Thursday, January 7, 2016

5 Things about Post-Hospital Recovery

In the last six months, I’ve cared for two of my kids who’ve had cardiothoracic surgery. Here’s what I’ve learned about post-hospital recovery.
1. Keep a medication list and write down what you gave, when you gave it, and how long until the next dose. (And set an alarm on your phone alerting you to the next dose. Yes, this may mean up to ten alarms set on your phone—some programmer ought to make alarms with titles, i.e., 2am—hydrocodone, 4am—diazepam, etc.)

File:Handmade sleepmasks eyemasks Paris, France.jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Me: Uh, so did I give you this medicine an hour ago?
Recovering patient: No.
Me: Are you sure? I vaguely remember being up at 2am.
Patient: I took some pills then. I think they were white.
Me (squinting): They’re all white. Do you remember how many pills you took?
Patient: No. What happens either way?
Me: Excruciating pain. Or drugged stupor.
Patient: I vote for drugged stupor.

2.  Lidocaine patches ought to be manufactured in Ace bandage-type rolls.

Me: How do you feel?
Patient: It hurts here, here, here and here. Basically, everything outside of the borders of the lidocaine patches hurts.

3. Your patient feels mildly guilty because of all the care you’re providing and the sleep you’re missing, so now’s the time to get them to watch your favorite movies/mini-series.

Me: Look, I bought Poldark. Let’s watch it.
Patient: Haven’t you seen this before?
Me: Yes, but you haven’t!
(I strongly urge watching early in the recovery process. Oh, sweetie, you feel asleep in the middle of the episode, don’t you want to watch it again?)

4. Once you exhaust your mind’s ability to write and read (who knew such exhaustion existed?), there are computer games. I am now queen of Nova, having survived all assassination attempts; I am currently a Gray Warden; I’m an interstellar captain, probing Geth attacks; and I’m a cold case investigator. (My kids, having guided my path through KOTR over the past year, now believe I have the makings of a full-fledged gamer—hence all the games they gave me for Christmas. And I must say, the plotting, backstory, and world-building in many of these games is phenomenal.)

5. Sleep Masks. I’d never worn one before. But they are awesome. Especially when ICU nurses come every hour for vitals. And perfect when you’re trying to catch up on sleep at home during the middle of the day. I have one with zebra stripes. Love it!


  1. I regularly keep the list of times medication has been given when someone is sick. It can be so confusing and my years of keeping medication records as a nurse comes through.

  2. Also keep a list of questions, symptoms, and concerns for the Dr. Too many people think the doctor can figure things out by examining the patient, but doctors and nurses learn a lot by the information you give them.

  3. I trust both of your kids are recuperating nicely, and sometime soon, you'll be able to get a good night's sleep again. My hubby and I both take multiple medications every day, and we keep them straight by doling them out into little containers for each day, a week at a time. Something similar (but probably more complicated) might work for you, too. You could mark each container (even a plastic sandwich bag!) with the child's name and time of day the pills inside are to be taken. Best thing this method did for me is to immediately answer the question, "Did I take those darned pills...?" An egg carton would work as a way to separate doses, too.

  4. This has been a crazy, demanding holiday season for you. Who knew you'd come back to the demands of a newborn sleeping schedule, eh? Way to be a super mom! Keep it up and make sure you get plenty of cheese, eh?

  5. Hugs, hugs, hugs to you, Connie. I hope your kids are recovering nicely! <3