Tips For Critical Care
Since I just experienced another go around, I would like to share some tips for critical care for a loved one.
Writing is my therapy. In 1993, my initial experience of providing two weeks of critical care for my first husband before his death resulted in my first book, Listen for the Whispers: Coping with Grief and Learning to Live Again. I do not intend to write another book. But, I would like to write a blog post about tips for critical care.
Managing the health care of a loved one is challenging. The emotional pull is strong. And on top of that, today’s complex healthcare system is exhausting. So, put the two together and it is a tug-o-war on your soul.
I would like to offer some tips for critical care from my recent experience of the on-and-off month-long hospitalization of my second husband.
Please note that these are tips. Not expert advice. And remember, I only take my own advice about sixty percent of the time. Just like you, I am human.
Friends and family like to stay in the information loop. I found that one daily text message, that I copied and pasted, kept everyone informed. It prevented tiresome repetition and long phone calls in my much needed quiet time. I could keep well-intended people at arms length, yet bring them in to the fold.
Repeat and Persist
Shift changes and hospital rotations bring you in contact with many people who do not always know your full set of circumstances. It is okay to retell you story with each person. Be polite, of course, but don’t feel you are being a pain. That way things do not get missed. If a request has not been acted upon, ask again. Hospitals are busy places.
Know the Systems
I learned about a hospitalist, the point person. This doctor replaces the need for family physician’s rounds. Use this valuable resource. Also, investigate into long term parking options. Daily visit costs can add up. Additionally, look for hospital coupons or cafeteria discounts at the check-in desk.
When I speak to grief groups, I mention that it is easier to give help than to accept it. If you are an independent, strong minded person, take a big gulp and swallow a little pride and know when you need help. And then ask for it. People are happy to give it. And if there is free stuff… take it.
Keep Up With The Household
Do a few tasks each day so that stuff does not build up. It is fine to go to disposable plates and silverware to cut down on dishes. Throw small loads in the washer instead of waiting for a big one. Stock up on some healthy prepared meals. Or even better, if possible, take yourself out to dinner. Write a to-do list for each day to stay organized.
It is difficult to keep everything in your head, so keep a notebook. Write down details daily. The days can blur together. Date everything. Include names and titles and phone numbers if possible.
Gratitude Comes With Healing
The patient is vulnerable and needs your help. Don’t expect there will be an abundance of thank yous. Although you may want some acknowledgement, hold off any requests until the crisis has passed. Let your friends and family boost you up. It is also permissible to cry with them.
Be Good to Yourself
Being the caregiver is hard. You are the glue for the broken pieces. Make sure to eat as well as possible, get your rest, and try and find moments of levity and diversion.
If you happen to be facing this scenario like I did, good luck! If an occasion presents itself in the near future, you can always reread this post. And just do your best. As I said, I was not perfect in following my own advice.