Getting Organized at the Hospital

Author: Shannon Miller

May 25, 2011

Article provided by SML guest blogger Tammy Badida

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a degree in medicine, so when I began hearing so many different things from many different doctors, it became overwhelming to me. Often the treatment plan would change daily, and honestly, there were days that I would leave the hospital not always understanding everything that I had been told.

I quickly learned that I would have to take notes and ask questions, and that none of my questions were too naive to ask. You are the one that will be taking care of your loved one when they leave that hospital (and in many ways, while they are still there), and you have to have a solid understanding of what is going on so you will feel comfortable. If I did not understand something, I would ask the doctors to please explain it to me again, and sometimes even again after that. In essence, I became my husband’s spokesperson. I learned to educate myself on certain terms the doctors would use by means of the Internet. Most of the doctors would leave me their business card, but if not, I would always ask for it. You will have no idea how valuable it is to be able to keep track of your loved one’s doctors, especially when you have a whole team of them visiting each day.

Many times my husband would not be able to communicate with me effectively due to medications and sheer anxiety. I found it important to request to be contacted if I was not there and something changed. I posted my contact number where everyone could see it in the room. I familiarized myself with the hospital and what they offered. Some hospitals will offer you printed schedules of upcoming procedures and appointments. Getting organized like this from the start can take a lot of pressure off of you, and even more off of the patient.

A little less than a month in, I found that I benefited greatly from taking just a little bit of time for myself to regroup, even at the hospital. Find a chapel if they have one, or some other place you can go to have some quiet time, to think, and to pray. I had wonderful friends that would offer to bring me lunch, and if at all possible, I took that time to eat, breathe in some fresh air, and just try to relax for a bit. The emotional exhaustion from sitting at a hospital every day is very real, and it will begin to take its toll without you even realizing it. You owe it to yourself and your loved one to take a moment, get out of the hospital room, and decompress. After a few days I started getting into a routine, something which provided a much needed sense of constancy amidst the seeming chaos. You will be amazed at the difference it can make.

“There are two approaches to the future: anxiety and optimism. One will make you dread tomorrow; the other will help you welcome it.” -Barbara Johnson, Daily Splashes of Joy

Article by Tammy Badida

Tammy’s story of “Learning to Live” during a life-changing battle has encouraged and reached so many already and can be found at:

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8 Responses to “ Getting Organized at the Hospital ”

  1. J Baker Says:

    May 25th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I never would have thought of asking for or expecting a procedure schedule. What a great way of staying organized with the hospital treatment while still allowing you to take care of yourself.

    I’m sorry you had to go through this but know that you are helping so many people by sharing your experience.

    Nick would be beaming proud.

  2. Crystal Mixson Says:

    May 25th, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Dear Tammy,
    Your words are so wise and wonderful! Your encouraging words release the caregiver from feeling guilty about taking care of themselves. It is important for the caregivers well-being and it’s important so we can take the best care of our loved one. I know you have helped a lot of people by helping them be more prepared and not afraid to ask questions.

  3. Michelle Mead Says:

    May 26th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    So encouraging and informative! It truly helps others to hear first hand from someone who has been there!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom and heart.

  4. Terri Holmes Says:

    May 26th, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I can imagine anyone who has just begun this type of journey is out of sorts and just trying to wrap their minds around their situation. What a great message and response from someone who has been through it. Thank you for recognizing a need and doing something about it. You don’t just toss out a quick – “Well, I’ll pray for you.” or “Cheer up! Don’t worry, be happy! Feel good! Put on a happy face?” We show our faith by what we do. Thank you for doing and sharing your experiences. I pray this will help alleviate some of the stresses that come with being a caregiver.

  5. Kelley Hastings Says:

    May 26th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    This is so true and great advice for anyone going through a lengthy hospital stay. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  6. Regina Morgan Says:

    May 26th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Tammy – I am a high school friend of Ashley’s from Waycross. I read the blog that was posted this morning and then went on to read your personal blog. I sat here at my desk and wept as it brought back such personal memories from the loss of my mother 14 years ago to ovarian cancer. She died when I was 28 and I was her Hospice family caregiver. I remember the days of praying for God to heal her but then praying for God to take her and end her suffering. God Bless You, your story and your Christian example. Regina Morgan

  7. Angela Assimenios Says:

    May 27th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Fantastic article! You bring up so many excellent points that I would’ve never thought of. I loved your first article, as well, The Role of the Caretaker.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Angela Assimenios

  8. Jennifer Orange Says:

    June 7th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Great article! I would also recommend asking to speak with the department’s social worker early-on in your hospital experience. Social workers can be such valuable sources of information and community supports. They can also help you communicate with your medical team when things get rough.
    Thanks again!

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