Thursday, May 10, 2007

Random Reflections on the Hospital

We have returned home tonight from 25 days in the hospital. During that time, Terry was in 5 different rooms on 3 different floors and had a ton of tests and x-rays, and he had one surgery. He was visited daily by no less than 5 doctors and as many as 8. Since most of the doctors were from practices with multiple members, he didn't see the same specialist each day. Actually he saw over 20 doctors and added at least 5 new medications to his daily allotment. We have returned home exhausted from the experience. We think Terry is healthier, but he still has issues that aren't resolved and may never be. Seems the origin of his problems is still vague, and he isn't willing to do everything the doctors suggest might help. The big sticking point is the BiPap machine. He is claustrophobic and insists he couldn't get used to it. I tend to agree, and I don't see forcing it. He has managed this long, and he may not live as long as he would if he used the machine, but who's to say? Being fat is also a danger to your health, I'm told, and I'm not dieting! Anyway, I doubt the BiPap machine is going to solve the fluid in the lungs problem or the colitis.

The hospital where we were is a very nice one and well-kept. All the personnel were friendly and eager to make sure we were satisfied. They provided me a bed so I could stay when Terry was in a private room. It was a very uncomfortable roll-away bed, but it was better than sleeping in a chair. The dietary staff bent over backward to try to find something my unhungry and newly picky husband would eat. Since he was sick from the staph infection last winter, food doesn't taste like it used to, and he doesn't like much anymore. They brought him soup, oatmeal, and bananas every day so that he would at least eat something.

The nurses were all very efficient, and most were very friendly. Some were more solicitous than others, but they were all spread pretty thin, as were the aides. Some of them were great, others not so much. However, because they were so busy, sometimes Terry had to wait way too long when he needed help. That's one reason that I stayed when I could.

They do things at weird hours in hospitals. Blood is drawn between 3 and 4 in the morning. Blood pressure and blood sugar are checked at 5 A.M. for the first time of the day. A CT scan was done at 8 in the evening.

Cafeteria food is pretty good, but it is expensive when you must eat it 2-3 meals a day. After the first week, you've seen their whole rotation, and it gets pretty old. It's hard to force yourself to eat healthy meals at all times, especially when they have these neat pudding parfaits on display every day. The hospital where we were didn't have a lot of places nearby to eat that you could walk to easily, so unless I took the kids out somewhere, I usually ate there. I was able to take the food upstairs, though, and eat with Terry, which was nice. I could even do this when he was in the Open Heart Unit. (No, there wasn't a problem with his heart, but his surgeon is a heart, thoracic, and vascular surgeon, and he likes his patients to recover in the OHU.)

I was very appreciative of the fact that I was welcomed and catered to and that nobody seemed to think that I was in the way. It was okay if I helped out, but it wasn't expected of me. All of our questions were patiently answered by anyone.

Doctors don't have answers for everything, but they try. In the past, we have had some problems with the attitudes of some doctors, but this time they tried their best to explain when they could and admitted it when they couldn't. I think they did prescribe more medications than Terry needs, but we can work that out later. They all seem to want us to make a follow-up visit, but we'll probably only see a few of them.

Things seem to accumulate when you spend a lot of time at the hospital. We went in with just a little bit, and when we got home tonight, it took me three trips to haul in all the stuff! The nurse told us to take all the medical supplies that were left in the room, even the scissors and tweezers. She even gave me two rolls of tape that were in her uniform pocket!

The hospital setting is very confining, and I was itching to get outside and experience the lovely spring air, but there was no place to sit outside that was easily accessible, except for the smoking hut. That will be discontinued next month, but you'd be surprised how many sick patients make their way out to that smoking hut to get their many fixes each day.

I guess that's enough's all in the past, at least for now. And life is good....


Alissa said...

Home is the best place to be :-)

Susie said...

Hi Nancy,
You two have been through the mill and back the last few weeks. My prayers are with you both as you return to "normal" Hope Terry makes a quick and full recovery.
Sending you big ((hugs)). Hope your Mother's Day is filled with blessings.
Life is good indeed..
I'll email you soon..