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Monday, July 19, 2010

Hospital Ward – Step 3 of 4 to going home - Part of Picking Up the Pieces Mondays

The only good thing about this step in going home was that I placed close to the bathroom. I know in most cases this is not the prime real estate one desires – but in hospital when you can barely move it becomes an asset. Maybe there were two good things the other two ladies in the room were very pleasant.

I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore, when I was told that the catheter would be removed and I would be learning to transfer from bed to wheel chair to bathroom. After the “removal” a bed pan was slid under me and I was told it would remain there until I went. If I didn’t go the alternative did not sound very pleasant. Luckily for me I was able to will all functions quite quickly – unlike my unfortunate roommate who would be left on the bed pan for up to 1 hour at a time. My heart went out to her – I had my sister (bless her…) –who saved me from that.

The first time I stood up my legs felt like complete jello –jiggley and wobbly - like a colt trying to stand up for the first time after birth- , definitely not able to hold me up and the dizziness. So back into bed the nurse put me. After a few more attempts over the next day, I was able to stay vertical long enough to pivot and sit myself in the wheelchair. Being able to go into the wheelchair, meant that I could be wheeled around the hospital –my sister found this cool and took me down to the cafeteria. I was overwhelmed by the noise and people, but we did stop at the gift shop and stocked up on magazines!

Now that I was able to slowly eat more than broth, my sister would bring me coffee and little treats for breakfast. Hospital “food” that’s what they were calling it anyways even with my taste buds not working, did not resemble anything I was use to consuming. Friends and family quickly came to my rescue and started bringing me food from Pusateri’s (it’s like a Dean & Deluca). In no time I was being treated to real food. Not being able to feed myself, I was extremely grateful that my sister was there to feed me or made sure someone was there, when she could not be. I was the hit of the room – as there was more than enough to share with the other ladies.

Here you were definitely just a bed number to the nurses. I recall the lady across from me who fell getting out of her wheel, transferring to bed. When the nurse came in the room – it was like she was being disturbed. My sister was getting me settled for the night so the curtain was pulled around my bed. I don’t know if the nurse was aware my sister was there because she said this “Oh your too large for me, I’ll have to get someone else to help” – Ok the woman is question may have been a bit on the healthy side – but perhaps – Are you ok? – would have been a better 1st statement. When she came back with another nurse the next thing we heard was “If you don’t help us get you up – you stay there all night!” I gave my sister the look – SEE- they are mean!!!

Once I asked to be turned during the night – I was scheduled to be turned every 2 hours (to the left and then to the right propped with pillows to hold my position and then onto my back) – this particular shift, I woke up and was so stiff, I checked the time on the T.V. it had been almost 4 hours since I was last turned (meaning I was going on 2 missed turns). When I called for the nurse, and asked to be turned she told me “we don’t turn you if you are sleeping”. Interesting I’ve been turned every shift for the last week every 2 hours (day, afternoon, night), I thought to myself – I was too scared to say anything. When I asked if she would please flip my pillow for me, her response was “you have one good arm, you can do it yourself” …as I held back tears, I tried to explain how weak I still was- that I couldn’t sit up or hold my head up on my own from a laying position thus need my arm (weak) to hold me up, leaving no extra arm to flip the pillow. I will never forget her name “Nurse Chad”!! Welcome to hospital night shift.

What I want to share with others;

If you can’t be there during meal time, make sure there is someone there – especially if your loved one can’t feed themselves. Pop in at different times – this way your pattern is not learned. When your loved one says something’s not right have it checked out. I recall how uncomfortable my neck collar felt – I told my sister I didn’t think it was on right, she probably thought I just wanted it off – it wasn’t my favourite accessory! When a doctor came in I had him check it and sure enough it had been put on wrong.

If you or your loved-one, want to have someone stay with throughout the night – don’t ask the nurses, they tell you about visiting hours. Speak with a hospital supervisor or doctor. Provided you are not chatting during lights out or keep the light on disturbing other patients in the room – your request should be authorized.

Send your loved one flowers or something they enjoy, once they are in a Ward unit! Especially if they have come from CCU or ICU, where nothing is permitted due to germs. I was extremely cheered up when I started to receive flowers or cards- more than visits. In a ward anyone can show up to visit your loved one - my sister was great at setting up a visiting schedule - but people still showed up unannounced - which either tired me, cut into a scheduled visit that was cheering me up or completely frustrated me because - I couldn't express I didn't want a particular person to visit. Remember when you can't get out of bed you are at the mercy of others.

Next Monday is the final step before I went home…


  1. My mother spent 4 months in hospital follwoing a stroke. She was basically written off and put to bed. We gave her own own "therapy" taught her to eat, to use a wheelchair. She had some apalling nurses and some good ones.

