How to Cope with a Spouse or Child’s Hospitalization

As I mentioned earlier, my husband was scheduled for surgery last week (hence my absence from the blog.) Even though we were pretty prepared, it’s been quite the learning experience nonetheless. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Warn Colleagues Ahead of Time
Obviously this tip is only if you know your spouse or child is scheduled for hospitalization. I kept my team members, bosses, and project managers apprised of my schedule and any changes so they could adjust client expectations or pick up any overflow. Everyone is very understanding, but it’s helps to keep in touch just in case something comes up.

Schedule Bill Payments in Advance
Before my husband went to the hospital, he scheduled all upcoming bill payments so I wouldn’t have to think about it. If it’s an emergency, try to take a few minutes as soon as you can to pay bills online, then you won’t worry if you paid the electric bill.

Arrange to Have Someone with You
Even with a routine surgery, things come up. I was hesitant to have my mom come stay with me, but I’m very glad I did. She stayed at my house to make me dinner, run some errands, and even did a little cleaning. She also provided moral support when I was stressed out. If you have kids, it’s even more important to make arrangements in advance to have someone help out. Just make sure it’s not someone who will cause you even more stress!

Get Money from the ATM
You don’t want to be hunting for cash when you want to buy a bottle of water. Take out some money before the surgery so you don’t have to worry about it later.

Investigate Weekly Parking
When my husband checked in, the hospital gave me a flyer listing parking options. As you probably know, parking charges at hospitals are often outrageous. However, they offered a lower-cost parking plan at a garage half a block away. I bought a weekly parking pass for $25. This way I don’t have to worry about having cash for parking or what time the garage closes. If I used the valet or another garage, it could easily cost me $11-$20 a day.

Pack Water and Healthy Snacks
Hospital cafeterias are not the cheapest places in the world (although they’re no worse than any other cafeteria.) Rather than contend with whatever they happened to be serving that day, I ate lunch and dinner at home, and packed healthy snacks and bottles of water for my hospital visits. Obviously, I brought books to help pass the time, too.

Get Out of the Hospital
It’s hard, but you have to leave the hospital some times. Go home for meals if possible. Go home to sleep. Take some time for your mental and physical health. You can’t take care of your loved one if you don’t take care of yourself.

Complete an Advance Directive
You can give your advance directive to your personal doctor to have on file. You should also bring one to the hospital for scheduled surgeries. They’ll ask you about it. Be prepared to make decisions and sign documents on your spouse’s behalf.

Even when it’s scheduled and “routine,” a hospitalization is stressful for everyone in the family. Make sure you take care of yourself, get the support you need, and be as prepared as possible. It will reduce some of your stress.

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