Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Things Learned During My Stay in the Hospital

There is a lot that you don’t know until you need to know it. After nearly two months in a hospital bed flat on my back I am going to share the experience from the “rear view mirror.”
Some background: after productive Saturday on April 23, I headed to my car for my final errand at 9 p.m. and thought to change my hiking boots (which I wore all day doing garden work) dismissed it as taking too much time and headed out the door, carrying a vase of flowers.

Almost to the car I descended the slate stairs to where I was parked on Cherry Street. I looked up to see where the car was and I felt my hiking boot’s deep tread get hung on the edge of the slate stair and the next thing I know I was propelled forward into the street. Having thrown the vase to the side in a flash of good sense during the flight, I landed and then thought I was ok and went to get up, only to feel the sense of knives inside my pelvis slicing and dicing. I yelled for help. My good neighbor Richard Rodgers was walking his dog and seeing the predicament came to help and went into my house to get my husband Steve.

The ambulance came from the Sleepy Hollow Road station at Seven Corners. Every second seems to go so slowly when you are in severe pain. I was shaking and out of control of my body. After the EMTs evaluated my condition and loaded me into the ambulance I received a medication that felt like tiny little blankets covering each and every cell; it was a wonderful sensation. My shaking calmed.

I was worried about internal bleeding and, the EMT at that moment said my blood pressure was very high (180 over something) but that it was stable so that means there is no internal bleeding; he was reading my mind and gave me answers before the question was verbalized. He held my leg up at the knee away from my body to minimize the excruciating pain. The ride was quick even though the other EMT, Billy was driving slowly to minimize the bumping. They both disappeared quickly once we arrived at the hospital.

I had to lie still on my back and let the bones heal on their own – six weeks or so – I was told.

Since the big medical outcome of my fall was that they couldn’t “set” or “operate” on the broken bones in my pelvis-“we can just help you manage the pain”. I had to lie still on my back and let the bones heal on their own – six weeks or so – I was told.

Here are 10 things I learned in the Virginia Hospital Center:

1) Just because you are in the Emergency Room doesn’t mean you have an emergency that gets immediately treated….even though you are taken directly to a treatment room it can take hours before you are “ready” to be admitted ie. stabilized, tested, diagnosed, medicated and in a hospital room;

2) Having your medical information, especially your allergies, and a medical advocate with you (who knows the information and is vigilant) is important. Someone who can fetch, call the nurse, or report an adverse reaction to a drug, make phone calls to family, friends, etc. is really helpful while in the Emergency Room treatment area.

3) Pain medications vary significantly in effectiveness and side effects while taking them and stopping them.

4) Food doesn’t taste the same in a hospital, even food brought in from home, or restaurants;

5) Family, friends, flowers, food, cards, calls, texts are the best medicine once the doctors have finished.

6) Receiving “service” by others, especially friends and family is difficult at first, and very humbling. I learned yet again what an incredible blessing it is to have such caring and giving people in my life.

7) Many of my nurses were young and recently out of college. They were predominantly from Virginia colleges and were quite impressive in their knowledge, skills, and had wonderful attitudes toward the patients, and a good sense of humor. All of the nurses were very helpful and were good company. I was pleasantly surprised at the number who were on scholarship, or were having their education funded by the hospital;

8) Like New York City, the hospital never sleeps and cat naps are not only suggested but necessary once you get down the schedule of doctor visits, medications, floor waxings, breakfast, room cleanings, lunch, shots, dinner, visiting hours, personal services, etc. Being in the hospital does not necessarily mean you get rest. Lots of people you know and don’t know come to see you.

9) I should start a business making hospital gowns that have double-front or rear snap system in snazzy, fun designs.

10) Patience and Patients have a lot in common (besides the letters).