After 40+ years of never having to spend a night in the hospital, I’ve been there twice within the past month. Seems somehow I ended up with a case of cellulitis (a bacterial infection of the deep layers of skin) first in one leg, and then about 3 weeks later in the other leg. Both required a few days of IV antibiotics. So, I had 2 relaxing weekend getaways at the luxurious New York Hospital Queens, complete with deluxe accommodations and fabulous cuisine.
I learned a few things while I was there:
- IVs don’t actually hurt. Thanks to advances in technology, IVs don’t require an actual needle sticking in your arm. They use a very comfortable piece of flexible plastic of some sort. Aside from the few occasions where I bent my elbow a bit too far, I hardly knew it was there.
- Likewise for getting shots in one’s stomach. While I was there, they decided I needed daily shots of Heparin to avoid the possibility of developing blood clots. I thought for sure it was going to hurt like hell. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel a thing. So, if you ever find yourself in a similar position, rest assured that getting injections in your stomach doesn’t hurt at all, unless someone screws up.
- Hospital TV is BORING!!! If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few basic cable channels in addition to regular network TV. I couldn’t wait to get home to my 6,000 channels, premium channels, and “on-demand” cable services!
- There is no such thing as getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. Someone’s always coming in either to change your IV, check your blood pressure and temperature at each change of shift, or give you a shot of something. Forget sleeping past 6am! First the night shift will come in to check your stats before going off-duty at 7am. Then, the morning shift will come in to check those same stats about an hour later. This is followed by morning rounds, where several doctors will appear at the foot of your bed to examine you, discuss your case and your progress, and make small talk. If you’re lucky, about an hour after they leave, your breakfast will arrive.
- Hospital food isn’t as horrible as people make it sound, unless you’re on some sort of restricted diet. I wasn’t, and I actually ate pretty well while I was there. Except for the 2 occasions where someone messed up and lost my lunch menu, and I almost ended up without any food.
- When choosing your meals from the daily menus, be sure to circle a few extra items to stash away, in case you get hungry later on. You’d be amazed at how hungry you can get between meals. This is especially true between lunch and dinner, and between dinner and breakfast the following morning. If it hadn’t been for my stash, my growling stomach would’ve kept everyone on the floor awake at night!
- Be very nice to your nurses, nursing assistants and anyone else responsible for your care while you’re there. A little kindness goes a long way, especially if you find yourself having to go back to the hospital again. I was very fortunate to have some of the nicest and best nurses and nursing assistants taking care of me during both of my hospital stays. Some remembered me from my first visit, and took extra special care of me. I’m glad I was nice to them the first time around! Seriously, though, the nurses and nursing assistants work long, hard shifts and have to care for a lot of people in that time. I don’t think I could do it all as well as they do.