A lot of people complain about being in hospital, but despite being there because things aren’t great, there are some pretty decent perks that come along with admission. From breakfast in bed to warm blankets on demand, here’s my list of silver linings to look out for during your next hospital stay.
1. Naps Are Encouraged
Once all the tests are done, you’ve answered the three thousand or so pre-admission questions, and beyond all hope someone has managed to find you a bed somewhere in the building, it’s all about rest. Even more so if your blood pressure drops enough and you’re bound to your bed. There were a few weeks where I wasn’t even allowed to go to the loo without having a nurse stand next to me. But between the tests, tubes and doctor’s rounds, I was told to sleep. Obviously this is easier to do when you’re not waiting for your next bottle of Albumin to run out and cause the IV machine scream at you, but it’s nice to be able to drift off without feeling guilty for not doing something more productive.
2. Friends And Family Come To You
When you’re stuck in a hospital bed, what are you gonna do? Everyone just has to work around you and your visiting hours for a little while. This is great for someone like me who usually struggles to find the time to catch up with friends and family. Just make sure you’re fairly comfortable with those who are visiting, because you may end up needing their help to re-adjust your catheter…and not the one in your arm.
3. Room Service
They might not be the happiest folk, but the staff who brought me my meals were sorely missed when I left hospital. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to the sound of the food trolley rumbling down the hallway. Even if I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat, I made sure my little table could fit that food tray, otherwise I risked the cafeteria staff staring at me like I’d just kicked them in the shins. But as much as I joke about it, right now I’d rather cop one of those stares than have to leave my bed to find food.
4. The Nurse Buzzer
Oh man, the nurse buzzer. When I was first admitted to hospital, I never touched this button. Even if the pain was unbearable, I’d wait until someone came in to take my obs before mentioning anything. I didn’t want to bother or inconvenience anyone. By the time of my last discharge, I was pressing that buzzer constantly – for pain meds, when I wanted extra blankets (it was basically the Arctic in that room), and I think I even pressed it to ask a nurse to put my socks on…I wasn’t allowed to sit up at the time but it still felt ridiculous. Anyway, the nurses were ALWAYS happy to help, no matter how trivial or extreme the request was. Unless you’re four, chances are you don’t get that kind of service at home!
5. Hospital Bed Rides
Ok, so this one was probably just a highlight for me, but every time I was wheeled down to another department for a test I imagined I was on some exclusive, patient-only ride. The wardies pushing the beds must be on fairly tight schedules too, because they fly down some of those corridors. So if you’re really feeling bored, and you’re longing to feel the wind in your hair again, get yourself booked in for yet a routine x-ray and hold on tight for the hospital bed ride of your life!
6. No Forgetting Your Medication
It sounds terrible that after 11 years of taking daily medication I still forget. I’m told it’s not a massive issue and everyone does it from time to time, but certain meds do make you feel pretty average if you happen to miss a dose. Having the nurses prepare them for you and watch you take them, there’s no chance of this happening. Unless the nurse forgets about you…
7. New Friends
Sharing a room can have it’s ups and downs, but being in the same ward means you’ve got something in common. I usually found asking what they’re in for was the easiest way to kick things off with my temporary bestie, and most are happy to chat. I met some amazing people sharing a room, people who had the kind of drive and determination that inspires you to focus on what’s important. While the time I spent with these people was short, their strength and their stories still inform my decisions now. And you never know, you might be the one to help someone else, so it never hurts to say “Hi” to that person in the other bed.
Unless they snore, then get out. ASAP.
I can’t say enough about the nurses I’ve met. After major surgery, it’s a big climb back and the nurses are the best support you’ll ever get. If nothing else, they give you faith in humanity. When you see what these men and women do on a daily basis, it makes you view the entire profession in a different light. Showering people, dressing them, changing bags with all sorts of bodily fluids, removing abdominal drains, collecting specimens, responding to emergencies, dealing with people who are messed up on all sorts of drugs, and on top of all that having to do it on rotating shifts. I had nurses do each of these things for me, and I wouldn’t wish just one on anyone. Nurses are a special kind of person, and just having them around keeping an eye on you is a privilege.
9. A Chance To Catch Up
When do you ever get time to just sit back and find new music, or binge-watch an entire TV series? Before hospital, it wasn’t too often for me. I put together a whole bunch of playlists, and some nights would just drift off on an endless nostalgia trip, saving track after track of 90’s hits. It helped that at the time I had a roommate who I’d affectionately named Snorlax, because when he slept it sounded like a tugboat was about to slam into my face. Sleeping would have been impossible without headphones. But it really is a brilliant chance to catch up on your media of choice.
10. Medical Treatment
Obviously the ultimate bright side to hospital admission is fixing the reason you came in. Now that I’ve received the treatment I’ve waited 11 years for, I’m so glad I spent as much time as I did in hospital. The admissions are what led to my eventual transplant and without those visits I wouldn’t have met the amazing people I did.
There are plenty of reasons not to be stoked about a hospital admission, but it doesn’t have to be all about the needles and drugs. Stream some music, start a blog, take a nap, or if you’re really desperate, do some of those circulation exercises they’re always telling you to do. Just remember, one day you wont be there and you’ll wish you made the most those free rides.