Preparing for Hospital stays

Ive done this so many times, yet almost every time its about to happen again I fill with so much sadness. Going to hospital sucks, no matter if its planned or emergency. But there are some things that help make our lives a teeny tiny bit easier.

I hope you never need any of these tips, but just incase you do, here are my essentials for any hospital stay.

If you are a family that sometimes needs to go to hospital as an emergency case, know it, accept it, embrace it and be prepared.

I have graduated from “bag always packed” to a storage crate with “hospital things” where I can quickly grab what I need depending on the situation (emergency / planned) and go. This also makes it easier for family and friends to find things that I may need brought to me as the things live in the box. In Dubai hospitals provide so much, in Poland hardly anything, but our needs as a family have been almost the same in both places either way.

-In Dubai we have often been lucky enough to have our own fridge in the hospital room, every gluten free families dream! In those that don’t supply a fridge however there is usually a patient fridge you can use. Sometimes there is even a kettle and some coffee making facilities. What ALL hospitals with a shared fridge have in common is that they want the patients name on any items they store there, usually anything without a name will get tossed away. So there you are trying to label your milk / cheese / juice at 3 am with a non working biro. Not me. Anymore. We have a hospital box now. Its just a small plastic container that is large enough to hold our butter, cheese, a small milk box and a few other bits. Its labelled with our girls name and lots of funky gluten free stickers. Not only is it clear it is ours, the box also protects our stuff from contamination. You can always spot a fellow chronic illness family by their boxes. Nobody uses a box for just a few stays…..

-A special hospital activity box. I saw another mum with this and was immediately super sure we would add this to our repertoire. I bought Ikeas smallest storage box and got the clips to keep it secure. Its small, but still large enough to fit things to keep us entertained for a few days. Currently our box holds colouring pens and crayons, a small blank book for drawing, a small colouring book. A stack of cards, Uno, some dice. A small Sylvanian family family, a beading set and some toy brochures. Our last hospital stay we had great fun decorating the box with stickers that I had brought along. I have spare stuff in our school room to swap stuff around with. The sylvanian family was bought especially for the hospital box so doesn’t get played with at other times, makes them special. Before the Sylvanian family it was a littlest petshop thingy with accessories. Its not so hard to find small things to put in the box, and whatever space it takes will be absolutely worth it.

-Toiletries bag. Yeah, so many times I would just franticly throw a few things in a bag, ultimately need more and buy it in the overpriced hospital shop or get hubby to bring stuff, usually the wrong stuff and he always without fail brought it in some supermarket plastic bag. We have toiletry bags we use for holidays and nights away obviously, but I bit the bullet and invested in a hospital one, large enough for me and kiddo to share, and always packed and sitting in the Hospital crate. Actually it was some freebie bag so I didn’t even pay for it. It has hand cream (you always, without fail need hand cream when you are in hospital, trust me on this one), toothbrushes, toothpaste, travel pack sized shampoos, soap, deodorant, a hairbrush and some hair ties as well as hair clips, and some sanitary towels. With the toiletries bag always packed I know I am covered. Almost everything is labelled btw. Because when your kid is sick and your brain melted 3 days ago, you tend to leave stuff lying around.

-Slippers or flipflops. Really. If you are in Poland some babcia or nurse will kill you if you have no slippers, and anyway, you don’t want to be walking around gucky hospital floors without. In Poland they will tell you off if you use your outdoor shoes indoors too. Just don’t argue with me (or them), bring slippers. (A small hint here, on day 3 or so of being in hospital your spirits will be a bit squished and you will feel crappy and horrible and you will miss your own bed, this is when your red IKEA Christmas slippers that you bought for 9zl in a sale will start to bother you because the other mums are all far more stylish and have way nicer slippers. Get nice slippers just for hospital stays, ones that scream that you are a fashionista and that will boost your flaying morale when its dipping. Not ones that make you feel like a total loser – trust me. I know.) Don’t forget slippers for the patient too!

