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GloomCookie 11th February 2009 12:00 PM

Your First Experience of Hospital
Ok, as discussed with Lynn in Lisa's thread, it occurred to me that a lot of people who come on this site (like me, when I first joined!) have never had any major surgery and go into the whole experience without knowing some of the things that can prove most helpful.
The "what to take to hospital" list is amazingly useful, but I thought if we could back it up with some of our knowledge it might help some people?

I'm thinking about things (both important and tiny little tricks) that I didn't know when I went in, like -

1) you can ask to see the pain specialist/team if you're really struggling with either pain or the effects of the meds they have you on, and you'll then be under the care of pain nurses as well which can really help.

2) if you are in the night before your surgery you can ask for a sleeping tablet to help you sleep if you're nervous, and

3) you can ask for a "premed" for before you go down to surgery if you're really scared and think you'll panic!

4) if the morphine etc is making you feel sick all the time you can ask for antinausea meds so you can keep some food down which will make you feel better.

5) if you're claustrophobic or just feel a bit ick with the oxygen mask over your face you have the clip that goes into your nose instead and doesn't dry out your face and mouth.

6) something which you all told Michael when I was in hospital that worked brilliantly - make a fuss :D if something's not right, don't just accept it!

Um, that's all I can think of for now, but I'm sure everyone has some ideas of things that helped them when they were in?

tonibunny 11th February 2009 12:08 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
Great idea for a thread Els :) I wish I could help, but going into hospital is completely normal for me! I do feel so sorry for people who have never been in before though, it must be very daunting.

GloomCookie 11th February 2009 12:14 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital

Originally Posted by tonibunny (Post 118519)
Great idea for a thread Els :) I wish I could help, but going into hospital is completely normal for me! I do feel so sorry for people who have never been in before though, it must be very daunting.

Cheers honey :) I didn't want anyone thinking I was creating a "how to be a total pain in the rear" but there was so much I didn't know when I went in I thought it would be nice if people were a bit more prepared, if it's their first time!

Actually, another suggestion, if you're on a ward with people who can get up and about before you - make friends with them so they can do things for you :D

GillyG 11th February 2009 06:39 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
This is a great idea GC :D I'll have to try and think back ...

BeckyH 11th February 2009 06:52 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
i don't know if i was lucky or i just got slightly different care (being in the marbled private patients area!) but all of those things were done for me!

i saw the pharmacist on the day i was admitted (along with a million other specialists) and whilst i was still lucid i demanded to be given anti nausea meds on tap. i duly was, through my cannula and was able to take as many pain meds as it took to keep me happy. i still didn't eat anything, mind. my mum had to whisk my food away because just the smell made me feel sick.

when i was in the HDU, very soon after my surgery, they noticed that the mask was annoying me and switched me to the tube which i was very grateful for. although you know when you don't need it anymore: when it feels like there's an uncomfortable breeze up your nose!

i got given a pre med (i didn't want one), i think because of my age. i didn't think it'd have any effect on me but i can honestly say that it did and the feeling it is most similar to is being slightly drunk (i couldn't stand on one leg to put my stockings on!)

lisalou 11th February 2009 08:14 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
id like to add that i would ask for pain releif and it could take up to 45 mins for them to get it,so me and hubs started writing down the times that the pain was worse (mine was 5pm and 11 in the moring) so we would ask for it 45 mins earlier so that i wasnt laying there in agony for up to 45 mins.
i would also like to ask does anyone know anthing about being moved,i was told i was only allowed to be rolled or made comfortable every 2 to four hours.
i had quite a good registrar and im afraid i told him everything!
i sound like one of those patients whos always shouting NURSE! and ringing the bell.really i wasnt half the time i couldnt reach it lol!

alison1407 12th February 2009 04:24 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
When i had my surgery aged 16 i had never been in hospital before for anything so it was all very daunting. I do remember getting everything done for me by the medical staff and never had to request anything special for the entire time i was in hospital. I dont think i had pre med though by the sounds of it, but i managed ok without it (partly because i probably didnt know it existed!)

I wish the internet was more widespread back then and that i could have come to you guys for support leading up to surgery and along the "journey".

