemed to have my best interests at heart.)
Lunch on the second day made me realize that I hadn’t been managing my own care very well. Chili arrived. Not chili that you might recognize, but a mixture of red stuff, lumps of what might have been meat and miscellaneous vegetables. (If you have ever been nauseous and faced with something that looked disgusting, you know how I felt. I was ready to swear off solid food for life.)
- WHN TIP: Remember that you have the right to individualized care. Although the staff has a schedule of assigned tasks, if you feel uneasy about your care, say something. Use the call button next to your bed and be proactive, even though you may not think you are up to it.
Dinner was my last hope. I wanted to keep solid food down since that was a criteria for going home. It was supposed to be chicken, but I’m really not sure what it was. My goal was simple – eat it.
I was finally discharged after two days that felt more like two weeks. I promised the doctor my nausea was better and I was ready to go home. At home the next day, I still needed help to get around and I couldn’t eat much, but at least I was out. It was a great learning experience for the future.
- WHN TIP: Be ready to take control of your health care. Remember to ask for what you want when you want it. If you don’t say anything, you could wait for hours. The staff is probably busy, but they can’t help if you don’t tell them what you need. This doesn’t mean you should be demanding beyond reason, but using common sense as a guide, you shouldn’t have to go without answers to your questions, help with your pain or other comfort issues and the feeling that you received the best possible care.
– Thanks for the advice!
If you have experiences you’d like to share, email me!