Re: Your First Experience of Hospital
I'm a registered nurse and work on a medical surgical floor. I also have my fusion scheduled for October. So, I know (or will soon) both ends of this thread.
First, I have to back up myself and my fellow nurses. If you knew the bull$*&# we had to put up with, you'd know why we aren't able to answer call lights right away. Nowadays, most nurses have a cell phone with an extension. I always encourage my alert patients to call me rather than use their call light. The call lights are answered by a secretary who is doing a thousand different things in addition to answering call lights for the entire floor (30+ patients). Ask your nurse if there is a better way of reaching her directly. Have her write her number/extension on the board in your room.
Don't wait until your pain is unbearable. Ask for pain meds when your pain is a 5/10. It's easier to treat 5/10 than to wait until it's 10/10 when no amount of medication can relieve it.
Clump your needs together. If you call your nurse for pain medication, think of what else you need before you send her away to get your meds. It's really difficult to help someone when they ask for one thing, then you bring it, then they ask for another thing, and you bring it, and then they call for something else... It sounds harsh, but the reality is that while nurses do want to help, we are extremely busy. Think of it like a waiter in a restaurant... they can do their job better if you tell them you need napkins, more water, a side of sauce, etc all at once rather than asking one at a time.
Buy pizza for the nurses and attach a note on top saying "Thanks for all the care, love the patient in room XX". Promise you'll get better care. Sometimes just knowing our care is appreciated goes along way. We deal with a lot of rude and ungrateful people, so the nice ones are a breath of fresh air. Saying please and thank you go a long way... common curtousy is priceless. You'd be surprised how frequently people forget their manners.
Know who does what. Usually nurses work with an aide. Don't bother your nurse if you need to go to the bathroom (I feel mean saying it over and over, but nurses are so busy). See if your nurse's aide has a number they can be reached at directly as well (they should have work cell phones too). Your nurse will appreciate not being bogged down with doing things that someone else can do and will allow your nurse to get your pain medication (and other patient's pain medication) in a more timely manner.
Arrange for people to come visit you and encourage your family to help you. It's so nice when patient's have family that aren't afraid to help out. If your family is weary about helping you out of bed, be sure to have the physical therapist educate them on how to help the right way. Get your family involved. There's nothing worse than when a family repeatedly asks me to do things that they can really do themselves (again, this sounds harsh, but we are SO busy).
Not sure what showering is like post-op, but there are special waterless shampoo caps the nurse can order for you to wash your hair. Not many patients know about these. They aren't the greatest, but it's a nice alternative to nothing at all.
Most hospitals have you fill out a menu each morning for the next day. But, you can always call the operator and have her connect you to the "diet office" and request things that aren't on that menu. If there's something you like that's not on the menu, chances are they can bring it to you anyway. Can't promise it'll be what you imagined it to be, but do know there are more options than what's on the menu.
If you like your nurse and you've gotten great care, ask if there is a special form you can fill out on her behalf. It's the little things like this that go a long way. Again, you'll get more smiles and better care if your nurse knows her efforts are appreciated.
Hope these help.