Mustang Sal 12th February 2009 05:07 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital

Originally Posted by alison1407 (Post 118601)
When i had my surgery aged 16 i had never been in hospital before for anything so it was all very daunting. I do remember getting everything done for me by the medical staff and never had to request anything special for the entire time i was in hospital. I dont think i had pre med though by the sounds of it, but i managed ok without it (partly because i probably didnt know it existed!)

I wish the internet was more widespread back then and that i could have come to you guys for support leading up to surgery and along the "journey".

Oh I totally agree with your last statement - this site would have been amazing if it was around 10 years ago as I could have really done with the support. I had a few friends who would visit occasionally, but it was mostly just me and my mum, and at times (love her as I do) she drove me bonkers!

Getting back to the title of this thread, my one piece of advice is to ASK QUESTIONS, and don't ever feel like you can't, whether you're dealing with a doctor, a nurse, or any other healthcare professional - it is their job to keep you informed. They might be highly trained and know what they're talking about in clinical terms, but they are human beings, just like us patients are, so don't feel intimidated by them. If there's ever anything you're unsure of (medication, medical procedures, hygiene - anything) ask someone to explain things to you - there is nothing worse than feeling like you're being kept in the dark about something, as you're at your most vulnerable when in hospital (especially after the kind of surgery some of us have been through) I learned all this the hard way, so i'm speaking from experience!

Having to go into hospital shouldn't be an unpleasant experience. Yes, there will be pain and it's a weird environment to get your head round (although like a few people on here, I don't actually remember my first hospital stay as I was a baby :) ) but there's all sorts of things they can do to make things more comfortable.

Ooh one final thing - as nerve-racking as having an operation is, try not to think that it's bound to be a horrendous experience - more often than not things turn out to be better than you feared, so if you try to keep a positive mindset (or at least an open mind) you may very well find yourself saying 'well that was not as bad as I thought it was going to be'.

Dancerr.. 18th February 2009 06:33 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
My main advice would be, like everyone elses, to make sure you ask lots of questions. If you're not sure about anything, or want to know something then don't be afraid to ask. Even if you think it's a stupid question then ask it anyway, the nurses won't laugh (hopefully):p.
I was given a pre-operation test and i wasn't expecting all the tests i had to have done, tests such as;
Blood tests- obviously:D
Medical photography- which i hated:(
Lung Function
MRSA swobs

Not all hospital's may offer pre-operation tests, but be ware of some of the tests you may have to have done.
Also if you're in pain throughout the night, don't be afraid to ask for more pain killers, I usually needed mine at about 4am every morning. I used to not want to press the buzzer because i thought that i would come across as a pain and always wanting attention.
So for the first couple of days i put up with the pain which was a bad descision because when i woke up the next morning i would feel even more stiff:(. Finally my mum went to ask for some more, and i ended up getting told off by the nurses for not telling them i was in pain. So always make sure you tell someone if your in pain.:D;):):p:D

CrookedMegs 26th February 2009 11:35 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
This has been said on here before, but I just want to reiterate the importance of asking for help from the nurses/doctors in the hospital.

If you're in pain, let them know. Ask for painkillers, muscle relaxers anything they'll give you. If they're hesitant, beg if you need it. While most of my nurses were wonderful, I had one one night who would fight me on giving me meds, and I felt AWFUL. I begged for it and pushed the call button constantly until I got what I needed. None of the other nurses were that way.

If you need anything at all, ask for it. Most of the people there want you to be as comfortable as possible. I was amazed at how nice the staff was. I had one nurse who would pop in every day to see if I needed my hair braided or more ice or if I needed her to help me clean up or anything at all.

Also, when you get out of the hospital, let your doctor know if the pain meds and schedule they give you do not work for you. I was having a lot of muscle spasms that were unbearable. I never imagined it would be like it was. I lived with it for almost two days before I sent all the patient coordinators at my surgeon's office the same desperate e-mail pleading for help! My surgeon upped the number of times I could take the spasm meds and got onto me for not telling him sooner that I needed help. Other suggestions from him:

1. Using a heating pad with a timer or a hot water bottle (nothing that doesn't cool down over time since you can't really feel anything for a while and you don't want burn yourself) for 15 or 20 minutes when waking up.

