8 tips for thriving during an inpatient hospital stay

How a hospitalized columnist maintained her physical and mental well-being

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by Lara Govendo |

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Inpatient hospital stays are common for those of us with cystic fibrosis (CF). Before my double-lung transplant almost six years ago, I’d live at the hospital for several weeks at a time. During those stays, I developed a skill set for thriving while inpatient. Following are some tactics I picked up along the way.

1. I focused on what I could control, as my health circumstances were completely out of my control. I could control my attitude, how I spent my days, and how I interacted with the medical professionals who oscillated in and out of my room. I orchestrated the structure and schedule of my intravenous antibiotics and respiratory treatments. I also worked to balance my physical, mental, and spiritual health.

2. I treated my hospital visits like a job. Each morning, I’d shower after being unhooked from my IV antibiotics. Even though it was challenging to cover my PICC line (and later my port-a-cath), I did it anyway. I wore my own clothes that I brought from home and even put on makeup. I felt better when I took these simple steps because they kept me in my normal routine.

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I still have CF issues even though I’ve had a double-lung transplant

3. I made health goals for each day. Physically, I used oxygen that enabled me to exercise on the stationary bike or run around the hospital grounds. It made for effective airway clearance and also kept me strong. For my mental health, I kept up with therapy, set strict boundaries, and journaled every day. At night, I’d go for a prayer walk and spend time with God, as spiritual health is key, too.

4. Sleep is nearly impossible in the hospital, but it’s necessary for the healing process. Setting up a medication schedule that maximized my sleeping time was crucial. I also put a sign on the door so I could nap undisturbed.

5. Remembering that medical professionals are humans with their own struggles changed how I approached collaboration on my care. And as a therapist, I love listening to people’s stories. So whenever any medical professional came through my door, I made sure they not only felt important and appreciated, but also had space to be themselves and talk if they needed to. I got to learn about their families, how they got into the medical field, and what was weighing on their hearts. I often prayed with them, too. Establishing these connections made my hospital stays easier.

6. Having visitors always lifted my spirits. I was cautious about the people I allowed to visit me, though, because I had to protect my mental well-being. Visitors who pitied me or required me to comfort them in my discomfort weren’t helpful. I made sure there was a very short list of approved visitors.

7. I had to keep my eyes on the prize of feeling better while inpatient. Focusing on being as strong and healthy as possible kept my head in the game. I couldn’t let my thoughts go to the worst that could happen. I had to believe that I’d get better and keep hope alive.

8. And last but certainly not least, I had fun. I laughed and joked with medical professionals and had a blast when my family and friends visited. I learned that laughter is good for the soul and necessary for maintaining my sanity, too.

Even though I was stuck inside the confines of a hospital, I found ways to thrive. I hope this list can help you live your best life while inpatient, too.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


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