Recovery is hard and so is hanging out at the hospital the whole time. I have established 10 things that all recovering people need to make the hospital the place to be. It really depends on the length of your stay, but this is probably a good list for 5+ days.
1.A good book.
Yes, yes I know that you’re thinking ‘why would I want to read when I could watch TV the whole time?’ Well, when you wake up at 4 AM and the same reruns of a HGTV show are playing back to back, believe me, you will be so tired or in pain that you will just want to be absorbed in a good book than be absorbed in real life.
2.Slippers or flip flops.
We have always chosen flip flops because once you are able to walk you don’t want to feel silly or be uncomfortable on the cold bare floor. Do you really want your bare feet on a hospital floor?
In this world this is kind of a given, but don’t forget the charger. You will want to talk or text people when you are able to and the phone will die quickly. You may change rooms during your stay so don’t forget it in the last room. As an added bonus, you should download a few games to play on your phone to pass some time. Computers also would be good for entertainment.
4.Your own pillow.
Yes, hospitals do supply pillows but under that thin pillow case is a plastic pillow. Every time you move you will hear it and it pools your sweat up. It’s so important to sleep that you will want to make it as comfortable as possible. Keep in mind that in many cases you can’t control the temperature of your room, take that into consideration when you choose your bedding/pillow.
5.Personal hygiene items
Another given: they do have some things at the hospital, but it is so nice to start having some of your own stuff around you. It may be a while before it’s used, if you have someone who can bring it later that would be ideal.
Although this last time we were lucky enough that have my husband in his own room, during the liver donation we were not. The shared rooms are often quite small. Voices and snoring really are bothersome when you are trying to rest, and sometimes you really just want to be alone. Everyone is on a different schedule, be courteous of theirs and expect the same.
When you are able to eat (talk to your doctor or nurse first too!) take a breath mint before exams. Most exams are very up close and personal. You will feel more at ease and they will appreciate the efforts you put in to make things a little better (don’t stress too much about it they have always seen or smelled worse, this is one reason nurses and doctors are amazing people).
My husband said to me every previous surgery to write everything down (or record it), but I am not there all the time. Having a notebook that you can write in or someone else can write in will be helpful in later days to remember the hard times and see the progress you are making. We also had sticky notes for when I had to leave and he had fallen asleep. I would tell him when I would be back and if anything happened while he was sleeping (include some love notes for bonus points).
For some, the rooms are hard to get cool at night. A good fan was key for a good sleep for my husband, being too hot (or too cold) will keep you awake and no one wants that.
10.A good attitude
After surgery and when you are in pain it is very hard to keep up the good spirits, but remember people will treat you the way you treat them. If you are happy and joking it will be that much better for you and for the staff at the hospital.
One quick story to prove my point. My husband loves to play jokes on people who are the serious type so, during the more recent surgery, when a nurse walked in with a ‘don’t mess with me’ type attitude I almost could see the smirk of anticipation on his face. She took his vitals and while she was taking his breathing count for 60 seconds my husband started slowing his breath until he was holding his breath. She kept looking at the clock and looking at my husband as if she just could not see it very well. When she was finished she was confused and just kind of scribbled down the same count that the nurse before had gotten. Later that day she came back and we told her what he did and we all laughed so hard about his little prank and after that she just loved to come and visit with us. I think we made her day a bit better.
When preparing for the recovery keep in mind the nights are long, the days are longer and the nurses love to check on you while you are sleeping. It may not be very comfortable but I hope this list can help you or someone you know have just a little bit of a better stay.
Comment anything you can think of to add to the list!