Massage Therapy  with Dee Hiatt, 
Hospital Lessons from Me to You
August, 2002
Ever since I woke up in a Boston hospital with two, new, titanium alloy, hip joints in place, Iíve been thinking about what advice I would give to someone facing hospitalization. Hereís the list.

 Have an advocate/helper with you as often as you can. My husband George was invaluable to me as a helper, a witness, and an advocate. He was with me most of the day while I was in the acute care wing and stayed in the room with me in the rehab wing. Even in an excellent hospital there were problems that I was glad I did not have to handle alone.

 Know that you are in a vulnerable position. Dealing with pain, the unknown, and dependence takes its toll. I kept apologizing for being teary on my first day post-op after I had a scare. I kept trying to be my usual self when I wasnít my usual self. A nursing supervisor later in the day kindly assured me that my reactions were perfectly appropriate and healthy.

 Speak up if medications and treatments do not suit you. Often there are alternatives but youíll never know them if you donít speak. No one knows what you are experiencing better than you do. I needed a change of pain medication and did not state my symptoms loudly enough or soon enough to avoid a worsening of the symptoms.

 Ask what to reasonably expect in terms of service (how long to wait for someone to answer a call signal, for instance). And know what to do or whom to contact during the regular day and on weekends, evenings and nights if there are problems.

One of my call bells was fickle and didnít always work. That was a problem when I needed help getting to the bathroom. Fortunately that time George was there to rescue me. Having my telephone on the over-the-bed table where I could easily reach it gave me assurance that I had another way to summon help if need be.

 Bring to the hospital a small, Walkman-like CD player with earphones and your favorite music to relax you and to help you sleep. My little CD player was a last minute purchase on the way to the hospital. I was grateful for it every day of my stay and continued to use it during the first weeks of recovery at home. Even now just thinking of the music brings a peaceful dreaminess.

 Enjoy talking with the nurses, assistants, therapists, doctors, and other staff members. I found that a personal atmosphere was a benefit to them and to me.
© 2004, Dee Hiatt
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