2. Use an iced gel pack (an actual ice pack may poke you, which is bad if applying to a wound) wrapped in a towel (never directly against your skin) if you're having spasms. Put it on for 15 minutes on the spasmed area then take it off for 15 minutes and then back on again and so on until the spasms are gone.

3. It is ok to lay down! I was under the impression that I had to spend all day sitting upright or walking. Take time in each position. Lay down for an hour, sit for an hour, walk for an hour. Constantly switching around really helped me. In fact, timing things out helped me as it gave me something to focus on other than the pain.

If you have any questions, ask someone on here. My surgery was in January. I'm not well yet, still recovering, but it's better than it was! :D

GloomCookie 21st April 2009 09:37 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
I just wanted to say (because I've just had them and it STILL hurts), and I couldn't think of anywhere else to put it...

Drinking through a straw gets rid of hiccups. I learned this from the woman opposite me in hospital and after spinal surgery you really need a trick that works because man do they hurt when you've had people messing about with your ribs/back!

Abbi 25th April 2009 11:14 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
As a child, I was very accident prone, and often landed myself in A&E with accidents such as splitting my chin, and lip open, breaking my wrist, fingers, getting an earring lodged right in my ear, and various objects suck up my nose! On top of this, I had minor surgery on my ears when I was five. So I do have quite comprehensive experience of the hospital environment. However, going in for scoliosis surgery was quite different experience. I remember saying to my mum about how strange it felt lying in a hospital bed when I wasn't sick or ill in any way (as I went in the night before).

Random little things I picked up on where:
1) You need to get used to various professionals asking about your bowel movements (constantly!)
2) You have a right to ask to see your surgeon/consultant if you don't think anything is right
3) Get used to filling in a lot of forms (if you are over 18) I signed my name quite a lot the night before
4) If you feel you cannot sleep the night before, you can ask for something to help you sleep. It is better for your body to be well rested the night before, despite the fact that you will be sleeping a mere few hours later ;)
5) Make friends with the anaesthestist - he/she is the shizz ... (as is the pharmacist, and the pain team). Prior to the surgery you can request the type of pain medication you would like. I had an epidural for pain relief, which worked quite well for the first few days.

That is all I can think of for now ...

cherrybird 11th August 2009 09:33 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
I always like to use Bio Oil after the scars have healed to help as it seems to make them pale quicker and go flatter. It also helps even if the scars are older. You can put it straight on the scars or put a few drops in the bath. I can't hardly find the small ones from my leg shortening now.

greenhouse12 27th September 2009 06:11 PM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
Well i would recommend that before a nurse comes and turns you on your side to press your morphine pump because i was painfully stiff after my op and i just found it helped .:)
Oh and its crucial to have water or other drinks beside you at all times , because after i was really thirsty from day 1 till now !

Im suprised about the pre-med , i think i got the wrong dosage because it had no effect on me!

xorachhhhhxo 11th February 2010 02:35 AM

Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
Hi i'm 16 and just had kyphosis surgery 2 months ago. I actually am having my 3rd surgery tomorrow because my incision completely broke open.

1) Well I was in peds but whenever I was having trouble, a child life specialist came and helped me through it. There were times when I was panicking, but the specialist really helped me.

2)I don't know about this one because I was fine the night before. I assume you can be prescribed something.

3)When you get the IV, you are given "happy juice" right before you are rolled into surgery. They did this for every spine surgery I've had. It makes you feel really wacked out lol.

4) After the major spinal fusion, more than likely you won't eat for a good couple days. If you are feeling that sick that you can't keep food down, they might change the narcotic. I literally didn't eat for a good 5 days. You can't eat/drink until your stomach "wakes up".

5) I never had an oxygen mask, it was always that little tuby thing that went in your nose. I think I did when I first woke up, but I can't really remember. You are sooooo out of it for the first day.

6)You won't get what you want unless you speak up! I remember the nurses would sometimes be over 20 min late to give me my scheduled meds!!! Soo you just keep calling and calling lol.

Some things that really helped me were to bring something familiar from home, bring chap stick, some light facial pads to clean your face, and bring your laptop! (if you have one)

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