A few months ago, I was hospitalized.
Yeah, I know. Thanks. Thank you. ‘Ppreciate it.
It was in LA, on the other coast of my hometown. Holler, LA. I still love you. And I made it out alive.
But that fight is a little harder for those of us with a disability. And I learned a few tricks in there. Here are my top 5 things everybody with a disability MUST do and remember when you land where we all battle to stay away from.
- Tell the doctors immediately about your condition, and give them a reference to a specialist
Duh. But it’s not as obvious as it seems. We’re usually pretty conditioned to going through with things as anyone else would; this is normal to us. But when you’re lying flat in the ER with buckets of undisclosed liquids being carted to and fro and things poking and squeezing you, you might forget to mention that that really highly contagious patient in the bed next to you might just end up causing you another week in the hospital because your body doesn’t fight off diseases as well as everyone else’s does. Pray for the brother – but if you can’t be near him, say so.
- Remind the nurses that you’re not bedbound in real life
How quickly caregivers forget that just because you have a wheelchair doesn’t mean you need to be in bed all the time in the hospital. My hospital had me laying flat for over 48 hours and I suffered mentally. Think about it: once an ordinary patient moves out of the ER, you still, most times, can get up to go to the bathroom…walk down the hall…etc. My nurses seemed to have forgotten that, and by the time I had psychologically endured to the point of misty eyes, I had to wait for the “supervisor” to permit me getting into my OWN wheelchair to simply be upright. Don’t wait as long as I did. Get back in that chair as soon as possible.
- Do not rely on the nurse call button
Half the time they don’t work. If you need extra attention, especially at night, let them know unyieldingly.
- Question Everything
I mean it, guys. This one’s important. Question everything. Is this necessary? Why are we doing this? Are there other options? How will this help? What are our next steps? Am I on schedule for discharge? Can I speak to my doctor? Be infuriatingly on the ball.
- Be strong
If you’re here, and you’re taking action to assure your care is appropriate, nothing worse can happen to your health. You’re safe. It’s scary. It’s painful sometimes. But it’s all in your head, and the good news is, you CAN control that. The unhappiest I have ever been in life was when I felt I was marooned and stuck, like in the hospital, desperate for the real, moving world and for my life to move forward. Therefore, if you must be there, make your mental stay in the hospital a time of intellectual exercise and change; plan your life. Write in your journal. Reconnect with friends. Let yourself realize how much you are loved.
You are. And you don’t need a hospital to prove it.