During the last few years I’ve spent in more than my fair share of time waiting in a loved one’s hospital room. As a result, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in the waiting experience. Instead of hording this knowledge I figured it would be beneficial to share.
- Dress comfortably – wear loose-fitting clothes and comfortable shoes to optimize your comfort in the hospital room chairs.
- Connect with the staff –stop by the nurse’s station when you first arrive. Ask what time they think the doctor might make rounds, or if they already have what did they say. Check in with them from time to time to see if there are any updates. Let them know if you have to leave the room for any reason, like going to the cafeteria for a bite to eat, and give them your cell phone number in case the doctor should arrive on the unit just after you stepped off.
- Bring something to pass the time – bringing a book to read (or puzzle book); downloading games on your phone can help fill the wait time. Make sure to bring the charger for your phone or computer just in case your battery starts to drain.
- Be prepared to spend the day – sometimes things go exactly as planned and you get to speak with doctors shortly after you arrive and/or any scheduled tests are done in a timely manner, however; more often than not, there are unforeseen circumstances that can delay tests and push back doctor rounds. My aunt had a specialist who liked to do rounds at 9pm. Sometimes I was at the hospital for 12 hours waiting to speak to all of her doctors.
- Make sure the kids are taken care of – schedule others to drop off/pick up your kids from school or extra-curricular activities.
- Protect your back – bringing a small pillow for your back can ease the pressure caused by uncomfortable chairs.
- Stay hydrated and nourished – a small cooler bag with water/soda and snacks will help you keep your energy up and keep you from spending unwanted cash in the hospital cafeteria.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – We often forget that the doctor works for us and will be billing for their time. Write down your questions and make sure you ask all of them.
- Take notes – Jotting down important information can help you recall things that were said later. Don’t be embarrassed to write things down. A lot of information is coming at you and it is important for you to remember what has been said. Ask them to repeat the information and/or spell names of medications, tests and diagnoses. A
- Ask them to explain – if you don’t understand something that is said, tell them. You are not expected to know medical jargon or what every test is for. Ask them the reasoning why they are running certain tests, what they expect to find out from the test and how quickly you will be able to get the results of those tests.
- Create a mass information system – whether through Twitter/ Facebook, bulk email/text, let others know ahead of time which method of communication you will be utilizing to keep others updated. This will keep you from having to make multiple phone calls to share the same information.
When someone is in the hospital it can be nerve-racking. Being pro-active about filling your wait time and communication methods can ease some of the stress.