Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hospital Tales #6- The Armchair

   As I mentioned a few days ago (in Tales #2),the first few days of Ricki's recent hospitalization, we were in the "mini ICU" of the medical ward, a large room with one nurse basically always there. We've been there before during previous hospitalizations, and there is an advantage, as this room has decent fold-down –to-a-bed-chairs for one family member per patient. The disadvantage is that often this room is noisier at night, as many of the patients there really need round-the-clock care.   However, on Wednesday we were transferred to a regular room. There are in these rooms mostly regular armchairs, and occasionally a fold-down type. Rarely even an armchair is not to be had. (One night I saw the wife of one of the patients sleeping on a blanket on the floor.)
   But as luck would have it, we have a relative who works part time at the hospital, and she was working Wednesday night. So she graciously offered to scrounge up a spare fold-to-a-bed-chair from HER ward for the evening. I was grateful, but since she was not working the next evening I was loathe to take responsibility for the bed for the entire weekend, worried that someone would swipe it from me, and I would end up having to recompense her for it. I figured that when reading Friday nights I often fall asleep in the living room armchair (which DOESN'T fold down to a bed), so how bad could it be to sleep in one at the hospital?
   [An aside: Often family members switch off (one at day, one at night, or different people each night), so one night with less-than-optional sleep is not too bad.This is I feel, the recommended way to do things/  But as someone who was there basically 24/7 (I was gone about 4 hours every two days to dash home and change clothing, etc.), my situation was different, especially as Ricki was quite difficult to deal with in the hospital. The staff knew this, and should have, I feel, given me a priority on decent sleeping arrangements.
    However, as Thursday evening came around, the ward was pretty full, and there were not even NON-folding armchairs to be had… only kitchen-type chairs. Finally at 1:00 AM after tossing and turning for two hours, I went out to the nurse's station, and told the nurse "Sorry, but without a minimum of 4 hours of sleep, I can't deal with Ricki tomorrow. I took her recently to the bathroom, she's sleeping. And I am going home. I will be back at 6 AM…." I exited quickly, took a taxi home, and one back in the morning.
   On my return I discovered to my chagrin, that Ricki had awakened, and had badgered the nurses all night about my whereabouts. My regret is that this disturbed the family member of the patient next to me.
   However, within 5 minutes of my return there was an armchair in my room.

Note: If a hospital can hire fewer nurse's aides because family members help with bathing, toileting, and feeding their family member, they should have a fold-down chairs for their family member who stays there. ESPECIALLY if it is a case where one person is the constant assistant (as I was).


Risa Tzohar said...

It is absolutely in the hospital's interest to provide appropriate sleeping arrangements if they expect you to take care of your child. I have slept in various hospital with children and standing up for your rights (in a dignified but firm manner) makes the most sense. Schneider had the nicest arrangement with one of those armchairs that fold down on the floor next to every bed. But many years ago I used a lawn chair when my baby was hospitalized and they let me keep it by her bed. I did once sleep on the floor with a blanket, but I will never do that again.

Rickismom said...

Risa, the difference is that Schneider's is a children's hospital, and Ricki at age almost-18 is in an "adult" hospital

Risa Tzohar said...

Adults often (in my opinion always) need to have someone with them in hospital just as much as kids.
DH once had a dislocated shoulder which had to be re?located under anesthesia. When it was over, I left him to recover alone. 3 hours later he called me (he did have a cell phone with him) could I come and bring him something to eat and find the staff, he was offside in some corridor where they had forgotten him.
Patients need an 'advocate' at their side 24/7.

Rickismom said...

Risa, I definitively agree with you. (Except that often adult patients who are ambulatory can be left alone. But the hospitals seem to accept the reality of family presence only for children.

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