-A small pillow and blanket, Make it a nice pillow, one that is usually in your kids bed, something that smells of home, and yet something that is comfy enough for you (mum or dad) to sleep on if need be. The blanket is to hide the hideousness that is hospital bed covers, and also again, for you incase you need it. Not all hospitals provide a bed for parents, and if they do, getting bedding is not always an option (or they give you the scratchiest blanket the world has ever seen). Having our own stuff has always been super comforting for both of us, again well worth whatever space it takes.

-If in Poland – Towels. We have been in I think 6 different Polish hospitals, only one provided towels and they were not very nice (there was more thread then actual toweling material). So in our hospital crate now lives a gorgeous pink ballerina towel for little madam, and a bath towel for me plus a small hand towel.

-Clothes, For you and your child. In Poland hospitals don’t provide gowns even for the sickest patients, so bring everything you may need. Keep in mind your child will probably receive an IV line soon after arriving so you don’t want long tight fitting sleeves, go for short sleeve things that are easy to take on and off. For you, lots of comfy t shirts and hoodies and soft pants. As long as your slippers look good you are ok, and you can use the hoodie to hide your hair. 😛

-Plastic bags. Seriously. They will give you stuff, your child will collect stuff, stickers and bears and small toys, you will need it for clothes that are dirty or have had accidents in. Just bring a few, if you can, hand dirty clothes to your spouse to take home when they visit.

-Charger pouch. Really, just do it. I have a small pouch with charging cables ready to go, you don’t want to be without your phone or iPad even for a second. I have a multi charger, so 3 cables can go in one adapter. Best thing I ever bought.

-A trolley case. A duffel bag may be all very well and good, but you may need to walk far with it if parking is bad, and in an emergency you may be carrying your child as well as the bag. Whatever bag you choose, make sure it fits everything on your list, and that it has wheels! We have a red bag that we only use for hospitals.

-Food. Snacks. Drinks. If in Dubai – ignore, just call room service 😉 In Poland however, you wont even get a bottle of water or a juice, you will need to bring all your own drinks and also snacks. For allergy peeps, bring your own food also. (Don’t forget coffee and tea and a cup and cutlery!)

With all that said we prepare for our next stay in hospital next week. Im heartbroken, but I know at least having all that we need will make it all a little bit easier.

 

Swine flu is in my town

I think swineflu is my stalker. Little madam was born prematurely during the 2009 swine flu outbreak. We kept her isolated from people and crowded places for months. I frantically learned everything I could about the darn virus, as you do when you have OCD and you are a helicopter mum. (<- I am. The gluten and allergies just gave me an excuse. Truth. Sorry, lol)

Now here we are, with a kid with a wonky immune system who has a lung disease, someone who is not allowed to be vaccinated because we don’t think she fights viruses the way she should. We are those people that aren’t allowed to get it. People say its “just a flu”, but fact remains, swineflu kills more people then “normal” flu does. It killed people in my town. Yesterday. Its here.

So. Great. Because I dont want to murder people who cough on my kid on normal days….. (being sarcastic). Now I also have to suspect them of having swine flu! Im wondering how long we can stay home. Im wondering if I should take my older child out of school, Im wondering if we can get tesco delivery for the next two months and if the tesco delivery guy is coughing on my stuff when Im not looking? Im wondering if Poland can handle a large outbreak and Im wondering if Im overreacting and Im oh so tired of always. bloody. worrying.

We are supposed to go in to hospital in 10 days. The very hospital that will look after the kids swine flu cases if there are any. They agreed to put us in isolation. Is that enough?

Breathe breathe breathe. Thats todays task. Breathing and ordering food.

Stay safe in flippin virus world!

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My top 10 tips for parents for when your kid is sick.

