Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Trove of Tiredness Types

At the moment, I’m tired.  A good tired, actually.  A tired that comes from a densely packed four-day adventure with a lot of high school kids.

Not all tired is good tired.  There’s the tired that comes from hearing about yet another tragedy on the news.  There’s the tired that comes from having an ailing loved one.  There’s the tired that results from work frustrations.  Or from working too many hours over too long a time.  Or from working under too much pressure.  Or from deep worry.  You feel stressed.  You can feel your heart beating, but you haven’t exercised – you just don’t feel quite right.  You want to sleep, but you don’t sleep well.  There’s no shortage of bad tired causes, and the bad kind of tired takes its toll on a person, both psychologically and physically.

For some of these bad tireds, a good tired can help.  You know that feeling after a long day of hiking?  You went many miles, breathing the fresh air, marvelling at the views, listening to the sounds of the forest, carrying a backpack.  You get back to your tent or your motel room or your house, and you sit down to eat something.  Your legs are a little sore.  As you sit for a few minutes, you realize that you simply must go to bed.  And you sleep magnificently.  A day of skiing does this, too.  Or a day of canoeing.  And it can provide significant relief from some of the worried or stressed or frustrated tireds.

The good kind of tired can also come from too little sleep because of a brief period of recreation.  For example, chaperoning a high school band trip to New York City.  A long overnight bus ride (sleeping done in really uncomfortable short spurts), counting kids, a whirlwind tour of a world-class city – walking from one sight to another, counting kids, carrying instruments, counting kids, sharing in the awe of a herd of teenagers seeing Times Square lit up at night, following them from hat store to candy store to the toy store (yes, there’s still plenty at FAO Schwartz too keep teens entertained), counting kids, playing the latest versions of hackey sack, counting kids, setting up for concerts, seeing concerts, counting kids, tucking kids into hotel rooms late at night, getting up early to have breakfast with them each day, checking their rooms to see what they forgot to pack, counting kids, reminding them to bring their jackets on the cold days, giving your jacket to the kid that didn’t bring his, counting kids through Central Park, carrying more instruments, a long overnight bus ride home, unloading suitcases, checking the bus for forgotten socks, jackets, shoes, music folders, money, drinks, a string of Christmas lights (really, not making that up)……

A really good tired refreshes.  It renews.  It relieves.  And I’m ready for my head to hit my pillow for that magnificent sleep tonight!

Explosions and Reactions

Just over five hours ago, there were explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  It’s too soon to know any real details, and questions abound – how many people were hurt?  Was it terrorism or an accident?  If it was terrorism, who would do such a thing and why?  Are there more explosives?  Are the people I know ok?  Will it happen again, and if so, where and when?  Did we miss warnings?  What could we have done to prevent this?  How do we prevent this from happening again?  How do I explain this to my children?  Is the casualty toll going to be worse than originally predicted?

I can’t help but notice a similarity to initial reactions to a new significant medical diagnosis.  What?  Cancer?  For real, or is there some sort of mistake?  How bad is it?  Has it spread?  Will it spread more?  Is it curable?  Did I miss warnings?  What could I have done to prevent this?  How do I prevent this from happening to other family members?  How do I explain this to my children?

So many questions.  So few answers at the beginning.  Some answers will come, but many questions will remain unanswered.  And it’s really hard to wait for answers and to live with uncertainty.  But when we react blindly, without gathering enough of the appropriate information, we can do ourselves gross disservice.

So we wait.  We rely on those who have been trained in their respective fields to ask the right questions and find as much accurate information as possible.  We question those experts, and seek additional opinions.  We won’t always like the answers to the questions.

And to some questions, there are no answers.  And some days are hard.


Leaving the Stress of the Hospital for the Stress of Leaving the Hospital

Our recent veterinary ordeal hammered home for me one of the most important hospital issues (for humans, as well as our fuzzy friends): the transition from hospital to home.  I have a section in “Your Hospital Guide” devoted to this subject, since it is a major deal.

The time around a hospital discharge can be a time of mixed emotions. Hospitals are not fun places to be, and there are many risks within them. We’re generally pretty happy when we or someone we love is deemed well enough to leave. But a lot of us are hit at the same time with a huge wallop of fear and panic: what if he’s not really ready yet? What if something happens and I don’t have the resources that I would have in the hospital? What if I don’t notice something that a doctor would notice?

The keys to a safe hospital discharge are communication and preparation.  Listen carefully to everything the doctors and nurses say to you before leaving, and make sure it’s all written down.  When reviewing the discharge instructions, ask questions whenever anything is not completely crystal clear, and write down the answers.  And make certain that you have 24-hour phone numbers to call when you have further questions, because no matter how thorough you are with your pre-leaving-the-hospital questioning, other things will come up.

Within two days of bringing our dog home from the veterinary hospital, even though I had spent a good amount of time speaking with both the veterinary student and the veterinarian before leaving,  I made at least a dozen phone calls back to the vet hospital.  Medication X is supposed to be given once a day – I picked him up at 6 p.m., so do I give that medication tonight, or did he already get it today?  Can the medications be taken with food?  Can the medications be taken together?  His cheeks are sort of puffing in and out with his breathing – do I need to worry?  When exactly is he supposed to wear the cone?  His staples are supposed to come out in a week – that brings us to a Saturday night, so is a day or two before or after that ok?  And which would be better – a little early or a little late?  You said he should eat a low fat diet – for how long?  He’s not eating.  He doesn’t seem to like the food – is it more important for him not to have fat, or more important for him to eat?

It was easy to ask all these questions, because the veterinary hospital is open 24 hours a day, and there are always students and vets on site that can answer follow-up questions.  Hospitals for animals are small – the staff knows all of the patients.  It’s frequently more complicated with hospitals for humans, which are much larger and which often have multiple specialists caring for patients.

Before you leave a hospital, know whom you should call for what types of questions or situations.  If the nurse tells you to call your primary care doctor with any questions, make sure you speak with your primary care doctor before you leave, and that she has been fully updated on your situation and feels comfortable with immediate post-hospital questions.  If you’ve had surgery during your stay, make sure you have a phone number to reach the on-call surgeon.

It can take a little while to relax back into a normal routine after a hospital stay.  Be patient with yourself, and never be afraid to call your medical team with questions.