Yesterday, I was asked by a client what my hospital stay was like after my breast reconstruction. It made me think back to the unpleasantness of the stay, but also the nurses and hospital staff that were so great. I could not really remember it all so I had to look back.

Oh The Stories To Tell
Blog written November 24, 2012 from The Compression Garment Diaries

After eight days in the hospital and two roommates, there is plenty to tell. Things I learned after a hospital stay:

  • never take for granted anything that you can do for yourself
  • don’t underestimate the health care system unless you have been through it
  • a health care aide can be the deciding factor in making it to the washroom in time
  • passing gas is classier than farting
  • a curtain between roomies does not provide a soundproof barrier, even when you whisper
  • hospital food really is horrible; no matter how much gravy it is covered in, the taste cannot be hidden
  • there is a limit to how many needles one person can take
  • there is no limit to pain medication when you are waiting for the nurse to respond to the call bell
  • there are people who are worse off than you

The nurses and health care aides were my lifeline, from daily washing, changing my dressings, caring for me emotionally (go figure – there were many tears), getting me fed, and providing motivation to keep going when disappointment was at the forefront. I am grateful for the many nurses who cared for me. It would have been terrible had there not been some amazing people around. The nurses’ station got a kick out of how many visitors I had. Apparently, they had not seen as many visitors for one patient
before. So thank you, as the days would have dragged on had so many of you not broken up the monotony.

It is great to be home, even though I am mostly bedridden, being around my own things and my family is comforting. Progress is slow but certain. I think of all the flights of stairs I have run over the past year. Compared to maneuvering myself out of bed without bending at the hips, I choose the stairs! After being horizontal for 6 days, the body forgets how to walk that easily or quickly. My “light exercise” consists of laps around my living room, after which I am winded! Pathetic, but nonetheless progress. I have to stand to type this entry and it is exhausting, so I will need a nap.

Blog written November 25, 2012 from The Compression Garment Diaries

A private suite is a rarity in the hospital. They keep these for patients that have an infection and need to be away from the general population. Understandable. Semiprivate is two beds versus the 4 or 6 bed areas, so pretty private considering how much noise one person apparently produces. Every sound that comes from a human body echoes throughout your semiprivate, not so private space. That is why passing gas is preferable to the alternative (farting). I would like to think I was included with the passing gas class. My first roomie (let us call her Appendicitis) had room for improvement.

Appendicitis had no issue letting go. In her mind, she was in a private suite with poured concrete walls. I however was kept awake for two days. I get we all deal with pain differently, but really, it was just about all the morphine clicker and I could handle. Every movement she made was partnered with a moan, a curse, a burp or a fart. I thought I was rooming with Linda Blair from the Exorcist. I was sure getting your appendix out was a day surgery…apparently not. This person could give anyone a run for their money in a burping the alphabet contest or demon flatulence. Good times.

Room mate number two, at first just pissed me off. Firstly, I finally had my own suite back and he was intruding. Secondly, he had a bed in one of the four bed suites; did his insurance really cover a semiprivate? He was very young, like “why isn’t he in Children’s Hospital?” young. Not that I was listening, but what else is there to do other than try and find out what your roomie is in for? It took me days to figure it out. I wasn’t pissed off at him anymore. Just when I thought a small lump had changed my life and that I deserved a private room more than the next patient, think twice.

Even though the youngster was loud, and he watched movies until midnight, by the end of my stay, my attitude had changed. Over the next three days, various doctors, specialists and nurses visited the patient. Each visit came with a battery of tests, and this 18 year old was trying to make very adult decisions. He had initially gone to emergency thinking he had a bad case of bronchitis.

As I have learned, one word can change your future, get you a note to drop out of university, allow credible sick time, and rearrange your plans for the future. Just one word. I have learned until you know the whole back-story, hold off on judging what you think to be true. At 18, when his whole life was in front of him, if getting a private room was his only request after being diagnosed with Hodkin’s lymphoma, then please take my room.