Kimmie’s Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

A year ago my friend was going into surgery and she asked me how I keep sane and positive throughout all of the emotions surrounding a hospital stay. So I came up with a list of things that might help.

Surgery can be daunting and the idea of it can drive even the toughest person insane. In one of my earlier posts I listed a few of the surgeries I have had…needless to say, I have spent a majority of my life at the hospital. I have had great care, ok care and some care that has driven my mother into somehow making a very bad nurse disappear, never to venture into my room again. Over the years I have figured out some tried and true methods that make my hospital stay and conquering even the toughest of my surgeries, something that doesn’t suck as much as it should.

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

1. Allow yourself to cry, slam some doors and feel upset. Give yourself permission to be angry. Or if you are anything like me, take a long drive with the windows rolled down, music blasted to some folk-americana/dixie chick song that you can sing along with while snot drips down your face. Don’t be ashamed…its a healthy part of the process and its better to get it out of your system, pre-game day!

2. Everyone thinks of the after..but trust me, you have better drugs after. So have people with you before surgery that will make you laugh and keep you distracted while they check you in. I have a bestie that shows up at my 6am check-in, with her coffee of course, and spends the next few hours either showing me random animal memes, catching me up on the latest word in the urban dictionary or replays our crazy college moments together to any nurse that comes in…which leads me to #3 on the list.

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

3. Make friends with the anesthesiologist/nurses that are going to be caring for you….cause they give you the “juju” (aka happy juice) and are priceless. Tell them if you are scared, or if you have a high/low drug tolerance..the more you tell them, the better they can care for you. Of course pre-surgery they have their normal list of questions that help them to know more about your previous medical history, but I always like to fill in the missing pieces that might help them. Important things in my opinion are…Things that make you nauseas? If body parts hurt after lying down for a long time, what helps you alleviate it (heating pad, massage, etc)? Do you have a low or high drug tolerance? Do drugs wear off quickly? Do you cry if nervous or anxious (or in my case do you cry and sing worship songs in the operating room if you are nervous..ya, the people at OHSU cardiac cath lab have heard quite a bit of singing from me)? Don’t be afraid to ask for a hand to hold or someone that will talk with you while going under…I ask for someone every time, and every time I have someone next to me.

4. Go in with a positive spirit and trust that you are stronger than you will ever imagine.

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

5. Communicate what you think you will need after and have your team ready! Stock your house with comfort foods, put classic movies or tv shows that always make you laugh on your Netflix queue…think about what you like to have around you when you are sick and create a space for you to fall into after you get home. Bring some thing that will motivate and calm you after surgery…my classic bring-alongs are a blanket (fuzzy of course), girlie mags, heating pad and my kindle. At the hospital have people around that will make you laugh, someone to baby you and someone to cheer you on. Thankfully I have family that fills all three of these things for me.

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

6. Once you can have food/drinks ALWAYS pick your “hangover” food. Anything you know you can keep down while hungover or in the midst of the flu. Post surgery is not the time to try that meatloaf on the menu that sounds good…cause if you puke it up, they make you wait even longer to eat. My tried and true is grilled cheese, fries, sprite and some grapes.

7. If you are ready to leave that hospital, they usually have three basic things they want you to do…keep food down, pee and start walking it out. I have cried during all three before, but trust me it gets easier. I turn all three into my Olympic sport and dominate! In my head I’ve received many gold medals and have had my own heartwarming athlete promos that air on the network before every event (you know which ones I’m talking about, you know you cry when you see them). LOL

8. Lastly, remember that you are loved and that people are praying for you. I’ve had 33 years of proof that the power of prayer and the healing love of those around you can lift you through the toughest of surgeries. Ask for prayer, ask for positive Facebook posts and txts from people on the day of your surgery. I have seen more love shown by people and more prayer miracles happen when I reach out.

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay  Kimmie's Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

Let’s be honest..I am scared EVERY single time I go to the hospital. It never gets easier, it never becomes something fun that I want to repeat. However, for most of us living with a chronic illness or a congenital heart defect we know that we will be back to the hospital. So it is important to start to see yourself as a warrior, a survivor and someone that can conquer any procedure put in front of you. Allow yourself to see the humor (like the time my hospital bed stopped working and it tried to close in on me LOL) (or the time my friends got stuck in the stairwell trying to find my room again) in every moment and remember you are always stronger than you think!

So I leave you with some questions….what are your helpful hospital stay ideas? What has worked to keep you motivated while in the hospital? I’d love to hear from you all!

As always, I hope you enjoyed my View from the Recovery Trail….

xo Kimmie

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2 Comments on “Kimmie’s Guide to a Happy Hospital Stay

  1. Wonderful blog, Kimmie. What you have to say is very valid. I can’t speak to having heart surgeries, but I’ve had my own long stint in surgery at OHSU. What was posted by me and others on my laptop and ipad before and after surgery (when I was finally strong enough and could focus a bit to find the keyboard) kept me in contact with the world to which I wanted to return. Prayer between Dave and I, from others on a humongous prayer chain, prayer before surgery from the team at OHSU, and making use of the hospital chaplain (who was wonderful, warm and caring and could instantly decipher my needs and direct prayer in those directions was super important constantly reminded me that I was in God’s hands. But, what was also important to do was to pray for myself, for God to give me the courage, emotional and physical strength to get through the surgery and to face the long healing time which could take years (and has). It was also important to use prayer to help myself (I came from a religious upbringing where we didn’t pray for ourselves, we always prayed for others) in the times during which I felt the anxiety rise to the point where I wanted to start screaming and I knew that if I did, I’d probably never stop. Pray worked every time. The weight–yes, I recognize that. When one’s been skinny one’s whole life, it was hard not to come down on myself, and still is, on gaining weight–and for the same reasons you mentioned: no energy. Some days I can hardly move for secondary pains brought on by the surgery and the shifting of my spine due to changes in the prosthesis that was put in my chest. I’ve been asked what’s it like to have ‘that’ inside of you and my response has been that it’s just fine. I feel blessed that surgeons are even able to do this surgery because ten years ago, they might not have been able to. God keeps giving mankind wonderful advances in technology to do what they do. Yes, by all means, be really kind to your nurses as they are your lifeline to what’s going on outside of your room and building. There upbeat attitudes are there for a reason. You may just want to sleep, but the nurses know what they’re doing when they rip open your blinds so a ‘little light’ can come in. You may be given an extra gift of wonderment at what you see outside. You have a wonderful support system and you have your mom’s humor. 🙂

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  2. My key to hospital sanity is whenever possible I buy myself a new comfy cardigan, or soft nightgown, or maybe a nice new pair of socks to take with me. It’s not always possible to avoid the hospital gown. They’re designed to work the best with IVs & monitors. But there have been times where I forget what ‘normal’ is until the day of discharge when I get to put on my ‘real’ clothes. I’ve found just having my hubby bring me my cute pink socks or a cardigan from home (cardigan NOT pullover so it still opens on front) can make me feel more human again. I’ve had my share of surgeries (mostly outpatient) my rule for outpatient surgery is to wear something loose with a comfy stretchy waist band into the hospital because when you come out you’re not going to want anything near that incision site. In fact sometimes I’ve had surgeries where no inseam or waistband was going to
    comfortable so I wore a maxi dress. Thank you for all your great insight Kimmie & for the laughter. Thinking of you having to deal with something so ridiculous as a self folding bed or your Mom handling the negative nurse just makes me grin.

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