Recently I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the hospital. Not myself personally, but first with my husband, and 2 weeks later, my father. When you find yourself waiting with someone for procedures, surgeries and recovery from surgeries, there is usually a lot of time spent waiting. Here are some practical things that I’ve learned- and hope that you can stay one step ahead if you find yourself in a similar situation.
When you are in the supportive role as friend, spouse, caregiver or son/daughter, you play an important part. Do not undervalue this. Some of the things you may be doing include:
- driving to various appointments and procedures
- translating at the hospital with staff
- waiting with the person so they aren’t lonely (or too bored)
- bringing snacks, books or magazines for the patient
- checking on pets, children or other members still at home
- providing childcare so that someone else may be at the hospital with the patient
- being a point person (person of contact) with hospital staff
- providing meals for other members waiting at home
- preparing patient’s home for their arrival back
- being a point person for updates for other concerned family members/extended family and friends
There were times when I was at the hospital for many hours at a time. The first time this happened, I was wearing my winter boots and skinny jeans. The next time this happened, I was dressed much differently. Yeah- it only took the once.
Personal tips on surviving a long day at the hospital
- Wear comfortable footwear. Something you can walk in for long distances, as parking is not always ideal.
- Wear layered clothes. The climate control in the hospital can be unpredictable from very warm to very chilly. Underline this point if you are having hot flashes due to menopause.
- Bring different types of cash: for parking, vending machines, coffee or snacks. Credit card is good too.
- Bring a deck of cards. There is no guarantee of WiFi.
- Bring a book to read. There is no guarantee of WiFi.
- Bring a thermos of coffee or tea or whatever (no alcohol!). When this is empty, you can rinse it out and use it for water, or tea.
- Bring a spare tea bag of your choice. I like to have both a caffeinated and herbal option.
- Have several little snacks that will keep at room temperature. Granola bars or protein bars, crackers etc.
- Make sure your phone is charged. Make sure your phone is turned off or on at the appropriate times. Make sure you can easily access your phone.
- Bring a pack of TicTacs or mints or something to freshen your breath.
- Bring a writing utensil and some scrap paper. You can write down any questions you may have, or you can play hangman at least.
- Bring your patience and compassion- not just for your patient, but for the staff too. They work long hours and deal with demanding patients already. The hospital is not a hotel and the staff is not a concierge counter.
- Small children should only be visiting for a short time. This is really best for all concerned.
- If you are waiting for a procedure during a weekend, be prepared for extra long waiting time- many services are not performed over the weekend and may be postponed to the workweek.
- Take little breaks to have a walk and use the restroom. It can be hard to sit for long periods.
- Wash your hands regularly- there are plenty of germs hanging around, including yours.
- Bring a small jar of hand cream- the hand sanitizers and soaps at the hospital can be very harsh on the skin.
- Be aware that the hospital may have regulations about fragrances in place- including flowers and essential oils.