10 Ways to Empower Yourself During a Stay in Hospital
10 Ways to Empower Yourself During a Stay in Hospital
By Amani Omejer / huffingtonpost.co.uk

I have just come out of my third stay in hospital this summer. It’s sucked, but there have been many things I’ve picked up along the way that helped empower me during my hospital stays and made them suck a little less.

1. Get friends to bring you food

Hospital food feels far from fresh or nutritious. Ask friends to bring snacks/fruit/etc, and (if you can) full meals from time to time. You usually have access to a patient fridge that you can store things in, if needed.

If you can’t eat, request nutrition drinks (get chocolate flavour - the rest are gross!). It’s so important to keep your strength up, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

2. Do your research 

Talk to friends/friends of friends/trusted health professionals, about what’s going on. Get a friend to help you research (stick to scientific papers/research based articles if using Google!), if reading is difficult or you feel overwhelmed by all the information, which often I found I was. 

It’s so empowering when you are able to meet the doctor in discussion, rather than feeling lost or helpless.

3. Get a friend or advocate to sit with you during doctor rounds

I could write a whole article just on the power imbalance that often happens within hospitals. I dreaded the doctors round every morning in hospital. Some doctors were amazing, but sadly I felt patronised and unheard by a lot of them. 

It can feel so intimidating having up to 5 or 6 doctors round your bed with just you to fight your corner. So, get a friend to be there with you, and/or ask some of the extra doctors to step out if you need to - explain you feel more comfortable with just one or two there.

Often doctors rounds happen outside of visiting hours, so ask for an approximate time they will visit and plan for a friend to be there. In some hospitals (particularly psychiatric hospitals), there is also an advocacy service. If they don’t have this and a friend can’t be there, ask for a nurse to be there during the rounds, instead. 

Just the presence of someone there for me, helps me feel stronger in my rights and opinions, and improves my ability to voice my needs.

4. Make notes of what the doctors say 

Keep a record of each daily visit and what results they’ve told you, or tests/services doctors say they’ll do. Get proof of referrals/follow-up appointments they said they’ve made. I was told both referrals and follow-up appointment had been made, but upon discharge from the hospital I discovered they had either been done incorrectly or not at all. 

I also generally had a different doctor every day, and they would often say something different to the doctor the previous day. Often suggested tests wouldn’t get done, or results would get confused. Chase things up if they haven’t done what they said they’d do, and don’t be afraid to correct them if they get something wrong.

5. Call the patient complaints line if you need to

In June, whilst in hospital, I needed a catheter for the first time, because I suddenly couldn’t pee on my own. On the day of discharge the doctors realised I hadn’t seen a urologist during my stay. This was a mistake - the doctors acknowledged that thought they had done it. I requested to see one before I was discharged, but they told me to wait 6 weeks for an outpatient appointment instead - despite the urologist being literally round the corner in the hospital. So, I phoned up PALS (Patients Advocacy and Liaisons Service), and explained my situation. Within half an hour, a urologist came to see me. 

6. Ask for help from friends/family

Tell people what’s happening: people want to help. Hospital was rubbish, but the love and help that came from my friends was amazing. People really showed up, and they couldn’t have done that if I hadn’t communicated what was happening. 

If the idea of asking for help makes you squirm, get a friend to set up a WhatsApp/Facebook message group and to pass on messages of what you need, for you.

7. Count the blessings

I usually hate sentences like that, or the suggestion of gratitude practices when things really suck, but during my first stay in hospital I found myself feeling incredibly grateful and aware of the fact I was receiving all this health care for free. Never did I have to work out whether I could afford it. It helped me have perspective whilst feeling frustrated with the power imbalance/patronisation from doctors. 

8. Sleep!

Sleep as much as you can, and get decent earplugs. Hospital is so noisy, and this generally doesn’t dampen down much at night time. Plus, you are always woken up so freakin’ early...

I made up for any sleep I missed at night, by sleeping during the day. We also need to sleep more when we are healing. 

9. Take in entertainment and distraction 

Bring your own (or borrow a friends) iPod, laptop, phone, magazines, books, colouring books, drawing materials...

Music/films/audiobooks can be healing balms within noisy wards.

10. Get all your test and scan results printed out in detail when you leave

Take them to other health professionals you see, or look at them yourself because they can be a good insight into what is happening in your body and what needs to be looked at in more detail. Often the NHS’ ‘normal’ ranges in blood tests are so wide that your results can still be high or low, they just fit within the ‘normal’ range so it doesn’t get flagged up.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 8,720 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
The Problem with Hating Our Enemies
Charles Eisenstein · 8,548 views today · He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if thou gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into thee. —Nietzsche
Van Jones: Only a 'Love Army' Will Conquer Trump
Tim Dickinson · 8,244 views today · Though it's important to fight Trump's policies, "it's at the values level that we need to do a reset," says Jones
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 7,271 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
How to Expose Trump's Dastardly Bait-And-Switch
Robert Borosage · 6,476 views today · Trump is not an economic populist, he’s just playing one on TV.
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 5,085 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 5,061 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 3,918 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
This Polish Ad Will Give You The Feels, For Reals
3 min · 3,283 views today · This is an ad for Allegro, a Polish company similar to eBay, and it's heartwarmingly lovely.
Why You Should Stop Apologizing for Doing All That You Can
Kelly Hayes · 3,060 views today · I’ve noticed lately that a lot of allies and accomplices I talk to about NoDAPL and other struggles will name what they are trying to contribute to the cause, and then promptly...
David Graeber: We Need a Revolution in the Way We Think about "Work"
4 min · 2,961 views today · David Graeber on the Value of Work. Does the world really need neuroadvertisers, PR researchers and branding consultants? Renowned academic and coiner of the ‘we are the 99%’...
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 2,002 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
A New History for Humanity - the Human Era
8 min · 1,960 views today · It is time to reframe how we think about our past. We need a new year 0 for humanity. But which one should we choose and why?
Black on Black Crime Isn't a Myth
Donyae Coles · 1,622 views today · Let’s talk about Black on Black crime. Maybe you’ve heard about it on the news, specifically likely in regards to Black people murdered by other Black people. Perhaps you’ve...
15 Easy Things You Can Do to Help When You Feel Like Shit
Maritsa Patrinos · 1,521 views today · You don’t have to tackle it all at once.
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,342 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 1,334 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,257 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
It's The Damn Police
Walter Fields · 1,253 views today · From an early age Blacks are socialized to live defensively and to absorb the mental body blows that come from the day-to-day indignities that are hoisted upon us by the very...
Swanage Protectors Camp - Campaigning to Stop New Oil and Gas Exploration in Dorset, UK
7 min · 1,096 views today · The planning permission for an exploratory oil rig near Swanage ran out on 3rd December 2016. A good day all round for those campaigning against the fossil fuel industry. Hear...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
10 Ways to Empower Yourself During a Stay in Hospital