“Your Hospital Guide” Part 5 (of 5) of Chapter 1 (Always Have Someone with You in the Hospital)

Choosing your Hospital Buddy/Buddies:

Who should be your Hospital Buddy?  You should be accompanied by someone you trust to take accurate notes for you, someone who will speak up for you and question people when necessary, and who is able to put up with you when you are in a less-than-perfect-health-induced crabby mood.  It should be someone with whom you are comfortable sharing medical information.  It also should be someone with whom you have discussed your general medical goals and wishes, including what you would want done in a life-threatening emergency (if this person is not your legal medical proxy (someone to whom you have given the legal authority to speak for you in a medical situation if you are incapacitated), he must know who your legal medical proxy is and how to reach that person).  This person could be a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or a hired Hospital Buddy (there are private nurses available for hire, as well as trained non-nurse hospital companions who can especially be helpful overnight).

It is tiring, both physically and emotionally, for someone to be your Hospital Buddy.  Therefore, you might want to line up a few people, if possible.  This will enable people to take turns, so that everyone has a chance to get home (or to a local hotel) to shower (guests are not allowed to use patient showers), sleep, and attend to any other urgent matters.  If the hospital stay is only for a couple of days, then one person should generally be adequate.  If the hospital stay stretches beyond two or three days, it helps to call in the reinforcements, even if only for a few hours each day or a few overnight shifts.

When people to whom you are not close enough to ask them to be your Hospital Buddy ask what they can do to help, request that they help hold things together at home.  If your Hospital Buddy is your spouse or someone else you live with, ask a neighbor to take in your mail and take care of your pets.  If you have young children, have a friend, family member, or trusted adult babysitter stay with them so that your spouse can be with you.  Other help-offerers can be asked to bring dinner the first few nights you’re back in your house.  The more people you allow to help you, the less pressure you’ll feel like you’re putting on any one person.

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