Friday, March 21, 2014

Life on the Burn Ward

I started to write more about our hospital stay. Then I thought it might actually be kind of boring to read about. But maybe finishing it would provide some closure. So here goes...

Staying in the hospital with David was my first time ever (except for maternity)! As I mentioned in my other post, it was one of my worst fears and I knew it would probably happen sometime. I guess you could say it was about as I expected, but I will try to describe it a little bit.

I don't know why it struck me as funny that there was a "daily regimen" (schedule) posted near the nurses' station. I guess it brought me back to my school days, or summer camp maybe...? The only thing missing was a late bell. :) And I wondered how there could be a strict schedule when one is sick? Shouldn't the patients be getting attention as needed (again, I've never been hospitalized), and not on a schedule?

Then as I thought about it more, I realized that a lot of the patients are so young that they do have a pretty structured schedule, and you have to fit the medical procedures into their wake/free time. Plus it's harder to die of boredom when there is a schedule.

Cookie in hand...

So here is how the day went:

7-7:30 a.m. The nurse would do rounds, wake me up (I think I screamed one time) and ask if I had checked David's temperature yet, to which I always answered "no," because we were both obviously still sleeping. Then she would hand me the glass thermometer and I would have to stick it under his armpit and secure his non-injured arm, making him kick and scream, until finally I just fudged the numbers, as long as he didn't feel feverish. Sometimes the nurse would come back to check the numbers, sometimes not.

7:30-8:30 a.m. Unsuccessful attempts to get more sleep.

9:00-10:00 (usually closer to 10) The breakfast cart would come around. We were the last room on the delivery route.

Meals were pretty much what I remembered from Russian summer camp. Breakfast consisted of porridge and a piece of bread with cheese/butter. I'm not going to be too critical because U.S. hospital food is pretty bad. The Russian hospital cuisine seems more nutritious in that the rations/menu are all pretty regulated and planned out. I saw a chart that included extra protein for nursing moms or milk for babies of a certain age, or whatever. In general the food is pretty bland and boiled to death and somewhat economical/sub-par with very few fruits/vegetables and little meat or protein. With better quality ingredients, I like Russian food...I loved camp food the last few years I went. Maybe the financial situation had gotten better.

10:00-10:30 Hiding in our room so they wouldn't call us for rebandaging before Andrei got there. Lots of moms and babies doing laps up and down the long hallway.

10:30-12:30 Waiting for David's turn to have his dressings changed. The procedures rooms were mingled in with the rooms where patients stayed. I can't think how they would do it in the U.S. Would there even be a separate room for dressings? During this time we would walk up and down the hallway, talk to the other moms and compared notes, and I would eat my cold breakfast.

When they called us, we would sit outside the procedures room listening to other kids scream while we waited for our turn.

12:30-2:00 p.m. Trying to keep David awake long enough to at least have his shot of antibiotics (in the rear end). The cleaning lady would usually come by and we wouldn't bother vacating the room. We would just put David in the crib and sit on the bed.

1:00-2:00 p.m. (usually closer to 2) Waiting for the lunch cart to come along. Again David would be nearly asleep if not asleep already. I would stand just outside our door with my plate and bowl in hand, waiting for my grub. They gave us each a set of dishes that we were supposed to wash out between meals and use again. I used mine for a week that way. They didn't give us any dish soap but Andrei's parents brought some for me. Russian hospitals are an interesting mix of nursing care and do it yourself. As I mentioned, the cleaning lady would come daily to mop out our room...that was required according to the sanitation laws. But we were supposed to all walk down the hall to scrap our plates ourselves and then wash the dishes.

For lunch there was always soup and then there were two different main dishes; one children's version and one adult. Generally mashed potatoes or macaroni with some sort of ground meat.

2:00-4:00 p.m. was "Quiet Time." In general all patients and caregivers were supposed to be in their rooms. It seemed like a good idea, except that also on the schedule at this time was clean-up of the common areas. I guess they took advantage of us being out of the way! Our room was private and at the end, but across from the sanitation room, so we got to hear lots of buckets being filled up and then poured back out as the corridor and common areas were mopped. David was usually able to sleep through it, though.

4:00 p.m. Visitors allowed. Nina and Vladimir would usually arrive at this point, bringing all sorts of parcels. They smuggled in a lot of home-cooked food for me, yum. Plus little luxuries like tea bags and sugar, a butter knife, etc.

5:00 p.m. The snack cart would come around, usually with some sort of omelette or cottage cheese (farmer's cheese) square to provide a little protein blast.

6:00 p.m. Dinnertime. Again there were two versions, and similar offerings as at lunchtime, but without the soup. Also in the rotation were dishes like boiled white fish or liver loaf. I actually don't mind the fish as long as there aren't too many bones. Sometimes simple foods can be really comforting.

7 and on: Nina and Vladimir would get ready to go. The cloakroom closed around 8 (or was it 7:30? There was a discussion about it each day), so there was risk of them being stuck without their coats. Russian hospitals are really strict about taking outer layers/shoes off. No outside dirt allowed!

8:00 p.m. Andrei's turn to get ready to go. He had his coat hidden in a bag and would go out the back way (along with other dads).

9:00 p.m. Lights out and final diaper weighing/chart completion. Yep, I had to keep a chart of all of David's input/output and write down the specific volume each time. Along with taking his temperature. After the accident he didn't want to drink anything out of a cup for awhile, but it got better after a few days. I told the nurses that he was getting breastmilk too, but they kept shaking their heads that we were still nursing at 18 months, and one nurse expressed doubt that I actually still had a milk supply. The worst was after the first time he was in the procedural room and got all bandaged up, and had a fever. They told me not to breastfeed him until the fever was down. I got over it, though.

11:00 p.m. Finally getting quiet on the ward. People would often come down to our end of the corridor to make phone calls and such, supposedly out of earshot, but not for us! Sometimes I would read in the bathroom or play games on my phone after David fell asleep. Sometimes I fell asleep quickly.

I guess I did a lot of complaining in this post, but I think we had a pretty average hospital stay: lots of missing what was familiar, but in general the conditions were good. Getting a private room really did make a difference as I think I would have been stressed out trying to recover from the shock and do all my parenting in front of several roommates. The staff was generally kind and competent even though the bedside manner wasn't my favorite. We're thankful that David received the care he needed.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, sounds pretty horrible to be honest! But glad David got the care he needed!!

    -Christina

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  2. Funny - to me it sounds wonderful! I admire the fact that they feel the babies need their Mamas! Some US hospitals do all they can to separate children from their parents (I think the is beginning to change, but not fast enough for me.)

    I also admire the economy of having you all wash your own dishes! (Though providing soap seems reasonable!) I have friends from Nigeria and there, the family does ALL the provision of basic care - that includes providing food and bedding. All the hospital provides is the medical care.

    These cultural differences fascinate me - and I was THRILLED to get a detailed description of your experience; it wasn't boring to me at all!

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    1. In Russia whether or not a parent or spouse can be present sometimes depends on how much you pay. I'm not sure if there was an age cut-off for having a parent stay on the ward. Andrei stayed in the hospital alone when he was a child.

      I guess there's nothing inherently wrong with having families doing the caregiving, though all the food/linens brought from home seem to sort of cancel out the other efforts to maintain hygiene. But that can happen in the U.S., too.

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  3. Nothing fun about a hospital stay indeed - we had 4 different family members in hospitals this winter and none of it was fun. So glad it has all turned out ok for you and David!

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    Replies
    1. I know, I think about your family and the magnets all the time! We have some smaller magnets way up high on a shelf and sure hope David doesn't ever get into them.

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