  1. Dont do laundry. Forget laundry. Buy new clothes, online if you have to. Only do laundry when you absolutely feel up to it or its absolutely necessary. Better yet, have someone else do it. Remember, Its not going anywhere!
  2. Have many beds. When a bed is puked on, peed on or worse (!!) in the middle of the night, don’t bother, clean the child and move beds. Deal with any disasters in the morning (although wet stuff should obviously at least be tipped off the bed).
  3. Own many sheets (see above). If you ever had to change 3 beds in the morning and expect to change them again in the day, you will know you need more then one extra set for each bed, ESPECIALLY if you are a follower of point one. Although this may be one of those “absolutely necessary” moments.
  4. Ipads, TV, phones, heck, any screen you can find. There. are. no. screen. rules. when. ones. child. is. sick. Oh yeah, thats for the mum…… you can apply this to the child also. 😉
  5. Pizza is a nutritionally adequate dinner when you need it to be. If you are gluten free and god knows what else free, you will learn to batch cook and get stuff from the freezer. Rice spaghetti with batch cooked bolognese anyone?
  6. Getting dressed is for losers. Pyjamas rules. If you MUST, then fine, wear day clothes that are presentable enough for the DHL guy (who is delivering your new clothes), but there must be no buttons or zips anywhere.
  7. Ice lollies. Get those ikea ice lolly makery things and freeze juice. Kids will LOVE these even when sick (and they will think you are a superb parent for supplying them).
  8. Keep plenty of medications on hand. Having moved back to Europe I have learned two things, pharmacies in most places don’t deliver, and they are usually closed at times when you most need medication. So unless you want to drive (in pyjamas) to the one open pharmacy at midnight thats 1 hour away, keep everything you need at home. Plus extras.
  9. Hospital runs never happen calmly. If there is even the slightest chance you may end up in one, pack in advance. Otherwise you will end up in there with uber ugly slippers (the other mums WILL laugh at you) and whatever strange stuff your husband / friend / neighbour can come up with to bring you 1-2 days later, usually stuff from the “I am donating this to the red cross box because it no longer fits me” pile. I speak from experience here. Just pack ok?
  10. Chocolate. Yes. It really IS the answer sometimes. I don’t even like chocolate so much. But sometimes. it fixes almost everything. Go ahead. Calories don’t count when your kid is sick 🙂

-Linda

 

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An unwilling homeschooler

Yup. Not only am I one of those mums *insert eyeroll*, I am now also about to be one of THOSE mums *insert even bigger eyeroll*.

We are back from the lung hospital. We have the results from the immunologists. And guess what, there is nothing wrong with with our kid! (Apart from recurring pneumonias with low oxygen levels).

PCD, CF, back normal, no growths or foreign objects in the lung. No asthma although she may be heading that way. A couple of new allergies diagnosed. All immune levels are ok, some a bit low, but within the accepted range, some signs of autoimmune activity that needs to be followed up but thats it.

The doctors agree that its not normal to get so many severe pneumonias, and they agree the low oxygen levels that go along with it are also not normal, all our specialists were so sure they would find something, either in the lung or with her immune system, and I know I shouldn’t be disappointed, because obviously its great news that she’s ok and its not one of the big things, but I cant help but think that this isn’t over at all….

Oh, and there is a plan. Her pulmonologist and immunologist agree that she needs “time off”. A year off school I asked, and the reply was; “probably more like 2”.

I should be happy about this as well as my gut instinct has been telling me for a good year or two now to take her out of school so she can rest, but again, I feel cheated somehow, I wanted a better answer, an answer where we could actually DO something.

I know, it makes sense to have her rest and not be near other kids for a couple of years, if one pneumonia takes 6-12 months to get over she really does have her work cut out for her. But a diagnosis of ‘lots of bad luck and vicious circle and immune system that needs to mature etc’ just doesn’t sound very much like a real diagnosis to me.

One of her antibodies to pneumonia was a little low, but not so much, her overall igg is a bit on the low side but acceptable, the igg1 a bit on the low side but acceptable. FUCK acceptable. Acceptable doesn’t get us anywhere. What if we wait two years and then after that there is no change?

Now back on to the steroids also, yeah, the ones that make her not grow and suffer from bone pain. The ones that make her cry walking down the stairs, the ones that when she came off them she rapidly grew 3 cm!

Im so so tired.

On the bright side we have had doctors confirm she shouldn’t be in school and the paper work to support it. On the not so bright side I need to come up with a home schooling plan in a country where you are only allowed to home school in extreme cases and if so then it must be in Polish.

Anyway. Bla bla. Still sort of processing all this, and Im feeling positive, ish, but also not so much.

Deep breaths and all that.

