Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sara's Take: Making Hospital Stays Bearable

Similar to one of the Project Linus Blankets we have!
To say the most tactful thing, we've visited our clinic and hospital to the point that we're on a first name basis with staff members.  When Eva was roughly 4-5 months old, she got the nastiest strain of Rotovirus you can imagine.  We spent the 3 weeks surrounding Easter enjoying all sorts of fun as poor Eva attempted to keep even Pedialyte down.  Have you ever tried to keep an iv port in a baby? SO INCREDIBLY FUN!

She also had a few other stays that were at least over night (passing out from fevers or flu's, etc) and both of my kids had some minor surgeries in the last year (tonsils/adenoids out, and tubes in ears).  So we have a bit of a handle on hospital stays, I would say.  Here are a few of my tips to keep life sane during the stay and you from wanting to shriek in the bathroom.

1.  The hospital here in Vermillion is LUCKY to have a group of nurses and doctors who ALL have great kid skills.  They let our kids explore their stethoscopes, keep us supplied with clean towels and blankets, and honor you if you say "No people right now.  My kid needs sleep."  When Eva would wake up for the bathroom, something to drink, etc., overnight, I would send for the nurse to do her round THEN.  It was so much easier.

2.  Our hospital has two team members that work specifically with child patients to make their stay more fun, relaxing, and easy.  They bring a little 'doctors bag' for your child each time, so they can play with that and see what doctors and nurses will be doing.  They have awesome toy boxes for the kids to have a selection of toys to play with, and at the end of the stay, your child gets to pick out a special new toy for being so brave. (I've often wondered if this backfires on some kids and makes them WANT to stay overnight- tee hee!)

One of the books our hospital gave Eva when she was there with a bad flu.
3.  Our hospital always gives kids their choice of a Project Linus blanket and a copy of the book "I Can Go To The Hospital!".  To this day (Eva got it at 3 1/2 when she had her tonsils out), it remains in her top 10 favorite books.  I'm NOT joking.

4.  I will say Shelly is right, try to get a shower or at least a clean up and 5 minutes to yourself.  Luckily, most of her hospital visits happened before Owen was born, so I could alternate schedules with Nolan. If the nurses had a spare moment, I'd ask if they minded me going outside for a 5 minute walk to clear my head, and a lot of times they'd send a nurse or a CNA to hang with her for a few minutes.  It really helped me clear my head and make better decisions if I was cleaned up and had a few minutes with myself.

5.  We bring along our kids' fave pjs, their fave blanket and stuffed toy to sleep with, and some movies/toys of their choice.  We also brought along a book or two and some coloring stuff.  Both kids are VERY into coloring now, so it's always a distraction.  If we can, whomever is in the hospital (Eva or Owen) can take a little walk around the hospital to see everything and get out of the room.  REALLY useful if you have kids like mine, who get cabin fever every 3 minutes.

6.  Don't forget to eat.  Not fast food, but good fruits, grains, veggies, protein to make sure you are energized and keeping yourself healthy.  Drink plenty of water and tea to keep your head clear.  Pack your hand sanitizer for you.  If you take a multivitamin, throw it in with your stuff.  Keeping yourself healthy is best for yours kids AND you.

7.  Bring along something for you, but like Shelly said, disconnect or unplug for a bit.  Use this as a chance to read a couple chapters in a book you wanted to read, if you write or journal, bring that along too.  Just have as relaxing of a time as you can.  Stay calm, stay educated about what is going on, and make sure you treat people with respect.  I KNOW how frustrating it can get, but if you stay calm, your kids can get better faster and it will help you to not be the parent the staff dreads speaking to.  That is NOT what you want.

**Speaking from experience on that one.**

8.  Remember that you KNOW your child BEST.  If you feel like a treatment isn't working  or comfortable for you as a parent or your child, speak up.  Keep calm and discuss.  There may be a reason behind a treatment you didn't realize, or it may be unnecessary.  If it's the latter, stand your ground both firmly and tactfully.  Show your respect to your staff and they will respect you.  It's part of that golden rule!

Remember that the time there will be short, even if it feels like an eternity.  Spend special time with your child, make sure your other kids get some special attention too, and make sure you let yourself relax.  In the end, everyone will get better and soon life resumes as normal. :)

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