Odds are that your first day in your hospital room is a blur. You don’t get there until halfway through the day and you are pretty out of it, so your first real taste of hospital life is likely your first morning.
Rule 1: Sleep is Constantly Interrupted
This is not deliberate, but it is unavoidable. The nurses have to check your vitals every so many hours. You have to take some medications at specific times, and believe me, if your pain meds run out and you will wake up to call for more. At least they don’t have to wake you up to take sleeping pills or pain killers anymore; that was seriously annoying.
Nurses also have a list of things to complete before they go off shift and hand you off to someone else. This means that they will have to do a full check on you before shift end, which does not always happen at a time convenient for you.
Rule 2: The Food Will Be Blah
These days, most hospitals let you select your meals, as long as your doctor has not restricted your diet. You usually get to put in your order for the following day, but the options are still pretty limited. You are usually served 3 meals per day and can select entrée, drink and dessert. John has often brought me food from outside or from the cafeteria, and as long as it was fairly healthy and didn’t smell strongly (see roommates), nobody minded. I also kept my stash of snacks and fruit in my drawer for when I was desperate.
Rule 3: Nurses Make the Rules
One of the hardest and most thankless jobs in the world is that of a nurse. You have to wipe bums and deal with vomit and blood. And the worst part is the patients who are miserable. Don’t get me wrong, I know they are not perfect; I have had some terrible ones. But when I sit back and look at what they do all day, I am amazed so many of them stay positive.
With that in mind, don’t mess with them. Be nice, be polite and most of all. be patient. I say this for your sake, because if you are not, some will make you pay. Different hospitals have different policies, in some only your nurse can assist you. This can be very frustrating when you ask for help and four different nurses just say “I will send your nurse”. I hate this policy. I know it has its purpose, but when I need the bathroom and my nurse is tied up for 45 minutes with an emergency in another room, I don’t want to hear it. But I try to remind myself that it is not their fault; they have to follow the rules or get into trouble.
Also, don’t forget they are not waitresses. While they will bring you a drink, a blanket, etc… Their primary role is that of health professional. Treat them accordingly and you will get better treatment.
Rule 4: Visitors are a Privilege
One of the reasons visiting hours are so restricted in some hospitals is because of how disruptive they can be. Visitors are guests and should behave accordingly. They are there to facilitate your wellness, and hopefully take some of the pressure off the staff. Make sure your visitors are good for you, and mindful of their surroundings. If your brother is a loud bore, maybe he shouldn’t come. It won’t make you feel any better and it certainly won’t do anything for those around you. You are healing; you are entitled to surround yourself with what makes you feel good.
In my experience, nurses don’t enforce the rules very firmly on a single, considerate and helpful visitor who is helping your recovery. They respect these visitors and value their role in the hospital ecosystem. If you have somebody that you want around regularly, encourage them to be that person.