Nine Tips Learned During a Lengthy Hospital Stay

My recent "home" for six nights.

My recent “home” for six nights.

I began writing this from my hospital room last week and am finishing it from my home this week. I am a very healthy person who’s longest stay in a hospital prior to last week, was a same day surgery. But a couple of rounds of very high-powered “broad spectrum” antibiotic called Clindamycin prescribed for a dental infection left me dehydrated and battling  a severe intestinal infection called Clostridium difficile or C-Diff. I checked myself into the Franklin Woods Community Hospital E.R.  on Friday, March 22. There I was pumped full of two IVs of saline solution and admitted to the hospital for the next six nights.  Now, as a new veteran of a lengthy hospital stay, I’ve learned a few things along the way to share with you should you ever need them.

1- Be kind to your hospital staffers. They will become your greatest allies. They get you warm blankets, glasses of water and otherwise make your stay more comfortable. “Please” and “thank you” go a long ways.

2- If possible  have an advocate with you. I noticed when my husband was in the room things got expedited.

3- Take control of your health. Don’t rely on others- Be sure to research every possible cure for your illness and educate yourself on your illness. In my case I suggested probiotics and the physicians agreed with me and added them to my regimen.

4- Two heads are always better than one. Sure, you’ve heard that one before but it really applies to your medical personnel. On more than one occasion when nurses had a hard time finding my veins I suggested they call in another nurse and, inevitably, the team atmosphere worked. I also asked one of my physicians to confer with another doctor and that brought my beloved primary care physician to my bedside.

5- Pay attention! Pay close attention to the time your medications are distributed and to their look and color. Mistakes can be made. Be vigilant.

My left arm with what turned out to be the third IV site!

My left arm with what turned out to be the third IV site!

6- Wiggly IV’s spell trouble. If you’re on an IV do your best to keep from having it wiggle or move around. Mine did just that due to multiple trips to the rest room. The hours one night that nurses spent pricking my dehydrated veins looking for a new IV site is one I would rather forget!

7- Prepare a list of questions:  Be prepared when the doctor comes in on morning rounds and be ready with your questions. Be sure to write them down when you think of them. (I kept mine on my iPhone.)

8- No one knows your body like you do.  Ultimately each individual is different. I found out I could not tolerate sugar during this ordeal even though several medical personnel told me it shouldn’t be bothering me. Listening to your own body is the quickest path to healing.

9- Prayer works! Many, many people were praying for me, even people I don’t know. I thank them very much for their concern and I’m here to say prayer works.

P.S. On my way out the door to the hospital I grabbed: my iPhone, iPad  a magazine and a charger. I dressed in very comfortable, loose lounge wear and wore slip on shoes. Those were good choices. I always keep a toiletry bag packed and ready in my suitcase at all times so my husband only had to grab that and some minor items when he headed to the hospital to see me later.  I’d love to hear any tips you have to add to this list from your own personal experience.


  • Nicole Sikora Heschong says:

    Very good advice, especially the toiletry kit ready to go at a moment’s notice even when one doesn’t expect an emergency to arise. Thank you for sharing this! I am glad you are okay. Best wishes and prayers for a continued and speedy recovery!

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Nic. Who would have thought something used for fun trips would also come in handy for the hospital?

  • Sarah Rowan says:

    Mel, thanks for the tips! I love how you take less than desirable situations and turn them into life lessons. That is why you are truly first class!

  • Sarah Kinsler says:

    Great Tips Mel! I had a feeling you would write about your unexpected lengthy stay. Glad you have such a positive outlook on things. It’s inspiring!

  • Bill Painter says:

    Great tips. My longest stays in the hospital have been as the advocate and I can tell you that all of your points are “right on”. Being polite to the nurses if very helpful, they are very busy and if they don’t respond right away ,it doesn’t hurt to go to the station and ask nicely for what ever is needed at the moment. I have not had them turn me down if it is done without growling at them.

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