Last spring my son was in and out of the ER at BC Children’s Hospital. Following that he had a two week hospital stay just after his seventh birthday. It was a really bad infection in his hand that went to the blood and bone and frankly scared me to no end. If he or his brother is ever in the hospital again there are a few things that I know now that will make the hospital stay a little easier. I’d like to share them with you, in the event that you find yourself in the same situation. I will not lie to you and tell you that having your child in the hospital will be easy, but there are some things that can make a difference.
In some of the bigger wards at BC Children’s Hospital you may not have the same nurse twice over the course of your stay. This means you will be the constant in the care of your child. Keeping abreast of what is being done to and with your child is very helpful. You know your child best and knowing what is going on will keep things on track. For example, when changing the dressings on my son’s hand there were some things that worked and some that didn’t. Knowing what worked and letting the nurse know made a big difference in making things run more smoothly. Also taking notes can be really helpful if you are trading off time with your partner so that they know as much as you do and vice versa.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There are some services that really help inside BC Children’s Hospital and if you don’t have them come to you right away you can ask for them to come. This is sometimes a little more difficult over a holiday weekend but the nurses can let you know who to talk to. Child Life is helpful for distracting your child and they usually give your child a small package at the beginning of their stay. When my son was getting an IV in one of the Child Life people distracted him with an iPad. We were also visited by the Sunshine Bundle volunteers. If you have extended health care this is a great deal and it ends up paying for your parking.
You will be running on nerves and adrenaline but your body actually does need some fuel. Around BC Children’s Hospital there are a few places to get food for the adults. In the main lobby of the children’s hospital there is a Blenz that is open early and pretty late. They sell sandwiches and oatmeal and sweets. Use the fridge and kitchenette on the ward. Bring a few frozen meals or some tea and something to drink. The closest Starbucks is in the Ambulatory Care building across from the main entrance and emergency entrances of the hospital though it is not open as often or as long as the Blenz. There is also a cafeteria but it takes a bit of a walk to find it. To get to the cafeteria head south towards BC Women’s and watch for signs. It will seem like a long way, but you will find it. Let friends and family bring food, not only will it make them feel better but it will save you money.
Take a bit of Time for Yourself
There are a number of volunteers willing and able to stay in the room with your child while you make yourself a cup of tea or go outside for a minute. If your child is on the mend enough and is of school age take advantage of the school room at BC Children’s Hospital. There are qualified teachers there who will work with your kids. It will give you a few minutes to breathe and it starts to bring some normalcy to your child. The school only runs in the morning, but they are willing to give your child something to do while they are bored in bed. There are also balconies all over the hospital. Taking a few minutes to get some fresh air will help you to cope. Remember it is OK to need to take a bit of a break.
Cell Service and Wifi at BC Children’s Hospital
The hospital has free wifi but the cell service is extremely spotty. If you rely on your cell phone (and to be honest the telephones in the rooms are not great) you may want to find a way to communicate over wifi as you will have easier access. There are some places that do have cell service but there are a lot of dead zones.
Being at BC Children’s Hospital will be stressful for you and all your family. Siblings may be scared and act out, bedtimes will be different, routines moved and a lot of extra people will be part of your lives. Take a deep breath and know that BC Children’s Hospital will do their very best for your child and you. Everything will go back to normal eventually.