If you or your child need surgery for a congenital heart defect it is likely you may have an extended hospital stay at some point in your heart journey. Recovery from surgery may be several days, weeks, or even months depending on if there are any complications that arise. Living in the hospital can be stressful. Emotions run high, exhaustion sets in. On top of the physical and mental fatigue there may be the financial burden of missed work and medical bills. Here are some ways to foster good health during your stay.
After most heart surgeries the first day(s) of recovery will likely be spent in your hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Here the care ratio is typically 1:1 or 2:1. These rooms are not like regular hospital rooms, but allow for a much higher level of care during a critical recovery period. Here you will interact with many different medical professionals who provide close care around the clock. Below is a link to a short handbook written by Brad and Elisa Hall during their extended stay in the cardia ICU with their daughter, Eden.
Our culture prides itself on independence and self-reliance and this can be a hard habit to break. When you are living in the hospital you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s likely you will have at least one friend or family member tell you, “Let me know if I can help.” Most people genuinely want to help, they just don’t know what to do. Tell them! Find a friend to take care of your pets. Ask your neighbor to watch your older kids after they get off the bus. Let people bring you food. It makes them feel good that they are able to help and it lifts a burden from you during an already difficult time.
“Sometimes accepting help is harder than offering it.” – Star Wars, The Clone Wars
If you are a parent, you will be able to stay in your child’s room once they move to a regular hospital room. However, while in the ICU, many hospitals do not allow parents to sleep in the room. Ask if your hospital has sleep rooms for parents to stay near the ICU. Another option would be to see if your hospital has a Ronald McDonald House. The RMH will provide a room and hot meals to families while their child is hospitalized. Rooms are booked in advance so contact your child’s hospital RMH as soon as you have a date for admission.