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My Tips for Hospital Stays, Part 1

Aug 31

Posted by: ACHA
8/31/2012 1:11 PM  RssIcon

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

For those who do not know, I had cardiac surgery at the very end of July. It was fairly major in that it involved two valves and removing part of the right atrium, as well as some things to help eliminate some of my rhythm issues. Needless to say, I spent 10 days of recovery in the hospital and was discharged ahead of schedule. Twenty-four hours later I was in my local hospital with my regular cardiologist, conferencing with the original surgeon.

My body responded in an autoimmune defense and started pouring fluid in around my left lung, making it difficult to breathe. We are looking at getting this cleared up within the next week, with the possibility of another surgery. However, with the exception of the one evening I was at home, that will total four weeks of hospital stay. This is not my first month-long stay at the hospital and I thought, what a perfect time to hand down some tricks that helped my stay go more smoothly, in the hopes that they may help you if you ever need them.

The first thing that always helps me is my attitude. I am blessed to have a great attitude about the whole business. I'm a firm believer that you can work to improve your attitude and should through all aspects of your life. You should force yourself to find the bright side of a situation.

This is a lot of work at first, constantly reminding yourself that the gloom and doom answer isn't the one you should be focusing on. If you work at it and keep on top of it you will find that finding the good in things and keeping your attitude positive will become second nature. I use my attitude to win over the aides and nurses when I first meet them. These three tips will always endear your nurse to you and make him or her want to do the best he or she can (often over and above):

  1. Smile when you meet them and keep smiling; nurses would rather help out someone who treats them pleasantly and smiles than the guy who yells and throws bed pans.
  2. Ask them about themselves. Ask them how they are doing today. Do they have an overload of patients or any hard patients, or is today an easy day for them? As you see more of them during your stay, ask them basic questions like if they have brothers or sisters. You’re never going to be their bosom buddy, but if you can become a casual friend to them while they are at work, they will be willing to help your stay be so much better.
  3. Be proactive with your own care. If you have a drink on your table and you’re in bed—and if you are able to do so safely—sit up and get that drink yourself. Get yourself out of bed in the morning and set your table up for breakfast. Do what you can do for yourself and don't use the nurses as personal servants. I know this last one seems silly, but I have seen this time and again at hospitals. I also understand that there are points during recovery where sitting up in bed to get a drink may not be an option for the patient. I'm just saying if you can do it yourself, you should. The nurses will like that you’re not calling them for every little thing and honestly, it will help you get back on your feet sooner.

The second thing that helps me at the hospital is to find things to do. More on this in the second part of my blog post coming soon!

Jon Ritchings, Jr., is a 40-year-old father who was born with pulmonary atresia and hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Although he has made a career in retail, he prefers to be outdoors kayaking and taking photos. Jon likes to draw inspiration from quotes and one of his current favorites is from Lao Tzu: “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

Copyright ©2012 ACHA

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2 comment(s) so far...


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Re: My Tips for Hospital Stays, Part 1

Hi Jon,
I especially appreciate your last comment. Taking care of yourself as much as you can helps with the healing process too (both physically and mentally).

Be well, my friend.

Michelle Marie Perron
49 y/o - born with Tricuspid Atresia

By Michelle Marie Perron on   8/31/2012 1:38 PM
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Re: My Tips for Hospital Stays, Part 1

Wonderful words of wisdom!

Ashlea McLeod
43- TOF

By Ashlea McLeod on   9/4/2012 8:02 AM

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