Stressful Transitions II

Being admitted to hospital

Rushing to the E.R. is stressful, but being admitted to hospital has its own stresses, whether or not you know about your hospital stay in advance. If your admission is planned, such as for surgery or a test, you can prepare ahead of time. If not, you may need a family member or support person to help gather things from home. Here are the top items on our list:

  1. All of the medications and your med list. Sometimes hospitals will have your regular medications on hand right away, but in my experience it can take 24-48 hours for them to arrive from the hospital pharmacy. Bringing your medications ensures that you do not miss doses while you are waiting for the hospital’s gears to kick in.
  2. Insurance details. If you do not know about your coverage before hand, contact your insurer or ask hospital staff for help in doing so. Don’t forget to ask if your insurance covers a private or semi-private room and ask the hospital to put you on a list to get one if you can.
  3. Contact people who would normally expect to see you over the next few days, eg. your workplace, school, caregivers or home care provider. Of course, let your family know. You need their support! Ask hospital staff or a volunteer to help you with calls if you are not able. If friends ask what they can do to help, do NOT say that you don’t need anything. If nothing else, ask them to bring you the newspaper or some food–or tell them that it would be great if they could bring over a meal when you return home. It is ok to tell people that you do not feel up for a visit, but would really love it if they could drop off a magazine. If you have pets at home, ask a friend to take care of them.
  4. Comfort items. Even adults need things to make them feel better when they are sick or uncomfortable. Bring your favourite pillow with a soft pillowcase and a good book. Your iPod with an audio book and soothing music can be great for distraction when you don’t feel well enough to read. You can now download many audio books for free from the public library. We also like to bring a couple of framed photos of family. It keeps us smiling and gives hospital staff a way to start a conversation with us. Family photos also remind doctors and nurses that we are not just patients–we are people with full lives outside of the hospital bed.
  5. Last, but not least, remember your cell phone and your charger. Even though there will likely be a phone in your hospital room, we now rely on our cell phones for our family and friends’ phone numbers!

We hope this list improves your daily life in hospital. And that you get home soon!