One can learn a lot from an extended stay in the hospital. Here are my top ten lessons.
10. Modesty doesn’t exist in the hospital.
When I first arrived at the ER, a nurse informed me that they were going to cut off my clothes, and I remember thinking, “Gee, I hope there aren’t any boys in the room.”
On my last day in the hospital, I needed to go to the bathroom one more time before we left, so we called the nurse and a brand new lady whom I hadn’t seen in the past two weeks came in to help. I thought, “Oh, great! I haven’t had enough people help me go to the bathroom, I’m so glad a different person gets to help this last time.”
9. The blankets in the ER are the best because they keep them warm.
During my hours in the ER, I was either asking for more morphine or another warm blanket.
8. Math is important when deciding how much pain medication to give someone.
Nursing students, don’t fall asleep in your math classes. Numbers are very important especially when determining how much morphine to give your patient.
I was on the morphine pump, and the nurse told me I couldn’t overdose even if I continually pushed the button. It would only release the morphine every 10 minutes.
Well, I was in a lot of pain, so I pushed the button a lot. Eventually, I was hardly in any pain–in fact, I was pretty happy without a care in the world.
All I wanted to do was sleep, but every time I closed my eyes my oxygen levels would go down and alarms would go off and nurses would come running in my room.
Finally, they had to give me a drug that reversed all the effects of the morphine. I was not a happy camper then.
Once the nurses redid the math, they realized that I was getting twice as much morphine as I needed according to my height and weight.
So they cut my dosage in half, and I started pushing my happy button again, and I feel like my mom started double checking all my nurses did after that.
7. You should learn how to translate your pain into numbers.
Once I was at the hospital, a nurse asked me, “On a scale of 1-10, how bad is your pain? 1 would be no pain at all and 10 would be the worst pain you’ve felt in your life. If you need help deciding, we have smiley faces and frowny faces that correspond with each number.”
Well, since this is the first time in my life, I’ve been crushed inside my car, I’m gonna go with a 10. Yeah, no need for the pictures. 10 is my final answer.
They continued asking me this question probably like 4-5 times a day–maybe every hour. I just remember, I hated it.
Towards the end, I think I just picked random numbers in the middle because I was still in pain, but it was being managed well with lots of drugs. I’d usually go back and forth between a 5 and a 6. Sometimes I’d throw a 7 or a 4 in there to mix things up
6. Make friends with the nurses.
Be nice to the nurses, and your hospital stay will go much better.
One nurse brought in her whole DVD collection from home to help keep me occupied. Then she found the only DVD player on the floor and placed it in my room. She told me to call if anyone tried to take it from me.
5. Have a man on the inside.
A guy at our church happened to work in maintenance at the hospital. He came in handy on the sad day they finally had to remove my catheter.
A little side note: Looking back now, yes, I suppose it was super awkward to have a bag of your pee hanging on the side of your bed when you had visitors, and awkward when the cute male nurses assistant had to dump it. But in the hospital, convenience trumps everything, and when 3 of your 4 limbs are in casts, not having to move to go to the bathroom is very convenient.
So after they removed the catheter, the nurses tried to get me to go to the bathroom on a bedpan. That was impossible. Seventeen years of programming into my brain the dangers and pure horror of peeing in your bed would not be overcome so easily.
I had to go so bad, but I no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make myself go in the bedpan. I was in tears and so uncomfortable.
The nurses ordered me a bedside commode chair thing, but it was taking forever.
Dan came up to visit like he did on days he was working. He asked the usual how are you doing, and we told him the situation. Immediately, he said he knew where a bedside commode was and went to get it for me.
He was pretty much my hero. He might have saved my life that day.
4. Life’s not fair.
Let’s say you can’t eat for the first week your in the hospital and when you finally get to move out of ICU, they put you in a room with a girl chowing down on chicken fingers and fries–some of your favorite things. So yeah, that was fun.
3. Have the best parents ever.
On my second day in the hospital, they came to take more X-rays of my feet and wrist. This meant me having to move, and it was painful. About an hour after I finally got settled again, a different X-ray tech comes back to take more X-rays.
My dad was staying with me at the time, and promptly told the guy I just had X-rays done, and didn’t need anymore. The guy said he had orders, so my dad got the nurse and they both banished the evil X-ray guy from my room.
After I was moved to that room with the girl eating yummy food and whining whenever there wasn’t food in her mouth, my mom quickly negotiated my move to a non-shared hospital room. It was much nicer to have a room to myself.
Also, my mom only left the hospital twice in the entire two weeks I was there. She slept on this chair thing that folded out into a bed. She was awesome taking care of me, and my dad was amazing taking care of everyone else, so she could be there with me.
2. Don’t watch comedies when it hurts to laugh.
There is not much to do in the hospital besides watch TV and movies. The only thing on TV was the world waiting for a new Pope, so I watched a lot of movies.
My dad brought some videos of comedians. I forget their names, but they were hilarious. I tried to hold in my laughter, but I couldn’t. It was so funny–I mean all the drugs I was on might have helped make it more funny.
So maybe you should just push through the pain, and watch comedians when you’re in the hospital and on morphine. They say laughter is the best medicine anyways, so in the long run it probably helped.
1. Don’t fart in front of your crush.
And if you do, definitely don’t admit it. I’ll blame all of this on the large amounts of drugs I was on–they make you do crazy things.
Also, I’m only telling this story because it’s one of my mom’s favorites, and she would probably write about it in the comments anyways, so I’m just beating her to it.
In my defense, I was in a lot of pain and was not about to endure more pain by holding the gas in just because my crush was visiting. And let’s just be honest, I thought it would be silent. I was wrong.
After it happened, I didn’t know what to do. So I just giggled and admitted it was me.
He would have just let it slide, but I’m all about making situations more awkward. It’s a gift.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us. But it wasn’t my fault because I feel like I brought honesty in the relationship to a whole new level.
Bonus Lesson: Life is better when you have a sense of humor and are able to laugh at yourself.