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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Surviving The Hospital

Nurses should take a lesson from Flight Attendants:
If passengers are sleeping, they don't awaken them.


We are so fortunate to have some of the best and safest hospitals in the world. But with that said…. nothing is perfect. There are a few survival skills that are essential.


Patient’s Advocate:


Everyone in the hospital needs an advocate. Those in the bed are not able to listen, comprehend, and connect the dots of all going on. They close their eyes and nod to whatever is happening. Do not let them be alone.


I’ve been staying through the night with my husband to help him get to the restroom, get him water, tuck a pillow, rub his back, and for his comfort in knowing when he opens his eyes, there is someone there. I order his food, and pay attention to how he reacts to different diets. I’m there to pour his water and hand it to him to make sure he drinks. I’ll bring him a paper and sneak some of the outside world in for entertainment. I’ve been listening to all “five” of his doctors, and watching the nurses change shifts. When there are so many cooks in this kitchen, some things don’t transfer well… despite computers. I pay attention for him. Most importantly, his pump fails, the antibiotics need to be replenished and he can't hear the machine beep. Neither do the nurses. Multiple times through the night, I find them and let them know we need help.


Advocate’s Health:


Carrying for yourself, as you sit bedside, is essential. I say that knowing that some things are easier said than done, as I’m looking at empty Starbucks cups, and energy drink cans. You don’t sleep through the night, you’re stricken with worry that you can’t show to your patient, and honestly… hospitals are not the healthiest places to be. These are a few tips to keep the advocate healthy.


Daytime Escapes: When all physical needs are met, and the nurses are scheduling procedures, and tests are being done get out of the hospital. I go home and pay bills. I spent an hour cleaning the house one day, and washed sheets. I watered plants and went to the gym. Yesterday I snuck out and got a hair cut. A nice hot shower is best. One day I had a nice visit and cup of coffee with my friend, Linda. And remember to eat. I’m not doing that very well, but trying. Each day, I sneak out.


Exiting the Hospital:


Use a knuckle on the elevator button. Do you know how many germs are on the buttons? Gel up at every chance, but don't touch the buttons.

Park on the same floor. One day rolls into the next and you will lose your car. I park on floor D, for Dick. I always know where my car is when I come and go.


Be cognizant of cars coming and going in the garage. You will find all levels of stress, and some people aren't thinking as they blindly drive in panic.


Advocate for the Advocate:


If you know anyone sitting bedside through the night, offer to spend the night so they can get some sleep. My daughter came home for two nights and I cannot tell you how good that felt. I am good to go for the week, whatever that will bring.


Wandering the halls at night, you'll see many people waiting. Sometimes it's just nice to say hello. Know that they might just need to talk to someone. I met Debbie on our first visit, then accidentally went to the wrong floor after they'd moved my husband. But I ran into Debbie, again because of the wrong floor. This time she told me her father had just been removed from the ventilator. He wasn't going to make it through the night. These meetings put life into perspective.


Work:


You should not have to chose between work and staying with your loved one. But if you are faced with that choice....choose the person, fight the battles with the job later. Easier said than done, I know. But there will always be another job. You may never get that opportunity to be with them again. Life is too short.



Enjoy the journey!

XOX Karlene

14 comments:

  1. Sending good thoughts and rest.....

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    1. Thank you D.B. We got them... the rest will come.

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  2. I agree with your work comment. My husband was injured in a serious accident 13 years ago and my work (not the airlines) was pressing me to come back. As much of workaholic as I am I made the right (and easy choice) to be there for my husband. I have never regretted it and would do the same again. The work thing will work out. We're in your corner and holding you up Karlene!!

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    1. Thank you so much Lynn. You're right... the work thing will work out, one way or another. Thank you so much for being in my corner. Those extra hands holding me up are so very much appreciated.

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  3. i would like to send my best wishes to u and ur husband^^

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  4. Great advices, Karlene. The experiences you've made these few past weeks, and sharing them with your readers, will make hospital visits easier in the future :) Hoping for a quick recovery for Mr Petitt! I hope you get some rest too, we all need that!

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    1. Thank you Cecilie. I think we are on the downward slide, and hopefully slide right out that hospital door. It's time and sleep is in our future.

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  5. Every one of these points is so important! I hope people will spread the word, especially about how critical it is to have an advocate if you are a patient in the hospital. Dick is so lucky to have you as his advocate, and I know he knows that and so appreciates you. You can collect a nice payback later, when he feels good again. :-) p.s. I'm going to Tweet a link to this post (aren't you proud of me, learning to Tweet?)

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    1. lol. Yes... I am so proud of you learning to tweet. It's so nice to see you on twitter. Yes, we all need an advocate. And you know if anything ever happens, I'm just down the street and an experienced hospital goer. Thanks for everything Linda.

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  6. Karlene, your last statements hit home. Choose to be with family first. Life is too short. Deal with the job later. Take the empty Starbucks cups and energy drink cans. They will add up to something and not something of emptiness to be discarded. They are something that show that you are full of willingness to do whatever it takes to see that Mr. P. is well taken care of and your devotion to him. Your strength is amazing! May everyone's health/strength be restored and only good news from all fronts. -j

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    1. Thank you so much Jeremy. One day you will get to meet this wonderful man I'm caring for. Maybe all the world needs is a little more commitment between people so we're there for one another. Stacking a lifetime of those empty cans.

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  7. I love you last comment about work. It's so true. It's why I changed jobs last year. Now I am with my family 7 days a week. Nothing matters more than seeing my children daily. Take care Karlene.

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    1. Pilot, Thank you for the wonderful comment and sharing with us your strength of family first. Congratulations on the job change!

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  8. You are a saint, of the most powerful kind. This is wonderful advice and it made me tear up. I wish I could be there to help you both through this. And I couldn't agree more, we must always choose the person because in the end, that's what we live for, and what they live for.

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