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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the hospital over the holidays?

This is the time of year when lots of cold and flu is going around, and that means that sometimes kids can end up in the hospital.

So, what if that happens to you? 

Start by being prepared! When my kids were little, they were in the hospital 12 times for asthma. It seems like as soon as they got over one illness, their nose would start to run, and I would think "This can't be happening.....they are getting sick-again??!!" A simple cold for my kids would often turn into pneumonia, which would mean another hospitalization.

I asked my doctor what to do if the kids got worse after 5:00 when his office closed. He told me about the after-hours network. In our area, many of the pediatricians work together on a network and take turns working nights. So, if my kids were getting worse, and it couldn't wait until morning, I would just call my pediatrician's office. They would have a recording that would list which doctor was on call that night, the phone number and address of the office. It got to the point where I knew were ALL of the other pediatrician's offices were!

I would always stress out, but I could call and easily get an appointment for after hours. Often, they would give my kids an injection of steroids, a breathing treatment with the nebulizer, and start them on an antibiotic. Sometimes, that's all they would need for them to turn the corner. Other times, they would take one look at my kids and send us to the pediatrics ward of our hospital. They would call ahead with the orders to admit one of the kids, and the nurses would get the room ready.

So, you may find yourself in the hospital during one of the holidays. We have spent birthdays there, 4th of July and New Year's Eve. There's nothing you can do, so just accept that you are going to spend the holiday there. On the plus side, our pediatrics ward is stocked with blankets, toys, etc. And my kids would get spoiled from the kind people who had donated things to the hospital.  (Of course the kids have to be REALLY sick to be admitted in the first the least they can do is make it a little more fun for the kids by spoiling them with toys or blankets)

You may be unprepared, but the nurses are there to help. Not only your child, but you as well. The nurses have loaned me scrubs to sleep in (when I came straight from work in a suit and high heels!)  They also have toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, socks, etc for parents. When I didn't want to leave my kid's rooms, the nurse would give me juice, crackers, etc. to tide me over until Hubby could make it to the hospital to "switch shifts" . He would first head to the cafeteria, grab dinner and we would eat together on our child's hospital room. Then I would head home, and Hubby would spend the night. (It helps if you pack a foam bedroll too-the pull out beds are really thin!)  We would switch off often during the day, so one of us could go home and shower and check on the other kids. It also helps if you take turns sleeping in your child's hospital room. After a while, the constant beeping of the machines can really get to you. As can the constant interruptions of sleep to check vital signs, give breathing treatments, etc.

 Just remember, the nurses are there to help you. They are helping to save your child's life! We are always VERY kind to them and thank them for all of their help. After one of the kids would be discharged from the hospital, we would return later with a box of donuts and a thank you card with a picture of our kids. Maybe that's why the nurses always remembered us and would say, "You are back again??!!" Yes, we loved our nurses, but not enough to go back and see them time again!!

So, if you find yourself in the hospital with child, try to make the best of it. You will be scared, worried, tired, and cranky. Your mind will be worried about the other kids at home, work projects, and countless other things. But there's nothing you can do about it, except take one hour at a time. Hope they improve, and try sleeping in hospital scrubs, they're actually kind of comfy!

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