An engaged patient needs and engaged caregiver
It was never more clear than when I was in the hospital, that I needed my husband, and I needed him to be just as engaged in my care as I was (or perhaps even more so). There were several times when things where not quite right, but I was not in any shape to explain what was wrong – I was too drugged up to provide a true picture of how I was feeling or what my concerns were. That was when my husband stepped in and explained things. He listened intently when the doctors were giving instructions, and often had found himself clarifying things to the nurses (note that I had some pretty awesome nurses – but they were not there when the doctor explained how to do dress a wound – my husband was) – he was the one person who ensured that I had continuity in my care.
Coming home from the hospital posed its own challenges. We were unable to get an electric recliner, but had several wedge pillows. With the help of the physiotherapist I was able to get into and out of bed on my own (however, I wasn’t able to stack the necessary pillows under my knees and feet – to reduce ankle swelling I need to sleep with my feet elevated – so every time I get out of bed in the night I need help getting set back up so that I can sleep. I was also very lucky that our patio chair recliners happened to be just the right height and have just the right resistance, such that I had a comfortable place to sit when I wasn’t sleeping.
Being at home also meant that my husband has to play the role of nurse. I have several incisions that require dressing changes once or twice per day. Because we both like efficient processes, we have figured out efficient ways to manage these changes – the first being that my hubby strips and empties drains first thing in the morning, then removes all dressings so that I can shower. Then after my shower and I’m all dried off, pictures are taken, then all wounds are dressed for the day. The process takes over an hour, but seems to be the most efficient time for changing dressing as I’m already undressed and clean.
Then there are all the pills. I don’t have the mental capacity (especially with the pain meds) to figure out when to take which pills. I was sent home with 17 different prescriptions (plus I had a couple of extra thrown in for good measure). Managing this has been no small task (we reduced a few when we saw the doctors on Monday and hope a few more go away next week too).
So, I must emphasize that there is no way I could be an engaged patient without the help of my husband – who is a very engaged care giver.