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The Hospital At Night is A Horrible Place to Be

BEEP.

BEEP.

BEEP.

BEEP.

BEEP.

BEEP.

BEEP!

Do you hear that? 

Of course you do.

Just when you’re drifting off to sleep your IV pump or someone else’s starts beeping. If not that then it’s noisy staff members in the hallway just outside your room, someone coming in to take your vitals, and then half an hour later someone else coming in to draw blood for labs. Or maybe the call over the speakers for a code blue followed with people running by. 

Who is able to get rest in the hospital? 

Not me. Probably not anyone.

Both irritating and somewhat funny is that throughout my hospital they have signs up about being quiet because patients are resting.  As a patient it looks to be just lip service because it is a very, very rare experience that I have a hospital stay where noise level and my rest seemed to matter to anyone other than myself. 

I’ve had roommates who have had preachers come in and do whole religious services on the other side of the curtain while I am puking, roommates who invite 5+ loud visitors into the room who 

sign that hangs in U of Michigan hospital that says "SHHH Patients are healing." Next to the sign stands Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter saying "THIS IS A LIE!" because it's never quiet in that hospital

keep the lights and television on and behave as though there isn’t a very sick person (me) in the room that they should respect, nurses who come into the room once for me and then return 10-20 minutes later to do something for my roommate when it all could have been done at the same time, etc etc etc! 

Then there is one of my biggest pet peeves: Opening the door and entering my room and then leaving without shutting the door when I am attached to things that keep me unable to leave my bed without assistance like an NG tube connected to suction for example. So now I have the bright lights and loud noises of the hallway keeping me from falling back asleep unless I call the nurse to have her come shut my door because they or someone else left it open.  Gahhhhh I hate that so much!

The Roommate

One time (last summer) I had my very first experience staying in a hospital that has shared rooms. I have been spoiled in the past because my previous hospital had large, private rooms for every patient. So last summer one of the many roommates (an elderly woman) that I had during the 6 weeks that I was there apparently stopped breathing or something during the night and a Code Blue was called.

Gif of Homer Simpson laying on hospital bed being shocked back to life

I awoke to lights blaring down on me and tons of people rushing into the room and making a lot of noise. I was sleep deprived, confused, sick, and had a fever so my brain was taking awhile to register what was going on but I felt very scared. All I knew was that just a few feet and a curtain separated me from her and when there are that many people in your room they have to open the curtain to make enough space for them to work. 

They needed to put a tube in her neck and they were doing it practically standing on top of me. Sweet bird of paradise! The sounds, their words, her dying… it was all too much and I couldn’t find my voice. Eventually I managed to

ask one of the people with their back to my bed if they could have someone wheel me out of the room. I ended up in the loud bright hallway for the rest of the night. I did feel really bad for my roommate though but luckily she ended up being OK. The situation was scary for me but I’m sure it was much more scary for her.

The Very Worst Roommate

The best, and by best I mean worst, however was my roommate Karen. Karen’s problems seemed to be more of the head than of the body. Considering there is absolutely no privacy when it comes to the information that gets exchanged during rounds when you’re sharing a hospital room I was able to hear the discussions that took place every morning between her and her doctors. From their conversations I gathered that Karen had either Munchausen’s or some sort of somatoform illness; at least her doctors thought so and it looked that way to me as well. 

Each morning I listened to Karen tell her doctors how awful she was doing while requesting more pain and nausea medication. Karen had a cast on her arm and also claimed that she could not get up to walk

On the other side of that curtain was Karen, my worst hospital roommate ever!

to walk because she was too sick. However, once her doctors left the room she would drink tons of soda, eat lots of food, and was perfectly mobile; walking all around her side of the room. I mentioned the soda because she would call the nurse tech what seemed like every 20 minutes requesting more soda. It was crazy how much she drank! I’ve never seen anything like it. When her doctors would come by she’d say in this breathy whimpering voice that she couldn’t eat or drink at all and that she wasn’t doing any better. Karen would listen in on my rounds (did I mention how I hate shared rooms?) and repeat things that I said to her own doctors which was alarming. She saw my PICC line one day (I was on TPN) and asked me about it. Guess what Karen wanted from her doctors the next morning? Yep! She wanted a PICC line. Oddly enough after a few days of bugging them she was given one. I think they just didn’t know what to do with her. It was an unfortunate sign to me that she wasn’t leaving any time soon.

A silly drawing I made during that hospital stay of Karen and her commode and me on the other side.

None of that is what made her the worst. 

It was her commode. Since she was telling her doctors she couldn’t walk she had a commode on her side of the room. Do you guys know where she used this commode? RIGHT UP AGAINST THE CURTAIN SEPARATING HER FROM ME. The curtain that was up against my bedside table! She would roll out of bed, sit on it, and her back would be touching my table with just a curtain between her and it. The sounds of her using the bathroom… her… it was so gross.  I don’t even know if she had toilet paper over there but I do know that she never brushed her teeth. 

Since I knew that she actually could walk I had enough one day and told on her and made them move her commode to the other side of the room. Her doctors

decided to remove the commode all together and guess what! Karen managed to walk to the bathroom. What a blessed miracle! *biggest eye roll ever*

She’d also let her IV beep forever until I got fed up and pushed the call button and she would say, Oh, was that mine? I thought it was yours. NO YOU F*%@#!!  She’d do the same thing with her phone and accidentally turn on her music and let it play forever until she realized she did that. It takes a lot to make me really dislike a person, but Karen I did not like! 

More Things That Prevent Sleep in the Hospital

gif of Blanche from Golden Girls saying through her teeth "God, I wish I was dead"

I know that they draw labs at 4am because they want the results to be ready for the doctors who round in the morning but REALLY? After I have been in the hospital for a week or more my mood turns sour quick. If you’re coming into my room every single night at 4 in the morning and turning on the light to take blood I am going to want to kill you if you come back in an hour to take my vitals. Just do it at the same time!

 It’s especially fun when I don’t have a central line and they have to poke me to draw blood. It’s always a process, it’s usually multiple pokes, and sometimes 

multiple people which leads to my light being on for a long time and me being awake and poked continuously when all I want to do is sleep. You fall back asleep only for them to come do vitals 20 minutes later. You fall back asleep again and your doctors are waking you up for rounds.

How are you doing today, Sara? 

Today? How am I doing?! I just fell asleep! 

I can’t even think clearly. Half the time I give a half assed answer because I want it over and done with. This does no favors for me or my doctors.

After that don’t bother trying to sleep because soon they will bring you a repulsive tray of beef broth and green jello for breakfast and start asking you if you want to take a shower, walk, change, and how much you went to the bathroom last night. I’ve often been asked by my nurses and other medical staff why I sleep all day in the hospital. Are you kidding me? It’s the only time I have to steal a couple of hours because the night time sure isn’t for sleeping.  

Do you guys have any stories about the hospital at night or awful roommates? Share below in the comments! 

I've often been asked by my nurses and other medical staff why I sleep all day in the hospital. Are you kidding me? It's the only time I have to steal a couple of hours because the night time sure isn’t for sleeping.

Sara

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