    She was not allowed to eat having failed the swallowing assesment. Due to a mix up of names, and the fact one os us couldn't be there during waking hours, she was given a dinner tray (this despite the NPO order above her bed and a feeding tube in place. She proceeded to eat metloaf and pineapple chunks. I saw a mess on her nighgown and was suspicious it was food. She confrimed that she "must have passed" her swallowing assement because someone gave her dinner. She had not.

    It is a very frightening place. It is a good thing you had your sister a fair bit.

  2. This makes me so angry to read I went through it with my father, who is not someone to complain and then again with my mother, resulting both times with me going in and nursing them. My mother I had to bring home as she was just wasting away in there.
    I have experienced it once when I was in with suspected stroke and the night staff were atrocious and uncaring .. Why do they do this job if they dont like helping people xxx

  3. I love all the precautions and helpful tips you are giving your readers. It saddens me that you had to learn it all the hard way. From the sounds of it, you have one heck of a sister! When my mother was in the hospital earlier this year, we did not leave her alone for more than 5 - 10 minutes at a time. On the rare occasions my father did not spend the night, I did. We did set up a visitor schedule and, for the most part, it worked out pretty good. We also had some good nurses but had a few that I actually reported and made sure they did not get scheduled with my mother again. I had no problem speaking up! Of course, I probably would not have gone to that extreme if she was not protected by dad or me 24/7.

    In one of your prior posts, you mentioned personal care and how much it meant to you. That is also something I learned while my mother was in the hospital. It meant so much to her when I washed and styled her hair, gave her massages and rubbed her with lotion. She was unable to do any of that for herself and it made me feel good to be able to do it for her.

    Like Wildernesschic, I just do not understand why people get into nursing if they do not like it. If they are burned out, they need to move on to something different. There are other options in the medical field that do not require working directly with patients.

    Warmest regards,

  4. So true, you have to be your own advocate when it comes to medicine. Stay strong and great advice.oxox

  5. That is such a cute deer!

  6. I just can't get over how mean some of these nurses are! It blows my mind that they are in a field that is suppose to help people, yet they are hurting them!

    I really do love your weekly posts on your road to recovery. Do you have a post on your actual accident? I would love to read it.

  7. it was very difficult for me not to get
    angry at those nurses. how could they
    have treated you like that? or that poor
    woman in the bed beside you?

    your sister is an angel, for whom i can tell
    you are very grateful.

    hopefully, your horrific experience will
    teach us to never leave our loved ones
    unattended in the hospital!!!

  8. Your story breaks my heart. My SIL is an RN and is the designated hospital bulldog if anyone in the family ever needs a medical advocate. I am convinced everyone needs someone to watch over them and their needs while laying on their back. Unfortunately, this should be done by the hospital staff but often times and they are either over worked and taxed themselves trying to do their best or you get a nurse like you had. That would be a fear for anyone dependent on others. I can't wait for you to continue your story and so glad you are home and recovering. Much love. :)

  9. I got so angry reading you hospital situation. It is not just there, but everywhere. People have lost the compassion and caring for others. I regret you had to go through such a terrible time. Trust good things will start to happen for you.

  10. Great tips! After working in a hospital for 18 years I would always recommend that a member of the family be there for the patient and also their advocate. It is a scary world there and I think that what you are saying from a patient's stand point every nurse and doctor should read this.
    I am glad you are out of there and on the road to recovery.
    Enjoy your day!

  11. This is so hard! So sorry you went through that!!
    This nurse was so horrible! WOW i think she has the wrong job!
    She should be in the army!

  12. Oh my, what a precious blessing it sounds like your sister was to you during that difficult time in your life. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that. How terrible to be at the mercy of mean people. : ( It brings tears to my eyes. Well, I am SO glad its all over and that it is behind you, dear friend.

    God clearly isn't finished with you because you're here, girl! Amen!

    Lots of love,

  13. This is so important that people know they need to be their own medical advocate. As I wrote in a comment on one of your previous posts about this subject...mama always said you better have a loved one at the hospital with you all the time!!

  14. My brave angel, I must confess that I feel very disturbed with these posts and that I admire you so much for talking to others about the needs when one is at the hospital.
    Despite my accident wasn't so big and yours made so much physical damages I feel very related to some situations.
    OMG the day they took me out the catheter and I couldn't hold the urine and I was all wet with staff scolding me.... it was so humiliating and at that time they couldn't tell me yet that I could walk again... I think you can guess my thoughts...
    And I was alone with just my parents in a nursering home. They couldn't go see me or do anything for me.
    I had to pay a lady to take care of me.
    It was tough!!!!
    But I guess these are things we have to go trough for some reason and if we're alive it's because we still have things to do.
    And you have for sure!!!!!
    Tons of love my dear dear friend!!!
    May the Universe be with you all the time with the Light.
    Big hug


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