Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Not Quite the Ritz

Making your hospital stay comfortable for everyone can be quite a challenge, even for a scheduled stay, as emotions are high leading up to the departure.  But the overnight stays that begin with a ride in the ambulance…that is a whole other problem


When Mighty Z was born and (finally) came home, every time we had an emergency, I was lucky to remember to bring my purse.  Now, twelve years later, I calmly pack our bags in an emergency and packing  for a scheduled stay has become second nature.


So what do you pack for a hospital stay?


First, I think about hospital smells that trigger lots of post-traumatic stress (PST) and I try to decrease the “smell of the hospital” in our room. When Mighty Z goes into the PICU or just the Vent Floor (the floor of the hospital dedicated to children who are on ventilators) we bring her own hospital gowns -- they are prettier, softer, smell like home -- and as Mighty Z sweetly appreciates that not everyone’s hinny(although Mighty Z does use another word that rhymes with grass, however this is a PG blog so we will use hinny)  has been rubbing all over it . I found some beautiful ‘Mighty Z approved’ hospital gowns from Annie&Isabel. She loves them, as they button on the arms and tie securely, so no private business is showing or hanging out.  They are beautiful soothing colors and they have pockets!


Another way we combat the ‘hospital smells’ is with our own sheets that we bring. Mighty Z likes them to coordinate with her hospital gowns. Think about this…when you are sick or in pain, don’t you just want to cuddle in your bed or on the sofa with your blankets? Well, with that in mind, we bring Mighty Z’s sheets and a blanket so we feel just a bit more comfortable. Mighty Z calls her orange blanket ‘puzzle’ and her purple blanket ‘Mister P.’


The second thing we bring when staying in the hospital is Ipad, Kindle and computers. It is SO BORING in the hospital! You sit, sit, sit, unless you are Z then you lay, lay, lay. Of course, you’re busy when the doctors are doing rounds and shift change, but other than that, well, it’s boring! Visitors are not just encouraged, but they are begged to come for a visit and long stay! If you don’t have an Ipad, Kindle or computer, most hospital’s will loan you one for FREE -- pretty nice, huh?


The third thing that we bring is snacks. Yes we all know no food in the PICU, NICU, CVICU or NTICU.  But I smuggle stuff up all the time and I am very careful to hide my chocolate eating, but hey, I am stressed and need a little help from my friend Mr. Hershey.


Being in the hospital is tough enough, especially if it is compounded with all sorts of stress and emotion. Most mothers will tell you that when you are at the hospital with one child, you feel guilty about the other child(ren) you have left behind at home in the care of others.  When you leave the hospital to spend time with the other child(ren), then you feel guilty for being home and not at the hospital. The only way Mighty Z’s daddy and I have been able to lift a bit of the guilt is with what we call the ‘changing of the guards.’ Mighty Z loves the ‘changing of the guards’ and so does Lala.  I stay with Mighty Z all night until about 11am when Mighty Z’s daddy brings Lala up to the hospital so she can see her sister and know that she is alright and that Lala is part of the team. I take Lala home and Mighty Z’s daddy stays with her at the hospital. Lauren and I go have lunch together come home and watch a movie (during which I always fall asleep)! Around three in the afternoon, Lala and I head back up and the changing of the guards happens again.


Finding a rhythm that works for the entire family, for those in the hospital and for those back at home, is import for everyone and ensures family bonding time can take place even during the stress of a hospital stay. Bringing the comforts of home to help drown out the hospital environment can, as Mighty Z says, feel as good as knowing you aren’t wearing a hospital gown that someone else’s (grass) hinny has been rubbing all over!
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