Aliza CZ. – Scholarship Contest Essay
Posted on July 31st, 2012 by Admin
Editor's Note: Aliza CZ. is a patient/caregiver who submitted the following essay as part of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Patient, Caregiver Scholarship Contest. To vote, simply use the Facebook "Like" or Twitter "Tweet" buttons at the bottom of each post to share or leave a positive comment. The top vote-getters will be finalists.
I have learned the hard way that one must always be their own advocate, or have a strong person advocating fully on their behalf, whenever in any medical situation. I live my life on a precarious line between my own "healthy and stable" and often quickly swinging in the opposite direction to "sick and unstable." I live each day of my life managing type 1, cystic fibrosis related diabetes (even my doctors are puzzled as to which it is, after 11 years), a rare form of cystic fibrosis, asthma, bronchiectasis, a weakened immune system, pseudotumor cerebri (also known as intracranial hypertension), and obsessive compulsive disorder.
I require a hospitalization every few months or so because of frequent lung and sinus infections, and while I'm a pro at administering IV antibiotics at home, sometimes the hospital is just a necessity. For one who hasn't spent much time in or around hospitals, it would seem that being inpatient rather than home IV administration would be safer, but in the hospital, one must be on one's toes at all times! I've had techs come in to take me for the wrong test, ordered for some other patient, brought medications not meant for me, and even not brought my medications for a day because admissions and pharmacy were backed up. That's never a good thing!
So, over the last ten years or so, I've learned some fairly simple tips for hospitalizations. I hope that some of these tips can help you as well if you find yourself in an inpatient setting in the future!
- Don't be afraid to ask questions! While you may not have the letters "M.D." or "R.N." after your name, you are the expert when it comes to your own body. After all, you are the one living, feeling, and experiencing the symptoms in your body.
- When getting medications, ask what you are being given. Mistakes happen all too often, and you don't want to get the wrong medications or even worse, something to which you are allergic or will cause other adverse interactions.
- Bring a list of all medications and supplements that you regularly take at home. Many cannot be abruptly discontinued, or some may interact with treatment that you will require in the hospital.
- Have a friend or family member stay with you, if possible. Unless you are in an intensive care unit or a procedure, it has always been my experience that a family member or friend can stay, even overnight.
- Let your own doctor know that you are in the hospital if he/she was not the one to admit you, and if you have multiple doctors on your team caring for chronic conditions, let them know that you are there as well.
- If you are in a teaching hospital, know that you will see many faces, and doctors at varying levels of their training, from first year medical students, to those completing fellowships in specialties. Do not be afraid to directly ask to see the attending physician before any procedure is done, or major changes are made to your care.
- When you know that you are going to be staying in the hospital in advance, pack a bag! Bring some comfortable clothing that you can wear if you do not have to wear a gown. If you have a favorite blanket or pillow, bring that as well. You may sleep easier with comforts from home.
- Bring any specialized medical equipment or medication that you use at home with you. Things like insulin pump supplies, battery chargers for power wheelchairs, and specific tube feeding formula may not be available at your hospital.
- Pack something to keep you occupied. I usually bring my laptop, iPad, a book (and my Nook), paper and pens, and my cellphone. If bringing electronics, remember power cords!
- Bring some snacks along with you. This is especially important if you have diabetes, of any type, or any other sort of digestive or metabolic condition. The most important thing that I can say is to be your own advocate. You have to stay on your toes when you are in any medical setting.
Tags: Caregiver scholarships, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, obsessive compulsive disorder, Patient scholarships