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Surviving a long hospitalization

  • Long Hospitalization One of your family members has been diagnosed with cancer or needs to be hospitalized for a long period due to an orthopedic procedure. It isn’t going to be easy to adjust yourself into staying at the hospital for a lengthy period, especially if it’s your child and you cannot leave him/her alone at hospital.
  • When being hospitalized, the patient is in an emotional and physical pain because his /her life has come to a hold. When in hospital, one has no idea what time it is due to the strong fluorescent lights left on for the whole day. Moreover, the hospital coordinates all medical check-ups; blood tests, CT scans and other procedures according to the hospital’s available time, not the patient’s comfort.
  • As a family member who is expected to cope through a long hospitalization stay of your loved one, the first step is to give the patient an emotional feedback, let them know that they aren’t alone and make them feel that although not in their usual surrounding, they’ll feel comfortable even at the environment of the hospital.
  • Bring your loved one their personal pillow and blanket, it always feels good to feel as if you’re in your own bed. If the hospital permits, you can also bring some clothes from home, or their pajamas so they will not have to wear the depressing hospital gown.
  • A laptop and a portable CD player helps one get through the long hours in hospital. Encourage your hospitalized family member to write e-mails and watch movies which will assist him /her between medical procedures.
  • If you can, always take the patient for a short walk, either in the hospital ward for a coffee or outside the hospital. Many medical institutions have a mall close by for the patients and their relatives to do some shopping and sit at a café. An hour away from the hospital room will always do the patient good. HMC – Herzliya Medical Center for example has a wonderful beach right opposite the hospital, which is great for an hour’s relaxation.
  • Encourage the patient to conduct a daily blog, it helps relieve the stress and allows one to express their emotions, to take out the aggressions, fears and other questions which arise when one’s life is at stake. People who know the patient will always like to know what’s going on, even if they don’t call up every day or come for a visit.
  • If you can, find a hobby for your loved one within the hospital walls, for example if they like drawing or sketching then buy them a pad with colors, anything to help them forget about their illness for a while. If they like to read, then buy them the latest bestselling novels.
  • Every hospital ward has a fridge. Bring favorite dishes from home or snacks that will nourish the patient. Bring good coffee and their favorite cup from home. Don’t forget to offer refreshments to the nurses and /or the administrative staff; they work very hard and appreciating their care is more than worth the trouble.
  • Bring your loved one their own toiletries, a good shampoo, deodorant, their personal bath towel, for women bring their makeup, it’s important to put makeup on even when hospitalized.
  • Talk to the nurses and find out when visiting hours are allowed. Arrange for your loved ones visiting hours if they wish to see people they’d like. Ask them who they would like to see and before arrival, make your loved one look presentable. Comb his/her hair and put some lipstick on.
  • Let the patient run his /her bills and other household chores which can be done from hospital. Let them call the maid who’s at home and even keep up with work if possible.
  • If your child needs to be hospitalized for a long period, you need to prepare the child in advance. The hospitalization of a child is very stressful for everyone, parent and child. Siblings of a hospitalized child also need support because usually they get neglected due to the anxiety the parents experience with the sick child.
  • It depends how old your child is for you to discuss hospitalization with them; a preschool child needs to be informed two three days in advance and explanation need to be simple avoiding complicated words.
  • If your child is hospitalized then you must be 24/7 with them. Take turns with your spouse, take shifts so that the child will never be alone. You must make time to rest at home and gain strength for the upcoming difficult months. Leave one of your belonging, a t-shirt or a cap with the child, it will help your child while you’re at home.
  • Make sure to answer all the child’s question regarding medical procedures, don’t lie to the child but you don’t have to explain in details how painful the treatment is going to be. Encourage the child to ask the medical staff questions and to feel comfortable with them.
  • Look at ease, don’t look tensed when you are near the child.
  • Bring your child’s favorite toy, book, Lego game or movie.
  • Contact the child’s teacher and bring homework to hospital, don’t let the child be behind on school studies.
  • Contact the child’s friends and make turns for them to visit.
  • Keep the routine you have at home as close as possible to the routine at hospital. If, for example bedtime at home was at 08:00 PM, then in hospitals the same rule applies.
  • Accept any help offered from friends and families, if you’ll be exhausted you’ll have difficulty functioning as a parent to a sick child.