Friday, December 24, 2010

The Hospital Experience from a Spine Surgery Patients Prospective

Having undergone three spine surgeries, I have experienced different hospital experiences with each. 

My recent hospitalization was a positive one.  The personnel from the admitting office to the transport person who took me outside to my car in a wheelchair' upon discharge; each and every person was professional, courtesy and caring.  My nurses were wonderful, the aides very caring.

My advice:  try to remember your nurses name.  Some hospitals write it on a dry erase board hanging in your room.  It will have the name of the nurse manager, nurse, physician, and aide.  Sometimes I felt as if I was pestering them.  But if you need help,  YOU NEED HELP!  Your family just can't manage 24/7.  

After my catheter was removed, I needed to use the bathroom every two hours.  There was always someone there to help me. 

If something is not to your liking, you need to speak up or have a patient advocate.  You have rights and must not be afraid to express them.  If you truly hate your room, because it is dark or the walk to the bathroom is too far, ask to have your room changed, its that easy.   If your food is intolerable, have a family member bring something in for you.  I would ask for extra juice and Jello since my appetite was poor but I needed to stay hydrated.

Don't bother packing fancy pajamas or robes or even slippers.  It is must easier to be in a hospital gown.
You may still have IV lines or drain lines in for several days.  If any fluid leaks, let it let it mess up the hospital gown.  Easier for your family not to deal with laundry.  The hospital always has gowns and robes, and sock-like slippers with little rubber pieces on the bottom to prevent slippage. 

In the first several days, it is important to hydrate.  Use moisturizer on your face.  Ask your family or nurse to lotion your body.  OH AND BY THE WAY:  have a family member look over your body for excess leftover tapes, chest leads, etc.  I once went home with an EKG suction lead on my back, it was there for 10 days.

A word on hospital room-mates:  you may be in a semi-private room with another patient.  That patient may be quiet and non-inquisitive.  On the other hand, you could get stuck with a loud, intrusive, annoying roommate.  I had a roommate who yelled on the telephone until 11 o'clock for two nights in a row in a rather loud Italian voice.  I rang for the nurse, and they took care of the problem.  The next day she was discharged.  If she had not been, I would have requested a room change.  DO NOT be afraid to request what you deserve,  REST!

Other hospital experiences were less than pleasant.  The nurses were inattentive, rude, and ABSENT!
I could ring for 15 minutes and no once would come in the middle of the night.  My second spinal surgery I was left in bed for 3 days with no one coming to assist me out of bed and arrange to have physical therapy to get me up and walking.  They came into my room on day 3 and told me I was going home the next day!  I  had not been up, still had IV and catheter lines.  I was crying, confused and didn't know what to do.  I was timid, I did not have a family member with me, so I accepted hospital discharge.  I was transferred by ambulance to a sub-acute rehab on a stretcher.  

My very first spinal surgery hospitalization I was placed in a private room in the corner of the unit.  I was left by myself.  No one came in for hours and hours.  I got up by myself every 2-3 hours to use the bathroom.
I was discharged within 24 hours of surgery. 

A word about hospital stays:  remember that everything is not determined by your doctor.  We are at a time where insurance companies make the rules.  After all, they know best.  They know how you feel, they know your ability to walk on day 3, they know how you feel being on Morphine for days and cannot think straight, they know whats best for you.

I have worked in the health care industry for over 35 years.  My opinion of our insurance system is a negative one and I could go on for hours about the inconsistency, the payment determinations, the hospital stay allowances, etc.  But I won't, at least not today.

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