How to not be a total shit while in hospital
A reader emailed me asking how she could handle her current stay in hospital, as her roommate and their visitors are being arseholes.
As a carrier of the frequent flyer hospital visitors card, due to the amount of cancer in my family, I understand the social norms required as both a visitor and a patient in a hospital I have also seen how many ignorant dingbats there are in the bed and by the beds.
So here are my tips for being a good patient:
- Turn your frigging phone down! Seriously. Your phone ringtone of motorbikes revving, or Eminem's Slim Shady isn't healing to anyoneespecially after the 12th call for the day.
- Stop talking so loudly on the phone. If you are able, take the call in the lounge. Or talk using your inside, hospital voice. We don't need to hear you talking about your Metamucil intake and what you ordered on the menu sheet for the next week.
- Don't bring a rice cooker into the hospital and if you do, don't use it. (This actually happened to me when I had my first child.)
- Limit your visitors, because you need to heal and you think about the other people in your room. It's not a party. It's a hospital.
- Be nice to the staff. Just because you feel like shit doesn't mean you get to act like one.
- Don't blame the staff for your illness. They are there to help you. They are not the reason you are sick.
- Do what the staff tell you. Seriously. Don't be a dickhead and assume you know better. If they tell you to drink more water, do it. You're not a doctor, and if you are, you should know better. So drink the water, or eat the ice cream or take the tablets. Don't be a contrary pain in the bum. They will talk about you in the handover and you will get the agency nurse 'cos no one likes you.
- Be a good patient. If you're a good person and a good patient, the staff will push the boat out a little further for you, not because they have to but because they want to. My brother always shared chocolates with the team that looked after him, chatted about the doctors and nurses lives and took an interest, because he was sick of thinking about himself. They, in turn, made allowances for him when he was there for four months because he was a good egg. Quid pro quo!
- Buy the staff a good present when you leave. When my mum was in the hospital recently for a huge surgery, I bought the staff a huge basket and filled it with chocolates, sweets, lollies and pens! Red, black and blue ones, as there never seemed to be a pen on the ward and the nurses guarded them with their life. Let's just say the present went down well, with staff shoving Twix and packets of Jaffa's into the pockets of their scrubs and pens hanging off their lanyards, their mouths filled with Fantales.
And now for the visitors:
- Don't use the bathroom for the patients. Firstly because it's not hygienic and some patients have very low immune systems and secondly because it's lazy. Walk your bum to the toilet in the hallway and use that one.
- Call beforehand and see if it's a good time to visit. God knows what's going on for the patient. Maybe that Metamucil has just kicked in and they're stuck in the toilet you're not supposed to use.
- Don't take the spare visitors chair meant for the other person without asking. Again, manners!
- Don't get huffy if you have to leave the room because the other person needs a procedure. I once witnessed a man yelling at MET team who were working on resuscitating a patient in his wife's shared room, because he wanted to get his wife's handbag for her for a vanilla slice. WTF? Wait a goddammed minute mate!
- Don't bring flowers. They have germs and shit and the nurses are going to tell you to take them home.
- Don't spend hours in the room unless it's dire and unless you are super-duper close to the person who is in hospital. It's just annoying. Go the fuck home.
- Don't be rude to the staff. Manners are free and if you need something for your person in the hospital bed, then ask nicely. You get more bees with honey people.
- Don't be nosy about the other people's illness or reason for being in the room. They have NUNYA - Nunya business!
- Do go and get the spoon, ice chips, or coffee for your person because the nurses will be super busy and its good to be useful. And if you're so inclined, ask the roomie if they need anything also. You don't know if they have had any visitors yet. Shout them a coffee or a copy of the newspaper.
And that's it. Katie's guide to being a good patient and visitor.
Feel free to add in anymore if you think of them, and then share this with anyone who is about to go into hospital, because it's so bloody important to be a good patient and visitor. Think of the people around you and have some self-awareness!