The Good, the Bad and the Sickly

With a little luck, I’ll be discharged and head home today.

Here are a whole slew of experiences and observations1 from my last few days in the hospital.

When hospitalized, food and eating have always been problem spots for me.2 During past hospitalizations, I was forced to deal with the arbitrary meal times at which the kitchen sent every patient his or her meal. Breakfast had to be at 7:30 am, lunch at 12:00 noon and dinner at 5:30 pm. Like most people with Crohn’s, however, I eat whenever I can (and whenever my gut says it’s okay). Outside the hospital that usually translates to 4–5 small meals each day, usually starting with breakfast at 5:00 am and ending with a final small meal at 7:00 pm. So inevitably when I would be hospitalized, my meal schedule got entirely messed up, with the biggest problem being that I would go long stretches without anything in my digestive system.3

The good news is that since my last hospitalization, Froedtert has changed to an “on‐demand” approach to patient meals, meaning a patient calls the kitchen at any time during the day/evening and orders a meal then. It’s a great change, but I have to wonder what took so long to implement this.

One big personal nitpick with my care — who’s the genius who scheduled for my central line (a semi‐permanent IV line) to be flushed at 2:00 am every day? Central lines need to be flushed once a day to prevent them from filling with blood and clotting closed (which would make them useless). I’ve had a central line for over six months and am used to flushing it at home every day. It’s a maintenance thing, it takes two minutes and it can be done at any time, so no big deal. That is, no big deal until my medical team decided that instead of flushing the line at some point during the 18 hours when I’m actually awake, they would schedule for me to be awoken every night at 2:00 am for the line to be flushed.

A lot of the old/traditional hospital processes that used to be very bureaucratic — and involve excessive steps and time — have now been streamlined. So it takes less time to get admitted, to be transported to an exam or to receive medications. After what seems like years of pilot programs, the nurses finally have laptop carts where they can record everything electronically. Everything done to a patient starts with scanning the barcode on the patient’s wristband, so the nurse (or other staff) are immediately alerted if the computerized orders don’t match for that patient.

Listening to the ongoing debate on healthcare (including President Obama’s address to Congress on Wednesday evening) while hospitalized provides a unique perspective. For me, it really crystallized some of the base questions and convinced me that the current debate is overlooking (or avoiding) some very critical underlying issues. That discussion, however, deserves it’s own blog post (or posts) — I hope to be able to write and post that over the coming weekend.

In closing, “Thank You” to everyone who has sent get well wishes via phone, email, Facebook, Twitter and this blog. Your words of support really make a difference!

Notes:

  1. These experiences and observations definitely cover the good, the bad and even the ugly ... []
  2. Not a surprise, given I have Crohn’s and knowing that what, when and how I eat directly impact the management of the disease. []
  3. The worst was the 14+ hour stretch between dinner and breakfast. When it comes to Crohn’s, you need every bit of nutrition your body can absorb, but waste over half of every 24 hours with an empty stomach (nothing being digested) and it’s no wonder my weight drops and my disease becomes more irritated while hospitalized. []

About the author

I am a writer, marketing practitioner and astronomer-in-training. My interests include science, technology and the future of just about everything. You can learn more from my Bio page.