Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 10, 2014

Other stuff I learned in the hospital with my kids

(Shutterstock images)

There are things we learned along the way of when our kids hospitalized 14 times for asthma (mostly thanks to pneumonia, sometimes it was the smoke from forest fires)

I'll share a few of the things we learned. Keep in mind that every hospital and every nurse are different. So, these may not be helpful to you OR you may find other things that help your kids.

1. A Bubble Humidifer. The picture above is an  "oxygen bubble humidifier." In hospitals, instead of using an oxygen tank, the oxygen comes out of the wall (there is some sort of system behind the wall......I don't know the science of how it works.) But the important thing to remember if your child is on oxygen is to have a bubble! The bubble is filled with water and adds a little moisture to the oxygen so your child's nose doesn't dry out and bleed. We had that happen - A LOT! It's not fun :(

2. Bring things from home. If there are things that help your kids feel better, bring them to the hospital. Our kids always had a favorite blanket and stuffed animal. BUT - we had to make sure we told the nurse on each shift that it was from home. Otherwise, blankie may end up in the laundry facility with the rest of the hospital sheets and you might not be able to find it again. We also brought a small CD player and would play our kid's favorite CD's that they listened to at night to get them to go to sleep.

3. Bring things for yourself. Since I didn't ever leave my child's bedside, I brought a bag with slippers, toothpaste and toothbrush, gum, snacks, a water bottle and magazines or a book to read. (Our nurses would also give us a toothbrush, toothpaste and comb if we forget to pack them.)

4. Bring favorite DVD's. Once again - make sure they are marked with your name on them. In our Pediatrics ward, we can check out DVD's for the kids to watch. But, my kids always had their favorites. In fact, Little Mermaid helped my daughter through more than one hospitalization! When we went to Disneyland, we stood in line to get a picture with Ariel. I told Ariel that my daughter watched our Little Mermaid DVD over and over again when she was in the hospital for asthma. Ariel said, "You are just like me! You must be half mermaid! I can't breathe very well when I'm on dry land either!"  I love you Ariel!! My daughter thought it was SO COOL that Ariel had a hard time breathing sometimes too!! I don't think Ariel had ANY idea how much that meant to us!

5. Ask for help I usually had one kid in the hospital and two more at home. So hubby and I would play "tag team." We would switch off who stayed at the hospital and who stayed at home with the other kids. When people ask how they can help - tell them!! Is there anyway you can pick up Son #1 from school today? Another neighbor would take my sons to scouts. Another would drive preschool carpool. Another brought warm chocolate chip cookies to the hospital. Mmmmm

Remember, just because your child is admitted to the hospital doesn't mean it is smooth sailing. We would have one step forward and two steps back. One of the kids would be doing well, then suddenly take a turn for the worse and the doctor would order the nurse to increase their oxygen, start a new antibiotic, change when they got their breathing treatments, etc. There were always good and bad days. Just know that it does get better!! 


  1. A couple of things to add:

    1. Rotate. Don't both be there at once, it's impossible even when you don't have other children. Unless your child is critical then it's best to do shifts eg mum from 8am to 8pm, then Dad overnight.

    2. Take a sleeping mask. There is always light at the hospital and these help me all the time. (Anecdote: last time I was in the hospital was a few weeks ago for a severe cluster migraine. I couldn't look at any light or it just got worse so I had to take my eye mask. I spent two days with only sounds to go on. I still don't know what my doctors and nurses looked like..)

    3. In the UK at least we have porter- or carer-operated wheelchairs. They look a bit old but you find them in lots of hospitals in lots of countries. One tip for these wheelchairs; they don't go forwards. You can tell someone is a hospital newbie when they are trying to push a poor relative and just end up jamming them into the wall, doorframe or nearest disgruntled doctor. They go backwards and their turning mechanisms are built with that in mind so if you're trying to turn left while pushing it, it will go right.

    4. Take a tablet computer, laptop, iPad, smartphone or notepad and pen. You can play pen-and-paper games (or games on apps), write down information you are given, keep a journal of your stay, write down any questions you have for the doctor as you think of them (you'll be surprised how easy it is to forget something important by the time he or she comes to see you) and sometimes typing or writing what you want to say is easier than exerting yourself by speaking.

    5. Take work with you by all means but don't set your expectations too high. If you have five pages of questions to do, you might think you'll get them done but that is very unlikely to happen. You might not even get one page done. You might feel like you have to keep on top of college or school work so you don't fall behind but if you set your expectations too high then you are just going to exhaust yourself and prolong your hospital stay.

    6. Take charging bars/portable chargers/battery-powered chargers. You might not be able to plug in your phone charger in some wards and waiting rooms often don't have spare sockets.

    7. Take small change from about 10p (10 cents? Not well-versed in my American currency, sorry) to £1 or £2 coins. Vending machines at hospitals are a great way to get a late-night snack quickly and easily but they tend to only take cash. At the main hospital about 30 mins from my town there are a few vending machines on each floor so it's not far to go to get to one but if you have no cash then you'll have to go to the restaurant which may or may not be open.

    Sorry that was a long comment. Just some tips my parents and I have picked up from countless hospital stays and trips to the ER!

    One last thing; when my elder sister went into hospital for a day stay for laser surgery on her arm (she had full thickness burns as a toddler after knocking over a cup of tea without milk and had to have a skin graft) a couple of years ago, I made her a little card with a small envelope glued to the inside, and in the envelope I put a variety of little things I had made from cardboard such as a blank gallery-style frame and a where's wally-style thing, as well as some rubber bands and other little things and made a list of activities she could do from her bed. I also wrote a really good post on keeping occupied in hospital but I can't find it...

    1. Fabulous ideas! Thank you!

      It's sad, but we do learn a lot along the way. By our 14th hospitalization with the kids (12 for asthma) we had figured out a few things to make our life better.

      I'm glad you added to that list! :)

  2. One more thing I forgot is medical tape. If you don't have any or you can't get any then ask the nurse for a roll. There are literally hundreds of uses so it can be occupying to try to find as many uses as possible, but they also make going to the toilet with Portox or drips so much easier. I've been known to tape the IV line up my arm and tape the drip bag to the wall just so that it doesn't get in my way. Last time I was at the hospital on O2 I needed the toilet so they hooked me up to a portable tank and I taped the tubing down the arm I wouldn't use and it worked a treat. Also good if you get one of those dangly two-way little piece of transpore tape and it stays in place!

    1. I like that idea! I hate trying to drag the oxygen tubing around, it's such a pain. Especially in the bathroom - you don't want any added germs!

    2. O2 tubing is a pain! They always seem to give me too much, as well…

      IV poles also make good places to hang hats, as well as a great bonus target for a round of hoopla...

    3. I guess you have to make the best of being in the hospital! :)