Thursday, July 15, 2010

A trip to the hospital, and you are......the family member

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Let's say that you have a family member who will be admitted to the hospital.  Your family member will be given very specific instructions about what to eat, what medications to take, and what to bring with them when they arrive at the hospital.  Let's say you get your family member registered and he or she is taken away for the scheduled procedure.  Now....what did you come prepared with for yourself?  Maybe the hospital has some magazines, perhaps there is one television that everyone from children to senior citizens are trying to watch.  Maybe the gift shop has something you can read....

Take it from a veteran who has worked in, and had too many family members make a trip to the hospital.  You have to come prepared to engage yourself.  Here is what I suggest that works very well for me.

If you have a laptop....BRING IT!  This is a very functional item for both you and the family and friends who are concerned about the individual requiring hospitalization. Here are things you can do with your Laptop:

-Start an email group with all the folks who have asked you to let them know how the 'Family Member' (aka FM) is doing.  As you get updates, go into your sent file, open the last email, press forward, cut and paste the email addresses or enter them again.  Give the update in the body of the email.  As you do this through the inpatient stay, people can see the progression of events that have taken place with your FM.  It saves you from answering the same question multiple times for others who are concerned.

-Some people start a blog and post directly on the blog for others to access.  Use the camera in your cell phone to take pictures that may be appropriate....and use wise judgement here.  You can send the pictures to your email account, save to your picture file, and then post it from there.

-Bring movies on DVD!  Now, since your computer bag only has so much room, take the disc's out of the hard plastic case, and put them into a paper case.  These paper cases are similar to the ones that CD's come in when you purchase new software. Be sure to bring Earbuds with you as well.  You don't want to disturb other's by being too noisy. 

-Social Networking:  Sites like Facebook are a place to post cryptic notes for your family and friends to see.  They often will make short comments with well wishes or email you privately.  It is nice to share the well wishes with the family member who is receiving needed care.  It is wonderful to see the bounty of well wishes that are offered to loved ones when they are in the hospital.

-Don't forget your power cord!

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Bring your cellphone along.  You will need this for several reasons.  When individuals are coming to the hospital for scheduled surgeries, the admitting staff member will most likely ask for a cell phone number.  For a recent hospitalization for my family member, they asked for the number so that they could call us when it was his turn to go into get his blood drawn.  They also used the number to locate me when they wanted to find me and update me several times during the inpatient stay whether I was in the building of not. 

I used it to text my children...who are very tech-savvy and had a good number of questions.  This happened even though they also received the emails.  As indicated before, you can take tasteful and appropriate pictures.  Sometimes family members will not remember a particular staff member who was very helpful, but with a picture they can and may wish to write a special note of thanks to them at a later time.  And finally, I did play a game on my phone as well! 

Some smartphones will let you download movies, and do all the emailing from the phone.  It's something to consider if you don't want to take your laptop.

If you will be spending the night, be sure to include your power cord!

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 Bring Snacks!:  Healthy snacks are a great idea.  I usually pack dried fruit such as apple slices, and raisins.  I also pack some other snacks that I fool myself into thinking are not too fattening!  It is usually things like Sweethearts and Licorice.  I also have packed fresh celery sticks, grapes, etc.  Why would you do this?  Because you are in an enclosed environment....and there is not a lot of price competition there!  Plus, you may be tempted to purchase and eat something that you may regret later (like those chocolate covered almonds I bought the other day!).  If you wish to eat in the snack bar, you could, but your can count on meals costing at least $3.00 if you just get a salad and water.  If you brought things for yourself, you could save the money for other things.

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You will need a drink!  You could use a Nalgene bottle, or bring a single bottled water.  There will most likely be many drinking fountains or sources of filling up the bottle when you need it.

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As you are in a hospital, you will need to make sure you keep yourself clean as well.  It is possible to purchase Hand sanitizers in small containers that can fit into a purse or your laptop bag.

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Consider bringing a book or scriptures.  There will be times that it will be cumbersome to use your laptop. 

Finally, bring some gum and or breath sure will appreciate anyone else who does!

Lastly, bring a prayerful heart.  I hope this helps you prepare for the next time you take a family member to the hospital.  Good luck!

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