Candid reflections on a hospital stay with a throat infection

by Mata Stevenson

A fungal infection landed me in the hospital for three weeks. To my surprise, I ended up with some positive things to say about my experience and some insider tips to pass along.

1.  If you must be hospitalized, and your insurance covers it, try to get into a hospital that offers good PT.

As I had heard from therapists, being an inpatient offers you an advantage to get the best treatment (partly due to the way insurance companies structure their benefits). I was given excellent physical, occupational, and speech therapies, some at my bed, others in scheduled classes and private sessions, thanks to being at Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the best. After I left the hospital, Medicare benefits paid for a home care service which sent physical, occupational, and speech therapists to my home for a few weeks (the span of time depends on the individual case). Insurance companies are stingier with outpatient sessions.

2.  Ask your doctor for a note that allows CHANGING DOSAGE OR TIMING of your meds, if needed.

Otherwise you may wait and wait at 3:00 AM for the nurse to contact the hospital doctor for permission.

3.  About bathing: be prepared.

If you’re in anything but a private room with a bathroom, bathing might mean being hosed down by an aide. Forget vanity and privacy!  Best to have your own washcloth and shampoo/conditioner.  I found the hose-down fun.

4.  Make a list in advance of personal items you’d like with you, especially clothing, making it easier for you, or someone else, to pack for you.

Without a list, you’re dependent on the taste and judgment of your caregiver, or whoever will bring you provisions. My husband went for dramatic effect, choosing an all-black wardrobe; plus, after I warned him that the magenta raw silk slacks were not what I was describing, a pair of dusty-rose casual pants.

5. Don’t bring in a roomy flannel gown or PJs to substitute for the open-in-the back hospital gown.  

Better to bring something close-fitting and smooth, which will glide over hospital sheets, thus avoiding being wrapped like a mummy after a few turns.

6. Get with the program.

I presume that almost everyone goes through the “let-me-out-of-here, let-me-go-home” stage.  That was me the first two days. But then, not being able to talk intelligibly, and fearing that I was being pushed into using a feeding tube, I recognized that the nurses were doing their best.  I accepted the tube as necessary and, ultimately, almost enjoyed being in the hospital.

7.  If you want to get a message across, first make sure the staff person is paying attention.

During my 3-weeks stay, there was a lot of “turning a deaf ear” towards me and other patients. Many staff persons, including doctors, nodded during conversation, but I could tell they weren’t listening. Maybe they have to endure so many rants about the hospital and the food or the incompetence of persons who draw blood.  Maybe they can’t afford to have their time wasted, so they do not engage.  To make your point, repeat your statement more emphatically or write it down. If you buzz a nurse or aide, she or he will listen.

8. One more helpful hint.

Through National Parkinson Foundation, you can order a free of charge kit with information aimed to improve your hospital stay at www.awareincare.org or call 800-473-4636.

Postscript

I’m back at BPG classes, taking tango classes, helping to edit this newsletter, better than before as a result of my hospital stay.