As you might have noticed, there was no post on Monday. Unfortunately, that was because I was in the hospital. On Saturday night I suffered a pretty bad asthma attack that we couldn’t get under control in the ER (even after an hour long treatment of albuterol, which is a LOT of medication). So, there was no choice-I was admitted. Luckily, I was able to recover fairly quickly, and I was discharged late last night. But now that I’m home, I thought I would share a couple things that you can do to help out friends or family while they are in the hospital.
- Lip Balm. I was on oxygen for the majority of my stay, and that will really dry everything out. The inside of my nose, as you might imagine, is going to take a few days to recover, but I was surprised at how much being on oxygen also affected my lips. My husband brought me some balm and I used over half a tube in the few days I was in there. One of the things respiratory patients do is work on controlled breathing. We do a lot of inhale through the nose and exhale through pursed lips for twice as long as the inhale. Considering hospitals are kind of dry anyway, nothing provided that beautiful momentary relief like a tube of chapstick.
- A Book or Two. There’s not a lot to do in the hospital. At some point you will be better enough to be bored, but not well enough to go home. Sure there’s a TV in the room, but that will get old quickly. You might have visitors, but those are also not filling your day. What you need is a good book of some sort. Now I’m not saying just a book to read. Maybe you’re into crossword puzzles or Sudoku or word searches. Those are books too. You’re going to want something like that to help keep you occupied. The time goes by very slowly otherwise. Also, I would suggest having two books and that they are different kinds of books. That way, if you get bored of one, you have something to switch to.
- Toothbrush. The hospital will provide you with a toothbrush if you don’t have yours. It will be the most basic thing you have ever laid eyes on. It sort of reminded me of a toy toothbrush that you might give a child. I know that some people won’t care, but I really would have preferred my own toothbrush instead of the hospital issue one. Same goes for toothpaste. If you’re picky at all about it, ask someone to bring in yours. It’s the little home touches that can really improve your experience.
- Hairbrush. Again, the hospital will provide you with a brush and comb, but they are not awesome. The brush is one of those yellow handled things that has the super soft bristles. I know you know exactly the brush I am talking about. My hair would totally eat that and laugh. The comb is just like the combs that would be offered on picture day. I’ve never been someone that could use a comb, so I can’t really comment on how well that would work. Once more, it’s just these little home comforts that can help make your experience a little more positive.
- Cell Phone. You may not get visitors often, but you can text people when you get bored! For me, the only person that could visit was my husband. All my friends and family were too far away for that to even be an option. However, with my phone I was able to text my parents and brother to keep me sane and keep them in the loop. It helped pass the time and made me feel a little less lonely. Don’t forget your charger. Ask a nurse where you can plug it in when you need to.
- Underwear. Wearing the same underwear for days on end can make you feel gross at a time when you already feel gross. One of the nurses offered me hospital issue underwear, and I didn’t even ask to see it. Have someone bring you an extra pair or two so you can feel clean. Underwear is not something I would have thought about prior to this stay, but it really was an excellent comfort to have access to.
When it’s time to go home, here are a few more things that can be helpful.
- Rubbing Alcohol/Acetate. When you’re in the hospital, a lot of things get taped to you: IVs, heart monitors, pulseoximeteres; and all of those things leave a sticky residue that is hard to remove. Rubbing alcohol or acetate (nail polish remover) can help remove that sticky residue without rubbing your skin raw. It will dry your skin out, though, so be sure to have some lotion to apply afterward.
- Comfort Food Have the person that is picking you up have dinner/lunch/a snack ready when you get home. Hospital food isn’t terrible, but being able to have a slice of pizza when you get home is heavenly. Make coming home as easy as possible. While you’re well enough to be home, you’re probably not 100%, so these little things can help take the stress off your return.
- A Well Stocked Night Stand. The first night home will be a little interesting. In the hospital, people are constantly waking you up to take vitals, give medications, and draw blood. No one is going to be doing that when you get home, but you might still have night time needs. Before you go to bed, make sure you have everything accessible and ready to go. You don’t want to wake up in a panic because you need a medication, but don’t remember where you left it. Make sure to have lots of water on hand. Your nose/throat/mouth area will probably still be very dry, and you’ll want water. I also made sure my night stand had my “rescue” remedies (a rescue inhaler and my nebulizer plus albuterol) in case I found myself in distress. This way I was ready for any situation that might arise during the night, and didn’t have to make things more stressful because I didn’t have immediate access to what I needed.
Hopefully these are all tips that you will never have to use, but, let’s face it, you’re likely to know someone who ends up in the hospital for one reason or another. These little things can really make being in the hospital, and returning from the hospital a lot easier to deal with.