Sometimes, hospital visits, including longer stays, are just an unfortunate part of life for medically complex kids, adults, and caregivers. You obviously don’t want to be there, but there may not be a way around it. Over the years, you’ve probably come up with your own list of ways to make hospital stays more bearable, but we want to add to that list and make it more comprehensive.
When a trip to the hospital is unavoidable, take action to make your visit more productive and comfortable. Why not make the best out of a bad situation, right?
Tips for Better Hospital Visits
- When necessary, embrace pain management: Responsibly controlling pain is a vital part of recovery. Ultimately, the kind of pain that keeps you up at night will only slow the healing process. When possible, follow the doctor-recommended pain management plan, staying on schedule, and tapering off when advised.
- Limit visitors to maximize rest: Seeing the people you love can be a beautiful, motivating thing. But it can also be exhausting, even if they have the best intentions. Try to limit large groups or long streams of visitors. You need to rest without any pressure to “entertain” or the compulsion to be polite.
- Designate someone to take notes: Designate a responsible note taker — ideally not the person receiving care. Being in the hospital can be overwhelming, even if you consider yourself a veteran to the process. That means that in the moment, it is easy for details to slip. Nip that issue in the bud with your very own amateur stenographer.
- Bring a file folder with relevant information: Compile all necessary information in one convenient folder. This might include things like medication lists, allergies, insurance information, advance directives, relative phone numbers, power of attorney, and more. This requires legwork, but you probably already have something like this on hand. Just make copies or create a folder on your mobile device to keep electronic copies of these documents handy at all times ! The next time you go to the hospital, even if it’s an unexpected trip, you’ll be fully prepared.
- Decorate the room: If you end up in the hospital during a holiday or birthday, liven up the room with decorations (balloons, streamers, signs, etc.). If it’s any other day, don’t hesitate to give the room a homey touch with cozy blankets, throw pillows, framed family pictures, and even air fresheners.
- Bring your own snacks: Give yourself the option for variety when it comes to food and snacks. Comfort food is a powerful mood booster, and sometimes the way to a better mood (maybe even a better prognosis) is through your taste buds.
- Wear ear plugs and a mask to sleep: Hospitals can be loud, and lights-out doesn’t always mean a silent night. Sleep is so important for recovery, so do everything you can to increase sleep quality and quantity. For instance, try using ear plugs and an eye mask to minimize distracting sounds and sights.
- Bring comfy pajamas: If you don’t have a pair of comfortable pajamas, buy some just for the purpose of improving your hospital visits. Why not be as cozy as possible? Whatever that means to you, roll with it. Fleece? Big sweatshirts? Fuzzy socks? Yes, yes, and yes.
- Have choices when it comes to reading material: Whether it’s reading material or coloring books for the kids, give yourself options. It can be nice to switch from one thing to another. If one book gets boring, then on to the next!
- Pre-load playlists and podcasts: Again, why not be prepared? In your day-to-day life, make a playlist of uplifting songs that you know will come in handy later. Start downloading exciting podcasts, too. Save them up for that moment when you could use a little treat.
- Bring an extra-long cable to plug in phones and laptops: This is frankly just a practical tip. At some point, you’re probably going to need a longer cable to reach the power outlet comfortably. Don’t get stuck charging your tablet halfway across the room.
- Don’t forget personal medical supplies you may need for the visit or the journey home! If you anticipate a long car ride or flight home, bring your feeding pump, portable oxygen concentrator, or other supplies that may be difficult to obtain during travel. Pack your Central line Vests or G-tube Wraps if you are using them, since your hospital may not be able to provide these.
Extra Tip: Be Kind to Your Medical Team
Don’t forget your nurses, technicians, staff, and doctors. They’re working hard to keep you healthy, so it never hurts to show a little appreciation. Consider having someone bring in coffee or cookies one day, or even just sending a little thank-you note to show your gratitude. Chances are, by doing so, you start a chain of more positive interactions that benefit both patients and caregivers.
Listen, here at Gus Gear, we know that hospital visits can be difficult and draining. Dreadful, really! Fortunately, with a little intentional effort, positivity, and help from loved ones, you can make things a bit more bearable.