Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What I learned having a hospitalized child

I've been a mom for nearly 8.5 years, but I've never had a child in the hospital. After having one in the hospital for 5 days, I hardly consider myself a professional. Nonetheless, I feel that I learned some things during this time. I truly find my experiences make me a better friend and family member, and I love to compile Blog posts that allow me to refer to these in the future. I will also often send the links out when someone encounters something similar in the future.

I wanted to create a bit of a "guide" from a real mom with a real kid who was sick. I would love for others to contribute so if you have advice, please leave a comment, and I will try to add it to the page.

What I learned

  • Plans. Plans make us feel like we have control. But in actuality, our plans are never "firm." At any moment something bigger trumps the plans. I could have a cruise across the world planned. But if my child gets really sick, I'm going to cancel that trip. We truly don't have the control we think we do. Plans are always fluid. 
  • Support. In the midst of a crisis, "your people" not only want to help. They need to help. We need to feel, especially when distance keeps us from being there in person, that they are contributing. Allowing someone to play a part is important. When someone asks how they can help, truly think of a way that they can help and let them. 
  • Individuality. Every one is different in what they need. For example: Isaac really didn't want visitors. On the very last day, he said it was okay if Ms. Kim from church came by. But he is an introvert and very private. We think he was embarrassed by all the wires he had on him and that he also just felt that the visitors were a reminder of wanting to be home. He was okay when we brought one sibling, but more than that, overwhelmed him. I appreciate that people respected that. It's hard to tell people not to come by, but we came to understand that is what Isaac wanted/needed.
  • Other kids. I realized that a great concern while one child is sick is how the other kids are doing. You worry that your other kids are getting the shaft. Spending time with the other kids, bringing them gifts, or giving them a special date is wonderful!
  • Visitors. If people do come by, paying good attention to what is needed and making your visit fit that is great. For example, one of the elders from church came by. It was a little late at night so he said a few funny things to Isaac, prayed with him, and left. We didn't need a long visit. That short visit did more for us than a long one would have. But if your child was sleeping and you wanted company, a longer visit might be appropriate. 
  • Extras. I needed to do whatever it took to get through that time as "put together" as I could be. I called a babysitter two days. We technically could have figured out how to make it work, but I knew I needed that help. I broke my fast-food rule, and we ate McDonalds two days in a row. We had to get through it. 
  • Numero uno. Without a doubt, when I thought about what I needed, I felt like I needed another "me" at my house. If I could have someone at my house, doing my laundry, dishes, and taking out my dogs, it would have made me feel soooo good. I sort of had that with Grampa and Grama Kit. here but she was sick so they couldn't do as much as they might have otherwise. If you have a free day and can just go to someone's house and keep it "under control" this would be a huge gift. 
Gifts that were/would be helpful:
  • Gas cards: Man did we drive a LOT living 30 minutes from the hospital. Our monthly gas bill doubled this month.
  • Gift cards of any sort: My mind was trying not to contemplate the financial toll of this hospital stay, but it is hard not to do that. Little costs being removed truly makes people feel like things are a bit more "under control."
  • Gifts for the child: Isaac loved the gifts he received. I know this probably could get overwhelming if too many were sent, but he truly felt loved by these gestures. (I figured if it got excessive, we could just give some away to other kids as we were leaving.) 
  • Playing/visiting the children who are well: This was actually HIGH on my list. Knowing that my kids were getting extra fun attention from other people (because I couldn't give it) really meant something. I really struggled knowing my other kids were being negatively affected by JB and I having to be gone so much.
  • Meals: Always incredibly helpful. Remembering there are people who are at home who need to eat and people in the hospital that need to eat too is also helpful. Meals after a family is discharged could also help. I felt that it took me 2-3 days to dig out after we left the hospital.
  • Small things to use and dispose of at the hospital: In just five days, I felt like our "stuff" at the hospital was growing exponentially. Small things that we could use or play with and then toss (like crafts or a healthy treat, etc.) were really great.
So there you have it. Your turn! Please share what things you have learned so I can add it to this page.

Below I include a Facebook discussion of some other ideas that this post generated:

Tami Tibbs Northey Very well put together! I'd add that the power of prayer is amazing and always appreciated! So glad y'all are back together. One missing from a family dynamic throws everyone off.
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner Yes! For sure! Duh. Will add this. I think adding something about the email and notes and cards and how great that was would help too.
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner
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Christa DelSorbo Your post is great!! Part of the struggle with a hospital stay is the lack of control (both real and perceived). I've found for our (blessedly few) stays and those of my patients that keeping a journal helps. This can be a traditional "record your feelings" type journal if one is so inclined, but it can also be a great place to record numbers and stats, questions for the next doc/specialist visit, or for visitors who missed seeing the patient (sleeping, out for procedures,etc.) to jot a note or draw a picture. A small coloring book or puzzle book with good margins can serve this purpose as well as provide easy entertainment.
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner This is a GREAT idea. I had a great difficulty comprehending dates, etc.
Christa DelSorbo All of it begins to run together after the first day or so. Even for those familiar with medical mumbo-jumbo, it blurs after the initial adrenaline wears off!
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner
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Jo-Lyn Wilkerson Have you ever heard of a hospital survival kit? I hope you never need one but I have one always at the "half ready" just in case,Lucah gets sick a lot out of the blue. Mine has chapstick, deodorant, small shampoo and conditioner, two magazines, 2 puzzle books, gum or hard candy, spare phone charger, coloring book with small package of crayons, small toy or two for the sick child (to help with distractions for things like IV placement or injections) and then if your ER visit is upgraded to a full stay then you add snacks because hospital food is just blech! That and sometimes it's easy to forget to eat for mom and dad and kid if he just is having a rotten time. I also have a small diaper bag with some changes of clothes that are easy to slip into if you c ant leave the hospital. Someone can just grab it for you and drop it off with no worries of what to get for you including toiletries because you already had them in the survival kit. It is something that has saved our sanity several times.
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner Brilliant. I think making these for someone would also be great.
Becky Shelton · 9 mutual friends
These are also great if you have a sickly parent or grandparent. Got used to having a "go bag" when my Granny and Stepdad were nearing the end of their lives. Add a thin jacket, maybe a light throw blanket/travel pillow too. Sounds silly but even a roll of quarters for vending machine if necessary.
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner
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Megan Battista I remember one of the best things someone did when we were in the hospital with Mia is not only bring something for us, but something small for the nurses. I found it completely impossible to express my appreciation for them.
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner
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Tessa Williams Yawn Make sure to take your vitamins and stay hydrated. We both ended up sick while Carson was in the hospital and because it was the NICU we were not allowed back until we were better.
Brianna Gendron Brittiany Gendron and Melody Gendron I thought this was a really cool list Wendi made, I don't know if you've ever had to do anything like this but feel free to add ideas!
Marlise Sundy I took lotion (lots of hand washing), my own refillable water bottle, socks, a blanket for yourself, a friend gave a Child appropriate personality pillow case, and gum.just things that helped us. 
My friend's daughter was in the hospital for a longer time. I took snacks, fruit, crackers and chocolate because it always helps. I made a few different trips of quick here is the things on her list.
Marlise Sundy I just remembered... I made her room darkening curtains for the hall window
Wendi Huisman Kitsteiner
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Diane Huisman I love these ideas! I like to take of the caregivers but never sure how. These are great!

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