Thursday, September 26, 2013

LUMBAR FUSION - when you go it alone

Some hospitals should have a sign over the door:

Lotsa luck if you come here without a relative to run interference for you.

There is one good thing about going to the hospital when the nearest relative is hundreds of miles away:  the nurses and doctors have to look at ME instead of my relative when they speak.  Unfortunately, that has  meant I had to fight my own battles.  After doing that in three hospitals in three months last year, I should be tough enough to run for Congress.

Here are some things I learned:

The nurses and aides in all three hospitals were nice.  And some were very, very tired.
Or just overworked.  

Before you go into the hospital:

Do not take any medicine with you unless you are positive you will need it during your stay.
The most humiliating multi-episode problem was explaining to two male persons how older women use a certain cream.  During the first episode, almost a hundred dollars worth of the stuff was splattered on the bed.  Was my insurer charged for this?

Before you go in, insist that your doctor or his assistant  tells you what you will need to wear and if you will be able to get clothes on 
over your incision, brace, or whatever.  I wore the same pants during my entire stay in post-op rehab because I had to be in the halls and even in the yard, so fluffy housecoats or hospital gowns were out, and only this one pair of knit pants would fit over the enormous brace I had to wear.

Tell your surgeon or the admitting doctor or anyone in charge if you have special food needs, for example five or six small meals (instead of three big ones) if you have a hiatal hernia.  Then tell him again.   The first couple of days, I couldn't reach my tray, and didn't have the energy to complain or eat.  When I could actually eat, in all three hospitals, I had to ask repeatedly  for yogurt for my extra small meals.   Also, we were graded in rehab on what percentage of our tray we finished - I guess no one got the memo on the small meals.

Practice saying this fast:  Please give me my book, glasses,  water, cell phone, and my call button!
Hospitals are not hiring extra staff, so nurses and aides are in a hurry. And you may not have a nightstands for your things.  At any given time in the surgery hospital and especially rehab, I could not reach my food or some or most of the above.   

Practice Calling "Help!" 

After you're admitted, Do not be afraid to yell HELP if you are stranded in a chair or wheelchair far from your call button.   
A hospital is no place to be Mrs. Too Polite or Mr. Calm Executive.   Call for help before it's an emergency.

If I had asked oftener and quicker for all I needed, I might not be complaining so much now!!

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