Spending Time at the Hospital

My husband was diagnosed with cancer today. He is 39 years old. We have a long road ahead of us with many hours to be spent in hospitals. We have never walked this road before and would like some input on how to make this experience workable for us. We don't have a lot of money and eating the food at the hospital will be okay for my husband but I know our budget and realize that I will not have enough money to eat at the hospital on a daily basis. Any suggestion would be appreciated, also, how do you go about keeping the food from spoiling because we will not have access to a place to store the food?

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Little Foot from Petersburg, VA

January 1, 20060 found this helpful

I'm so sorry that you will be enduring the hospital experience. My experience is not with cancer but with DHs heart defects.

I have found slightly different strategies for inpatient days vs. outpatient days. First of all, get a good rolling backpack to tote your stuff. For a long time I used a non-rolling tote 'and when I gave in and bought one with wheels it make life SO much easier! And leave your purse at home. I just take the bare essentials and keep the a pocket in the backpack. Just wallet, keys, changepurse and chapstick.

Scout around for magazines to take with you - ask friends for their discards. Then leave them in waiting rooms when you're finished with them (then you don't have to take them home with you). Pack food in an insulated lunchbox with a reusable ice pack. Keep lotion handy for both of you - hospital air tends to be very drying. Try to keep your tote bag light - easy on the hardcover books. I usually bring a needlework project that I keep organized with zip-lock bags. If you have anything else that you like to pass the time (crossword puzzle books, journaling, etc) bring that along. Don't forget a small notebook to keep track of Dr's orders and other info. I did a lot of Googling for more info after I got home at night and having things written down helped me to remember what I wanted to look up.

When your DH is an inpatient bring a set of headphones for the tv if applicable (if they have the little personal tvs on a swing arm). It has saved DH's sanity on many occasions when he had a roommate who kept his tv loud. Also, an inexpensive cd player that won't be missed if it is broken or stolen is a handy thing. I make copies of cds instead of taking in the originals. Books on cd are a good thing for when he is feeling too weak to hold a book.

Keep pocket change handy for those vending machine trips when you just HAVE to have some chocolate.

I have a 100 mile drive and tolls to deal with. I try to keep toll money handy and keep my cell phone charged (if you don't have a cell phone be sure to get some calling cards). I have a headset for my phone so I can update all of the relatives and friends on my drive home (open freeway) so that once I get home I can take care of myself and get plenty of rest (it's really important to take care of yourself so that you're at your best for DH). If your drive is short take the time to decompress with some music or a radio program you enjoy. For awhile I made sure that I left the hopspital by a certain time so that I could listen to a certain program on my drive home.

Say "yes" to any and all offers for help! Having company to sit with you during long procedures is vital! It's so easy to get lost in your own head during those times.

I hope you find some of this helpful. If I think of anything else I'll post again.

Lily

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

Hi. I'm sorry you are going through this. You are in my prayers.

I know many hospitals will give the family member 1 meal a day, so they can share the meal with their loved one. Especially the situation you will be in...traveling so far from home.

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

I am so sorry about your difficulty. Please ask to speak with the Hospital CaseManager/Social Worker attached to your husband's case. She can arrange meal vouchers for you as well as a place to stay for free if you need to be there over night. I wish you the very, very, best.

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

My granddaughter has a birth defect and has had and will have to undergo surgery. The floor she was on had a frig for the patients and their families to use and check with the nurse's station to see if they have vouchers for free food for you while your husband is in the hospital. My daughter was given them while my granddaughter was in the hospital. She got one per day for one meal in the hospital cafeteria. Hope that helps and my thoughts and prayers to you and your husband

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

I recently spent time in the hospital with my 84 year old mom. The nurse told me about a room beside the nurses station that had soft drinks, microwaveable oat meal, juice, jello, coffee, ice,etc. and a refrigerator and microwave for the patients and those staying with them. I also took a small 6 pack cooler with me to keep in the room. Take lots of reading material and stationery with you so you can write letters and notes while you sit.

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

i am sure the unit/floor has a fridge for family members to use. if not you could take a cooler with food in it and get ice there at the hospital. i have had to be in the hosp myself or with family and that is what we did.

take along small games or puzzle books to pass the time. uno or cards, candy etc to give out at will is always apprecitaed by the staff.

praying for you and your husband.

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

first let me say I am sorry for what you are going through. After reading all the other very informative replies I only have one thing to add. If vouchers are not available please ask the nurse if you could have a leftover try at meal time. most hospitals plan ahead for the number of patients needing trys,thus if someone goes home that tray will still be on the cart ,but has to be returned if their is no patient for it. I belong to 2 caregiver groups on yahoo and they have been wonderful as aa support for me in caring for my husband who had many health issues. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. JAN in NC

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January 1, 20060 found this helpful

If the nurses tell you they don't have the leftover trays, tell them you mean the ones they keep and eat from themselves. hahaha

That one worked for me.

