Lessons from Hospital Encounters

After a couple of “sandwich generation” health care encounters  between a son’s hospital stay (all fine now) and dad’s continued visits to specialists, I offer these lessons:

1. If you have an X-ray, CAT scan or MRI – basically anything that produces an image – ask for a copy of the image.  It doesn’t matter that they offer to send the images to the specialist you are about to see, because the simple fact is that you can’t just rely on the harried front office staff to get this done.

Without images for the doctor, you are wasting a trip. At the least, call ahead to confirm that your images have arrived and are in the doctor’s hands. A complex like UAB or Kirklin clinic is world unto itself with literally thousands of pieces of mail being sorted and delivered each day.

There is nothing more frustrating than watching an orthopedist pressing around and bending joints the old fashioned way while you wait for communication between providers on an X-ray.  The radiology group is separate from the hospital which is separate from the lab…you get the picture. Literally. Get the picture.

2. Bring any regular prescribed medicines from home. Sure, the hospital pharmacy will gladly dispense your regular prescription medication, but most of the time it will cost much more than what you already paid your regular pharmacist. (They will need to record all your medication doses, so be sure the nurse is aware).

3. Have a small notebook to write down questions, and speak up. I think a false read on a temperature meant an additional day in the hospital for my son. In retrospect, I could simply have asked the tech to take another read just to verify the first one for my own peace of mind.

4. Bring your phone charger.

5. Wear comfy sport clothes and bring hair elastics and a ball cap. Yeah, I know it’s vain. But when my husband’s boss came to visit us, I was so thankful to have my trusty ball cap to cover bed head. I felt transformed into active, on-the-go mom instead of sofa-sleeping, awakened every two hours mom.

6. Bring a throw. The sheets and blankets you get for making the sofa-bed are fine, but there is nothing like your own trusty throw to combat an air conditioned chill or to cover the squeaky vinyl of your sofa.

May you never have to deal with a hospital admission or trail of specialists for a diagnosis. But if you do, at least know how to handle the situation.