Most people probably picture me lying around all day eating Bon Bons and watching TV for two weeks straight, but that just isn't true, friends. It's Netflix, not regular TV. And I prefer sour gummy treats over Bon Bons any day of the week.
For anyone who might be wondering, here's a little bit about what hospital life is like.
Usually sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 am, I'm awakened by someone saying, "Jennifer? I'm so and so from Respiratory, here for your morning treatment."
They do a quick check of my oxygen saturation and heart rate, then listen to my lungs with a stethoscope. After that, I get hooked up to my Vest. The Vest is, well, just that - a big vest connected to a machine that inflates with air and pulsates at different speeds. The purpose of The Vest is to shake the mucus in my lungs free, making it easier to cough up.
(CF causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the body, and that mucus makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If we are unable to clear the mucus out of our lungs, they become a very easy target for infection.)
At the same time the Vest is going I inhale a few different nebulized medications, some of which include Albuterol (to open the airways), Pulmozyme (to break up that nasty mucus), and Hypertonic Saline (which draws fluid into the airways, again - to thin the mucus). I do the same treatments at home, usually twice a day. Here in the hospital, I do them four times a day.
|Morgan has loved the "jiggly vest" since she was a baby|
Pulmonary Rehab is really just a fancy term we like to use for "exercise". Each day I workout for half an hour to get my blood pumping and my lungs working! I usually walk/jog on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike, and every once in a great, great while I'll do a little weight lifting. (Believe me when I say it's just a little. I have the upper body body strength of a kitten.)
The Rehab technicians (I made that up, I really don't have a clue what their job title is) are really great about helping find the best and most beneficial workout for each individual, and they also give great tips and advice about how to maintain a good workout routine at home.
While in the hospital, I'm treated with multiple IV and oral antibiotics. The combination of meds changes from time to time, depending on what strain(s) of bacteria my lungs are currently culturing. I'm hooked up to something called a CADD pump that pumps medication into my body throughout the course of the day. I'm hooked up the the CADD pump 24 hours a day, except when I get disconnected to shower or they stop infusion to give me a different antibiotic (hung on an IV pole).
The CADD pump and medication are both kept in a small bag that is not only conveniently portable, but also doubles as a super hip fashion accessory.... especially when worn fanny-pack style.
|I'm not sure if you can tell, but I'm totally "smizing" in this picture.|
Tyra would be proud.
My meds are administered through a port -- a medical device implanted under the skin (usually the chest) that provides long-term venous access. I got my port last year and I haven't experienced a single moment of regret. In fact, I'm strangely proud of my port and chances are, if you know me in person, I've probably made you touch it.
|This is what my port looks like when it's accessed. The orange stuff |
is some sort of hypoallergenic something-something, but I still end up
with a pretty wicked rash from the adhesive.
PFT's (Pulmonary Function Tests) are done the day I'm admitted, one week into my stay and then again on the day I'm discharged from the hospital. Blood labs are drawn on the day of admittance, then several times throughout my stay to check drug levels.
(Side note: they can never send someone in to draw my blood at a decent time, it's always between the hours of midnight and 6:00 am. I realize a lot of this has to do with the time that my medications are administered, but still, it's annoying. I'm not a fan of being woken up at any hour. When someone is waking me up to stick a needle in my arm, I'm even less pleased.... and oftentimes incredibly confused. I'm fairly certain the gentleman who came in to draw my blood last night/early this morning thought he'd walked in on an exorcism. I woke with a start when he flipped on my lights, then let out a hideous moan/roar as I stretched and rubbed my eyes, angrily mumbling something about my sheets being on fire. If you think I'm dramatic when I'm awake, you should see me when I'm still half asleep.)
Since I'm usually in the hospital for 10-14 days, it makes sense to take advantage of my time here by taking care of any other tests or appointments that may be necessary. My doctors will frequently schedule things like Dexa Scans, glucose tolerance tests, hearing tests (some of the antibiotics are known to cause hearing loss, just one of the many fun side-effects) or visits with the ENT.
One of my very favorite things about hospital stays are the visitors I get! Being in the hospital gives me the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family members who live nearby and I don't otherwise have the chance to see very often.
And believe it or not, if you're in the right company and know where to look, you can actually find some pretty fun things to do in the hospital!
|I'm not really sure how to |
explain this one...
A moment of weakness, maybe?
|Morgan and my sweet nephews|
|Three of my cousins that I grew up with all came to visit. |
We were going for a somber/slightly creepy look.
I think we nailed it.
|IV pole races!|
(This was taken during one of my
stays earlier this year.)
|Morgan asks to see them each and every time she comes to the hospital|
|Cruisin' the hallways with my little love|
(I think it's important to note that while I do try to make the best of it, the hospital is not all fun and games. I don't want to diminish in any way the struggles that other people are going through here. Usually when I come in, I'm sick enough that the first several days are spent in bed while my body tries to heal. I'm fortunate enough that I usually respond very well to the medications and can get back on my feet by the end of the first week.
Then there are times like this one that I feel pretty darn good even when I'm admitted, but my PFTs have dropped enough that I need to come in for treament before it gets ugly. It's times like these that this place is a little less scary and I get to experience the fun parts of being in the hospital.)