"Getting out of the hospital is a lot like resigning from a book club. You're not out of it until the computer says you're out of it." ~ Erma Bombeck, American Journalist (1927 - 1996)
Unless for giving birth, and for those who are medical professionals, my guess is that going to a hospital, even to visit someone, is not high on a desired destination or experience for most of us. I say "most of us", as I, too, was not someone who thought yippee, let's go to the hospital on any occasion. Once, when selected for the Tampa General Hospital White Coat Internship Program, I was thrilled to get to go to the hospital, and yet that was quite a different experience from what I just had.
Being a living kidney donor (something I'll share in a Lessons Learned later in the year, as I am still in the process of recovering and learning), and doing it during COVID-19, meant I was alone, without a companion at the start or visitors throughout.
Based on what I experienced, the lessons learned for future hospital experiences and for anyone else include:
- Ensure you take notes about what to expect (ask a lot of questions of each person in the process) prior to the day of your check-in
- With every professional, at the end of your pre-hospital visit, ask "Is there a question I have not asked that you think would be good to ask?"
- Take the following with you: your notebook of information, including your insurance card, a robe (to cover your backside), a comb or brush, glasses (if you require them) earbuds that are charged or plug into your phone, your phone, and an app on your phone for sound/sound machine (everything else is likely extra weight, as the hospital will provide most everything else
- Arrive on time, without being rushed, and then expect to wait
- Make eye contact and call everyone by name in order to gain a sense of familiarity, as the people in the hospital are the only people you may see
- Ask each person "NAME, how long have you been here, and do you love what you do?" (It will tell you a lot about their attitude toward their work, and possibly, you)
- Be your own health advocate. While you may feel vulnerable and compromised, nobody knows you like you, and nobody will speak up for you the way you can/will
- Ask what tests and other actions are for, meaning not just asking "What are you doing", ask "What does this tell you?"
- Be a patient patient, meaning smile, be kind, know that getting demanding may be necessary in the end, but starting that way will not make you a good patient, rather that could make others lose their patience with you
- Leave as soon as possible so you can get rest (ensure you have your medication and clear instructions prior to leaving, along with the specific phone number to call if you have questions during the week and on weekends
While few hospital stays are perfect, those ten lessons learned will likely ease your concerns, keep your stress in check, and position you for the best sense of a good stay while you make your way to your best health!