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January 2, 20060 found this helpful

I suggest you use the rolling small suitcase ideal, and make an area in it for your food, enclosed with a couple of ice packs. We reuse and rotate our ice packs (the blue kind,that are about an inch and half thick, they last), so we could keep food, sandwiches, and vegetables and fruit. There are many times I just wanted snacks, not a full meal. Long days seem to need snacks. There will be times we wanted a hot meal. I made a small divided plate, and borrowed the microwave in the snack room.

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January 2, 20060 found this helpful

I don't have any suggestions other than the great ones already posted. Just wanted to let you know that you and your husband will be in our prayers. Be sure to take care of yourself. Your husband has hospital staff (and you) taking care of him...taking care of yourself isn't selfish, but necessary so you can be there for your husband.

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January 2, 20060 found this helpful

Hospitals have inexpensive and nutritious meals. An experienced traveler once told me that he stopped at hospitals to eat rather than restaurants for this reason. I think you should try them. You may be surprised. Its important for you to take care of yourself during this trying time.

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January 2, 20060 found this helpful

I will keep you in my prayers, though i don't have any suggestions.

Mary

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January 3, 20060 found this helpful

I agree that a 6-pack size cooler is ideal, even if you are permitted to use the nurse's fridge (which they probably WILL let you do). The cooler can hold drinks, fruit, a candy bar -- even a cool damp washcloth in a ziploc bag, if that feels good on hubby's forehead. Look for items you would typically pack in kids lunchboxes -- individual puddings, applesauce, etc. If you like yogurt, that's another very portable, nutritious item you can easily pack.

Hand lotion and a chapstick, as well as real kleenex (not the scratchy ones the hospital usually provides) will provide some comfort. Hard candies are also good to soothe dry throats, typical from hospital air.

LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH -- friends, co-workers, church groups -- and if somebody asks what they can do, TELL THEM! Phone cards would be very handy, gas cards, visitors, etc. Maybe you can set up a "phone tree", so you only have to call a handful of people, and then each of them is responsible for calling another few people -- use as many "layers" as needed to keep everybody updated.

I would also suggest you check with your local chapter of the American Cancer Society -- they probably have literature, programs, etc that would be helpful.

You and your husband are in my thoughts and prayers.

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January 3, 20060 found this helpful

Know some of what you are going through, may you find strength in the support of friends and acquaintances. My idea was that you could keep food hot in a Thermos Hot Bottle or small cooler. Keep foods that will give you high energy as when you are worried and not feeling so well you need all the energy possible. Keep a small treat or two such as your favorite tea or cookies for a "comfort" food.

Best to you, Canada

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January 5, 20060 found this helpful

I read your mesage and my heart goes out to you. I, as well as other ladies in my church group in the Petersburg area would like to help you. The advice that has been given you so far is great. I am not sure which hospital you are using but I do know in the Petersburg hospital there are microwaves in the cafeteria that can be used by guests. If you will let us know how we can support you we will.

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January 5, 20060 found this helpful

Thank you for your words of encouragement and prayers. Thank you for your advice. This is the hardest road that I have ever walked. Today was such a hard day and we spent the whole day in the hospital. The cooler on wheels worked great. I don't know which hospital we will end up in because the doctors keep sending us to different hospitals. For those of you who have done this before...what is a great way to reassure the children?

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January 7, 20060 found this helpful

You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. So sorry you're having to go thru this. I, myself, am a 2 yr. cancer survivor, technology has come a long way. It seems everyone's given you some excellent ideas. Never forget the power of prayer!

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January 10, 20060 found this helpful

My prayers are with you. I do know what you are going thought. I went through it with my husband. What we did is just too make sure the appointments was in the afternoon or eat something just before you leave the house, or put some health snacks in your purse. I do know there is some times you do have too be there all day, so just bring along a small cooler. Take Crea & God Bless You Always

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January 17, 20060 found this helpful

Bless your heart! I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. I don't have any words of wisdom but wanted to express my concern. I know your husband will be in good hands but please don't neglect your needs. Hang tough and take care of you. My thoughts are with you.

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January 18, 20060 found this helpful

I'm so sorry. The ideas are wonderful, especially the rolling suitcase. Be sure and let folks help you. If you will be walking to your car after dark, ask for hospital security to accompany you. They should be glad to. If you knit or crochet make little things. Hats and scarves are easy and portable and so needed by many. We will keep you in our prayers.

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January 8, 20070 found this helpful

As said, reach out to friends/family and even people at the hospital. I believe there is a true, loving God..if you believe, reach out to him first every moment of every day. Now for food: mix dryroasted peanuts/raisins, sunflower seeds etc (protein) juices/fruit, string cheese, granola cereals (can eat dry) peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, carnation instant breakfast, refried beans/corn chips/salsa, raw broccoli-carrots/ranch dressing.

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