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.
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.
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.
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.