Tips About the Hospital

Last updated: August 2022

As a heart failure and heart attack patient, I've been admitted to the hospital a few times. I wanted to share a few things I've learned about how the hospitals I've been to work just to make any upcoming hospital stays easier.

Tips from being in the hospital as a heart failure patient:

Time, transfers, testing

First of all, I have come to understand that hospitals work on a different time frame. It is not the 8 AM -5 PM. So, for example, room changes can happen at any time. They have transferred me from the emergency department (ED) to a room in the general hospital at 1 AM. Same thing happened to me when they were moving me from the cardiac ICU to a general room.

I was told that it has to do with when shifts start and end, and since often there is a shift change at 11 PM, nobody is going to put in a transfer order before that, and it takes a while for things to get going, which is why it is not uncommon to have room transfers happen at midnight. Along those lines, in-room tests (like a chest X-ray, bedside ultrasounds), labs being drawn, vitals taken, etc., can truly happen at any time. For example, I have had X-rays happen as early as 7 AM and been asked to get on a scale at 5 AM. That being said, in my experience, most hospitals do have quiet hours starting at 10 PM when visitors are asked to leave, lights are put down, etc. It is possible to get sleep in a hospital for sure.

Another thing to realize is that at times, things in hospitals can take a while, like tests being read, orders being put in, etc. I have not figured out exactly why, but just be prepared that to my point above, hospitals can operate on a different timeline.

How to manage the wait

So along those lines, it can feel at times like hurry up then wait. I would recommend reading material if that is your thing, a Switch if you are a gamer, or really anything that you can do in a bed that helps pass the time.

I recently wrote an article on what to bring to the hospital, and one thing I would emphasize is a charger for your phone. If you are not well acquainted with programs like Youtube, you can watch entire movies on there for free!

Another way to pass the time is to get up and move around. If you are mobile, your hospital setting might allow you to take laps up and down the hall or even do circles around the ward. You can set goals for yourself and see how many laps you can take in a day, morning, etc. Just stay safe, but the more you can get up and move around, the better. Some hospitals might even mark the distance per lap if you are someone who would find that information motivating.

Food and dietary restrictions

I have also found that hospital food is truly not bad! Yes, it's not the best. However, I have found it perfectly edible, it arrives quickly, and there is a decent array of expectations. As long as food meets any dietary restrictions, most hospitals allow food to be brought in as well if there is a particular item that you are craving. You can check with your nurse and/or a dietary consultant within the hospital as well if you are unsure whether an item meets any dietary restrictions.

New medicines and follow-ups

My last piece of advice is that hospitals can change the medications and/or dosages of existing medicines. If you are someone who has a routine of when you take your medications, that might have to be adjusted when you return from the hospital. There might also be post-discharge doctor's appointments to be made as well. If things get overwhelming, just take it one step at a time!

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