Hospitals. They aren’t much fun are they and most people aren’t big fans of hospitals. I mean spending any amount of time in a hospital bed can be scary, boring, depressing among other things. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in hospital because of my cancer diagnosis and picked up some tips on how to deal with all the horrible stuff that comes with hospital stays and long days waiting for appointments so I thought I’d share some tips. When I was going through treatment I was in and out of hospital for months and months and I had various hospital stays, my longest stay was around 3 weeks and that felt like the longest 3 weeks of my life. I feel like I’ve picked up a few tips so here they are..
Talk to your doctor
I know what you are thinking, why put talk when that’s obviously what you are going to do but not everyone does. A lot of people are embarrassed and won’t go into detail about how they are honestly feeling. I had days when I didn’t tell my doctor everything because I just didn’t feel like it was that important but honestly the doctors would rather you tell them EVERYTHING rather than nothing. They are no silly questions or answers, your doctor has heard them all. You might be embarrassed while asking the question but in the long run you will be so pleased you asked while you had the chance.
I know sometimes it can be very frustrating waiting to go in for an appointment you have waited ages for or waiting to go home after a hospital stay. This has got to be one of the hardest things to do but just be patient. We all know how much stress the NHS is under right now but the doctors and nurses are doing an amazing job with how many patients they are looking after and they work SO hard so just remember to bring someone with you to an appointment if you can so you aren’t by yourself, bring ALL the snacks and make sure to have a book or something to keep you occupied. I kept myself entertained just by people watching haha.
Bring your own belongings
I’m talking your own cushions, duvet, pillows, fairy lights.. Anything you want basically. Oh and toiletries because the hospital one’s are awful, they dry your skin out and don’t smell of anything. Obviously check with your own hospital first but if you are in for a long stay I’d recommend bringing anything you can to make your room more homely even though nothing feels like your own bed but hopefully it will make your stay more comfortable.
Always have support
When going through tests and having appointments at one hospital or even different hospitals it can be a scary time so having support is vital. Just having one person by your side can make a massive difference. I didn’t go to one appointment without having someone by my side and I know not everyone has someone they can ask so if you are nervous talk to the receptionist and they can sometimes ask a nurse to sit in with you. Remember you are never alone.
Get out of bed
Weird one I know but if you can physically get out of bed and feel well enough to go for a walk definitely do because it can help you physically and mentally. Being in a hospital room by yourself isn’t very fun so having a walk to get out for a while can help so much. I used to go for a walk to the shop in the hospital which wasn’t too far from the ward I was staying in and even though sometimes I didn’t feel like it was nice to get out of the same four walls of my room.
Keep a notebook handy
Doctor’s will give you a lot of information regarding treatment and you will become so overwhelmed with everything they tell you so keeping a notebook by you at all times when in an appointment is the best thing you can do. I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten important bits of information regarding treatment, kind of glad I always have my mom on hand as she remembers everything haha.
Wear suitable clothing
This one may sound a little strange but trust me it makes it so much easier. Let’s say if a doctor needs to look at your belly or back and you have a jumpsuit on.. That’s really not going to work. I would normally just go to appointments in jeans and a t-shirt so just comfortable clothes. If you are going for a scan though I would normally try and wear something other than jeans, as you are more than likely going to have to change into a gown but sometimes they let you keep your trousers on if they don’t have any metal parts on them.
Food. Bring your own!
We all know hospital food isn’t the best and so bring in your own food! The nurses were happy for my family to bring in snacks and I’m pretty sure they would have been okay for them to bring in hot food as well but as I was neutropenic most of the time I could only have certain foods and even though most days I didn’t feel like eating anything it was nice just to have a choice when I wanted too as eating is important and it won’t go unnoticed by your nurses if you aren’t eating enough. I was put on those awful drinks that give you all the nutrients and I was so glad to get off them and eat properly.
The best thing you can do while going through any procedure is relax, even if it’s just a blood test. I know it’s so easy for me to say relax but everything will be okay. I know when I was going through all my tests I got so worked up before them because I didn’t know what was coming but if you are nervous talk to your nurse tell her how nervous you are and they will go through everything with you. I remember going into surgery for a central line to be put into my chest so they could put my treatment through it and this was my second time going through that procedure but I was super nervous as the first time I had such a bad experience. I was waiting in an area before going into surgery and a nurse came over and I just burst into tears but she was so so lovely and talked to me until I calmed down. Nurses are honestly angels.
That’s all my tips for dealing with hospitals which I hope you found useful! I might have forgotten some but I’ll update this as soon as I remember.