-Linda

Krakow for the day

So yesterday we went to Krakow. Met a wonderful professor who spoke exellent english, she took her time to explain things thoroughly and answer my many questions in regards to previous results. We are now looking at antibodies to different pneumonias and other illnesses, she suggested that although the IGG subclasses and overall IGG was ok (a tad low but ok) that maybe perhaps the issues is that the immune system , although it has what it needs, doesn’t function normally when there is an infection, she will follow up with us once we have been to Rabka. She even gave me her personal mobile number. Such a relief.

We came home, and I was so tired I ate and went to bed with the kids at 8pm! Probably a good thing as I wont be getting a bed in Rabka! Ha.

I need to say that I have been so surprised by the lack of negative attention we get from A wearing a mask, I expected stares etc, but we have had none of it! Some looks, yes sure, but accompanied by smiles, nothing else. Infact, yesterday in the Krakow hospital a man came running after me to ask where I got the mask! She was wearing her pink minnie mouse mask at the time. I am so glad we got them, it was the right choice for sure. And the immunologist agrees she should absolutely wear one in crowded places until we have a firm diagnosis.

I wish I had been able to help the man with finding them, he spoke no english and me explaining etsy in Polish may not have been very successful! Good luck to him, poor family feeling that they need one. Makes me want to give him a hug.

-Linda

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Everything happens for a reason…. right?

Not going to update you all on speculations. There are many. When I asked our doctor if they would find it this time the reply was ‘we are not letting you go til we have’. Feels good, reassuring. I cant wait now to find out, I cant wait so that we can help her.

This last pneumonia scared the living daylight out of me…. at one point we had 12, yes twelve doctors in our room, from ICU, pulminology and immunology, all trying to figure out what to do with this tiny weenie little girl who kept going lower and lower with her oxygen levels.

She didn’t speak for 4 days, then on the 5th day small words came. Day 6, finally sentences. Im in bits now. I wasn’t then. I was the calm and collected super mum, always am. After… thats another story. Day 8 we went home. We have enough medications on the dining room table to run a small clinic.

So now what? We wait, we wait for test results on the IGG subclasses (other fancy terms no parent ever should need to learn!), then once we have those we go to Rabka, another hospital in the mountains, but with more advanced diagnostic methods, they may need to see the inside of her lungs (how the hell this happens I have no idea, Im scared to ask).

Then after that, unless we have a 100% diagnosis at that point we are off to Krakow to the immunology hospital there, who have diagnostic tools that they don’t have here.

Whatever is going on with pumpkin pie, its not her celiac. This crap, its something else. No stone will be left unturned, but the belief is that its her immune system, something I have been saying for a couple of years now.

I do believe everything happens for a reason, and if this is what we have been sent to deal with then so be it. We need to try to make the best of it and do the best we can to make life as “normal” as we can, for celiac kid, but also big brother who always ends up coming second.
And no matter what we are going through, there are always people who have it far far worse. Complaining wont help.
We are still lucky. We could be the far far worse people….

-Linda

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You win some you loose some….. (allergies!)

So we are back from the hospital in the mountains. It was amazing, gorgeous, and calm and everything you could possibly ever ask for in a hospital, the scenery in Karpacz is amazing. Oh, and they could FEED her! First hospital stay where she ate the food!!

Results? Well, not all test results are in yet, but it looks like CF is more or less ruled out. Celiac kiddos lungs are healthy with no damage! If anything she has strong lungs that have been able to cope with so many pneumonias. The doctor almost got himself a big slobbery kiss when he told me this. Then I remembered Im married (although the news was so amazing Im sure hubby would have forgiven me, heck, even done the kissing himself!).

We left with a couple of handfuls of more allergies diagnosed, but egg was not giving a reaction this time!! We had an egg challenge which went well so we are now able to introduce limited egg to the diet!

So what remains now? The liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, spleen etc have all been looked at! So, now the immune system. Her blood is fine, but part of the immune system has something to do with the cells, so thats next on the list. We are also being reffered to the paediatric gastros here in Wroclaw to speak about her growth (which is not really happening) and follow up in regards to her Celiac.

Now fingers crossed the genetic test and last sweat test comes back clear, but the doctor wouldn’t even consider that it may not as her lungs are GOOD! Woop woop!

I leave you with some images from Karpacz, all iPhone pictures, so just imagine if I’d had my proper camera!

-Linda