How to Make the Most of a Hospital Stay, Part 1

As lupus patients, our health can sometimes take a turn that requires immediate medical attention – which means a trip to the ER and most likely a hospital stay. Lupus is complicated and usually, a hospital stay is not overnight. After 16 days total in the hospital last year for various lupus complications, I had to learn how to make the best of my time while my medical team got to the bottom of what was wrong.

Here are my 4 tips to make the best of a hospital stay:

1. Have a hospital bag packed

It’s better to be ready. After the umpteenth visit, I got smart and had a bag already packed (and I’m on the kidney transplant list and waiting for “the call” so it doesn’t hurt to have it). Pack more than one outfit, multiple pairs of underwear, your toiletries, even your favorite scent or lotion to ground you. Also pack things that will keep your mind occupied, like your favorite book, Bible, coloring book, etc. You need all the comfort you can get.

2. Lean on your support system

As I grow wise with this disease, I know I can’t do it by myself. Earlier on I kept my frustration to myself, but eventually, I needed someone, some people to vent and share my frustration. No one should have to do this alone. Reach out to your support system, other lupus patients, family, and close friends that understand. You’ll never know who you can call at midnight until you actually make the call. I was pleasantly surprised when moms from my Facebook group stepped in and sent food. And remember, don’t be upset about the people you thought would show up who didn’t, rejoice in the ones who did and make sure you show them gratitude.

3. Do your best to be compassionate, but don’t compromise

Remember, we’re in the middle of the pandemic, and nurses and healthcare professionals are being stretched like never before. There are bound to be testy times or times when you feel your needs are not going to be met. Some things can slide. If you don’t get your cup of ice immediately, chill out.

But there’s a balance. Be nice, but not naïve. If you feel like your health needs are truly being compromised, like your meds not coming on time, speak up. You can be compassionate to your medical team’s situation and demand proper care.

4. Know your charge nurse

The charge nurse is the head nurse on the floor during your stay and they rotate daily. They usually stop by to ask how things are going and how you’re being treated. It’s accountability for your nurse team. Make sure you stay in the know of who that is just in case you have some major concerns with your care.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on How To Make the Best of Your Hospital Stay

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