Hospitals are typically not a joyful place to stay or visit. I truly cannot believe I make it through some of my longer stays with all the noise, the complicated nature of my case, and the little sleep you tend to get as a migraineur in the hospital. Heck, anyone who is sensitive to noise and sound would certainly be uncomfortable in this awfully loud and bright setting. If you don’t get a private room, then hope your roommate is discharged and you get some time alone. My last hospital stay was decent because I ended up with a good roommate. Carlos was an excellent young fellow who manages a local convenience store.
I promised to share with you, ladies and gentlemen, 10 ways to stay occupied throughout your hospital stay. Here are my recommendations:
1. Bring your Chargers! Bring portable recharger(s) for your phone, tablet, and any other USB- based charging device. I personally bought two online from a company named Jackery one is small as my ring finger and carries 1 full iPhone charge maybe a little more, the other has 2 USB ports for simultaneous charging and carries enough charge for 3 whole phone charging cycles. For a device that will fit in one’s pocket that’s pretty darn good if you ask me and the batteries themselves charge quite quickly through a wall charger!
2. Music! Bring music, whether an older CD player or a tablet or phone with MP3 storage. Music is proven to help people who are sick. I recommend reading about Oliver Sacks as he has delved deep into this subject. Personally I use the Bose 20i earphones as they have a mic and volume controls for my iPhone’s Pandora One program which I often use to listen to music. These particular earphones use a microphone to pick up outside noise and when turned on will block out as much noise as possible so much so that if the hospital or IV alarms aren’t going off right next to you everything is silent and peaceful, worth the hefty $300 price tag to me for that kind of relief.
3. Pay the small fee for hospital TV and phone. You’ll feel better when family and friends can call you during your stay. TV and phone are great distractions. Right now the World Cup is on and a lot of people are watching soccer – or as the rest of the world calls it appropriately in fact- football! This will take your mind off of some of your pain and relieve you of that cabin fever feeling for at least a few moments!
4. Keep a pair of sunglasses or FL-41 tinted light sensitivity specific frames around at all times! You never know when an IV med might trigger a migraine, or if an attack might just come on. Who knows, since it can easily happen with all the light and noise in the entire hospital. So personally, since I’m extremely sensitive to light almost all the time I wear FL-41 tinted lenses at ALL times. In fact, even when I sleep in the hospital I wear them because you often wake up to the bright lights being turned on for a new IV to be put in, blood draws daily, or to simply take my vitals at 5 or 6am. Either way, the sudden change from completely dark to daylight bright bothers me immensely so this tip is crucial to my own comfort in any hospital environment. I highly recommend the outdoor tint on a large pair of OverRX or Bora frames as they are perfect for anyone even remotely as sensitive as I am. A pair from the NeuroOpthamologists over at Axon Optics will change your life! Why large you ask? Well because it fits over more frames so you’ll always have more of a selection, and I say the outdoor tint because that’s what I use indoors as well on my worst migraine days, so I highly recommend it to everyone. Remember: your phone or laptop or tablet screen brightness can always be raised, but lowering it probably won’t help your eyes if you’re having a severe attack and are severely photophobic.
5. Don’t forget your home pillows and ice packs! There’s typically a patient fridge, so be sure to label them and put them in a ziplock that’s also doubly labeled with your name. Trust me, your home ice and gel packs are probably much better than anything they’ll offer at the local hospital. I recommend the pillows and perhaps even a blanket for comfort as well. DO NOT forget to wash it all as soon as you are discharged, put it in the hamper or your laundry along with all hospital worn clothes that very same day and wash it all as soon as you can. Don’t forget how many people go in and out these doors every day.
6. Yes, I know many hospitals now have hand sanitizer dispensers in the patients rooms. However, just to be safe, bring your own hand sanitizer and some body lotion with you. This will keep your skin from drying out whilst sitting on that same hospital bed for days, weeks, sometimes even months. I also recommend you bring baby wipes to keep clean in case you’re too weak to shower on occasion.
7. Stay hydrated! Even if you’re hooked up to an IV, that means nothing for a migraineur. Drink, drink, drink that water up as much as you can until you’re urinating regularly! It’s healthy for you and will keep you stretching your legs, so this is crucial especially to those like me with neuropathy who need the physical therapy and movement. This will help to prevent fluid build up and swelling as well, remember even if it hurts you MUST keep moving!
8. Bring your chronic pain or migraine journal! Dont forget to record all the information you get at the hospital, take advantage of a nurse taking your vitals often and record them with the time taken. Also record your current pain level, and the symptoms you’re experiencing at the time. This will greatly assist your doctor in a diagnosis and the longer and more accurate your diary is the better it will be as an asset in your medical care.
9. Bring and keep 2 lists of medications: the first of which should be from home, the second one should be what you’re taking on that specific hospital visit. This will help you greatly in deciding what to do and it’ll show your doctor that you’re a vigilant, intelligent, and reliable patient who genuinely does want to be helped as you’re keeping as much information as possible. Keep a paper and digital copy of this I highly suggest saving the list to your phone if at all possible!
10. Don’t bring your wheelchair if you can help it! Again I repeat the hospital is a germ filled place so don’t even bring a rollator if you can help that too or a walker. They will have this equipment at the ready so if you can make it inside with a cane please do so and avoid dirtying up all your home medical accessories. This goes doubly for chemo patients and those with autoimmune disorders. Yes it may be more comfortable what you’ve got at home but why dirty up your equipment when you can use theirs temporarily?
Those are my 10 tips to help you avoid a bad experience at the hospital. I have more, but we’ll save that for another time. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with page and pages of must-do’s and don’ts just yet! Keep your devices clean by wiping them down with a sanitary towel every now and then it’s just alcohol based it won’t hurt. I hope this brightens up at least one persons hospital stay or at least prepares you. Later I may write about my hospital travel bag which is always kept packed and at the ready. Thank you for reading and I appreciate your time, and lastly good luck with your next hospital stay. I hope that it doesn’t last too long!