For a parent who has a child in the hospital, daily activities like taking a shower or washing clothes often take a backseat to various medical tests and hospital schedules. In times like these, it can be very difficult to figure out how to make these activities possible.
When your child is in the hospital, keeping him on a semi-normal schedule can prove to be very difficult. Working with the nursing supervisor on your floor and the child life specialist can help to make this as easy as possible. Ask for a schedule of daily tasks that must be completed. Taking your child’s vital signs and routine blood draws are some of the activities that must be completed. Once you know what has to be done, you can work with the staff to develop a schedule to do these around your child’s naps.
While in the hospital, you child will most likely have to have some imaging and other tests, such as sleep studies, MRIs, CT scans or x-rays. When the test requires your child to go without food and drinks after midnight, try to schedule the test as early as possible in the day. If there aren’t any morning slots open on a specific day, find out if the test can wait an extra day or two until a morning slot is available. Alternately, you can find out exactly how long your child has to be without food or drinks before the test and work with the nursing staff to ensure that your child has something to eat and drink shortly before the cut-off time. For example, when my son was having a test at 3p.m., the instructions for the test said that he couldn’t have anything after midnight. After talking to a person at the imaging center, I found out that he had to go at least 6 hours without anything. I fed him at 8a.m. and he was able to have his test and didn’t have to go all day without anything.
Taking Care of You
At most regular hospitals, and most children’s hospitals, a child life program is available to help children who are in the hospital. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this program. In many cases, a child life specialist can come and do activities with your child while you take care of things you need to do for yourself. You can also plan on doing these things when your child is sleeping. Make sure that you have a cell phone-even a prepaid phone will work-so the nurses can call you when your child wakes up.
If your child is neutropenic or has a communicable infection, such as C-diff, your options for being able to do things for yourself may be limited as your child isn’t able to go to group activities or leave his room. In this case, having a nurse you trust is vital because you can plan on getting things done when she is on duty and you know your child will get the care he deserves.
Taking care of a child in the hospital, especially for extended periods of time, is difficult. You have to take care of yourself and be an advocate for your child. Planning your days and working with hospital staff can help to make the transition to hospital living as easy as possible.