Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Prepare for an Extended Hospital Stay

On Saturday night Sunday morning some point next week, we're supposed to be admitted for the first of Adi's HR treatments (pending an increase in neutrophils, etc.). He'll be in the hospital for at least six days. And we'll do that twice more in the next few weeks.

You may recall that we spent close to three weeks in the hospital a few weeks ago (I mentioned that, right? Once or twice?), but the advantage that we have this time is that we KNOW we're going in for an extended stay. So we can actually plan appropriately. 

Here are my ever-so-helpful recommendations for preparing for an extended stay on the pediatric oncology ward.

1. Talk to the kid. 

It's really important to, you know, TELL YOUR KID that he's going to be sleeping in the hospital for a few days. Older kids are sort of automatically involved in this process, but I know that I personally had a TERRIBLE habit of taking Adi to all sorts of appointments when he was a toddler and I never bothered to explain anything to him. So learn from my mistake, and tell your kid about the hospitalization: the anticipated length, what's scheduled to happen, who will be with him or her when, and so on.

2. Talk to your other kids. 

I have a really terrible habit of forgetting to tell my OTHER kids what's going on. They are constantly shocked to find out that Adi is in the hospital. Don't be the idiot that I am. 

3. Review your family calendar.

If you have, say, your second-grader's spelling bee during a hospitalization, you want to know sooner, rather than later. This allows you the maximum possible amount of time to agonize with guilt over how much you are letting all your children down figure out alternate coverage arrangements. Here is a hint: YOU ARE ALLOWED TO LET SOMEONE ELSE BE WITH THE KID IN THE HOSPITAL OCCASIONALLY. I know that it FEELS like sacrilege, but it's not. HOWEVER, if you are not going to be emotionally available for the spelling bee kid, then send the alternate person there. But make sure it's a really cool alternate person, not like a boring step-uncle who's going to check his phone the whole time. 

4. Make a packing list. 

Your brain is non-functional. Trust me on this. You may be POSITIVE that you will remember the iPad charger, but you will forget it. And you will be sorry. So make a freaking list. On your phone, on paper, whatever works for you. In my ideal world (you know, the one where my kid DOESN'T HAVE LEUKEMIA), I have a printed, laminated list that is attached to the suitcase. In reality, I have a checklist on my phone. I will never, ever be crafty Pintrest mom. 

5. Pack food and drinks and cups and plates and stuff. 

If your hospital is like mine, there is a store that sells junk food and sandwiches and drinks. The only problem is that they charge an absolute FORTUNE for these items. So buy them at the supermarket and pack them in your suitcase. (By the way, for our first few stays, we didn't bring a suitcase. We just used thousands of plastic bags. We looked like affluent homeless people. Don't do that.) Also, leave the items in the plastic bags the grocery store puts them in. You will need those plastic bags for trash and laundry. 

6. Ask your kid what he wants to take. But set limits.

If it were up to Adi, he would have ALL his trucks at the hospital for EVERY stay. Um, no. We let him pick a couple of things to take -- and he can switch items over the course of the stay, but the total number of items should not exceed, say, 2 cubic feet, or 3 times pi plus ANC or something. I don't know. We also pack Adi's blanket (Buzz Lightyear, natch), and we usually remember to bring a towel from home. 

7. Figure out the plan for your other kids.

One of the worst parts of this cancer journey is when I get phone calls from Yoni's school. "Hi, Yoni doesn't know where he's supposed to go after school today." PARENTING FAIL. Figure this crap out. Preferably BEFORE the hospitalization starts.

8. Pack a power strip. And possibly an extension cord. 

You're going to need to charge your phone, your kid's iPad, possibly your kid's phone, and so on. And the nurses get all huffy when you unplug the IVAC to plug in your iPhone. I mean, HELLO? So a power strip can be a good thing. And if your kid is using the iPad around the clock, an extension cord ensures uninterrupted play.

I'm sure this isn't everything -- but it's a start. So, anything to add? What would you do to prepare for an extended stay in the hospital?

1 comments: said...

So helpful! We're newbies to this and I can't believe how much we're forgetting or doing the hard way. I'm having to come to grips with the fact that I no longer have common sense or emotional energy. Does that come back? Anyway, thanks for your advice and humour and not being a perfect Pintrest mom because then I'd have to hate you.