How to Make a Hospital Stay More Bearable

I was hospitalized twice last year, and needless to say, it wasn’t fun. But I did learn a few ways to make a hospital stay more bearable.

Wear your own clothes if they let you.

During my second hospital stay, no one told me to put on a hospital gown, except for the day when I had a colonoscopy. So my husband brought me comfortable clothes to wear – t-shirts, pajamas, etc. It was so much nicer and more comfortable to be able to wear my own clothes, especially when walking around the hospital.

Pick out a new (easy) book to read.

One of the things that was hard for me about being hospitalized was having a lot of free time, but little mental energy to do anything. I love to read, but both times I was hospitalized I was in the middle of a nonfiction book that I found challenging to read while not feeling well. It wasn’t until after I got out of the hospital that it occurred to me to just start a new book. I bought Jen Kirkman’s book I Know What I’m Doing—and Other Lies I Tell Myself, which I knew would be a quick read and would make me laugh. It doesn’t have to be a book – my friends also brought me magazines during and after my hospital stay.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

The first time I was hospitalized, the IV was in the crook of my elbow. By the end of the first day, my forearm and hand were swollen, and by the second day, it was too painful to move or bend my arm. When I asked the doctor about it, he said to just try to pump my fist every now and then. One nice nurse tried to straighten out the IV a bit. It wasn’t until the second night that a nurse saw how swollen my arm had gotten and started a new IV in the other arm, not in the elbow. I wish I had just asked earlier if they could move the IV. I also felt bad whenever I had to ask for more water. I don’t really have a secret to not feeling bad or guilty about asking for things, only that you shouldn’t, and if you’re worried about it then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re not even close to being the most demanding patient they’ve ever had.

What advice do you have to make hospital stays more bearable?