13 Tips for Moms Who Want to Make Hospital Time Easier
Just over six years ago, our son Lucas was given a diagnosis of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). During that time, I have spent more hours in hospital wards and waiting rooms than I care to remember. Hospital appointments have pretty much become part of our life, and while Lucas did have three clear years of treatment, there were still annual checkups and x-rays.
I have some tips for all you hospital moms that I really hope someone out there will find useful:
1. Be nice to everyone — not just the top doctors, but also the porters who wheel your child down to theater, other parents, cleaners, the nurses and others. Being nice, smiling and taking an interest in others is easy, and it also means they might want to help you and go out of their way to make your stay easier.
2. This is not easy, but try not to show your child your fear. If you need to cry or vent, walk away, go and get some fresh air, but don’t let them see your pain. They need you to be strong for them. When Lucas was bought back from theater this time, we had an hour or so when he was in extreme pain, and I wanted to stop it so much because I couldn’t bear to see him in pain. I stood away with a nurse for a couple of minutes, got myself together and then went back to his side and made sure he knew it was going to be OK — and it was.
3. Try to get a bed for your child by the window. This isn’t always possible, but if you can, it lets in daylight, and since hospital wards tend to be hot and stuffy, a little fresh air is lovely.
4. Find out where the linen cupboard is. This way you can change sheets yourself, find towels and even make up your own bed if you are lucky enough to have one.
5. Know your route to the hospital, and time it if you need to. Find where you need to go, what time you need to be on a ward and also be sure about the parking, how much there is and if you need to pay. We are lucky at the RNOH that parking is free, but this isn’t the case for everyone, so it is worth looking into.
6. Try to get some sleep if you can. Sounds hard when you are woken up every couple of hours to give your child medicine or speak with consultants, but the more rested you can be, the easier it is to deal with events that occur during your stay.
7. Take bottles of water and snacks in with you. Yes, there are shops on site, but if you are in for a while, this can get expensive and the selection isn’t always that great.
8. Take in antibacterial spray and wipes as well as hand gel. You can’t be too careful.
9. File everything. When we started out on our DDH journey, I had odd bits of paper in Lucas’s red book, but it soon became apparent this wasn’t the right solution. These days where we go, the grey file goes, and it has every document in it ever issued.
10. Don’t throw your magazines and newspapers away — pass them onto other parents and given other children on the ward comics you have finished with. Little things go a long way when you are on the inside.
11. Understand this isn’t forever. I know we were in hospital for endless weeks and months, and for that I am so grateful, and of course I don’t know what lies ahead of Lucas. Take in books and magazines, a tablet, some work, games and puzzles.
12. Use the Monkey Wellbeing resources to talk about the time in hospital and explain to your child what might happen and how they might feel.
13. Make friends with other parents. Strike up conversations. Meditate. Do what you can to make this time easier for you, your child and the rest of your family. In time, I hope things will get easier.
Follow this journey on Just Because I Love.
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