Before I share how it was like to be in hospital during coronavirus, and 5 things to know when staying in hospital in covid time, I want to give you a short back story, but don’t worry, if you don’t want to read the back story you can just jump right ahead to the next subheading, ‘Hospital In Covid Time’ 🙂
In my almost 28 years of hospital life and patient life I have never ever been hospitalised without my mum and not to mention go into surgery myself. When I was an the children’s hospital my mum would stay with me and when I was at the adult’s hospital, before coronavirus, my mum would come to the hospital in the day time and leave in the night time, but this time, there was no such thing as visitors. So it was a solo hospitalisation. Now that you’ve read my short back story so how was it like staying in the hospital in covid time?
Hospital In Covid Time
1 Can be lonely and boring.
Overall, I will say that it was fine and it wasn’t too lonely for me (having my phone on my hand helped me stay less lonely and it was the main thing that helped me connect with my family and friends). Besides my phone, the other thing that helped the fact that I like being alone sometimes too. Sometimes, I don’t mind being by myself and plus, being alone isn’t always a bad thing, so most of the time I was okay. Having said that, I did have short moments where I wished my mum and my sister was with me. It was in these short moments that I felt a tiny bit lonely. I was in hospital for 4 days and 4 nights and there will come a time when your phone is not going to keep you company anymore. That’s when I felt like wanting to talk to my mum or my sister, face to face. Despite this I didn’t feel sorry for myself. Instead, I felt sorry for my neighbour. The patient next to me was much older than I (and probably even older than the other 2 patients opposite us) and she had a lot going on. At times I would hear her say, “I want to go home” because she wanted to be with her husband as she was lonely and her husband was lonely. One time I also overheard her asking the nurse if she was bored, because she was bored too, but the nurse told her she was very busy… So hospital in covid time can be lonely and boring.
2 Can be intimidating.
Hmm, maybe the word intimidating is a bit strong, but since I’m not sure what other term to use I’ll just stick to intimidating. So the reason why it can be intimidating is because of the PPE that every health care worker has to wear and in general, the whole experience can be intimidating too. I remember when I just entered the emergency department, of course my mum and I had our masks on (my mum was there to drop me off and explain what my problem was), but also, instantly, we were surrounded by “astronauts” – people were going around with long pieces of protective plastic gowns over their bodies (sorry I don’t know what it’s called) and wearing gloves with their masks and screen shields on. It was all so serious and it felt like I was in a movie. Every single time a medical staff came to talk to me all I saw was an astronaut-like human being hovering over me. Lol! Then, when they moved me to a ward I was placed in an isolated room. Here, the door had to be closed and every single time when the staff came in I saw an “astronaut” again. At the start I noticed the nurse who was in my room was talking through a little window-like opening to talk to the other nurse who was outside the room. Although it was all very different and strange, fortunately I’ve had past experiences of being in an isolated room (but not as tense/serious), that’s why in the beginning of this point I said intimidating might be a strong word to use, because for me, personally, it wasn’t all that intimidating. But yes, maybe to someone who hasn’t been hospitalised before it can be intimidating.
3 Can lead to having a covid test.
I remember when I was being wheeled into the emergency ward/area I overheard someone say “she is high risk” or “this is high risk” and at that moment I didn’t really understand why the person said that, in my mind I was like, “Wait, what?” but later on I understood why. When I was in my room or cubicle (I was too sick to noticed what kind of place I was in) at the emergency I was involuntarily tested for coronavirus. Then, some hours later I was moved to a ‘suspected covid’ ward. It was only after I got my covid test back that the staff could chill a little and was allowed to move to another ward. This time I was in a community area and the staff was chill too. What I mean by chill is they didn’t need to wear the protective plastic gown, but the mask and screen shields were on.
Now I understand why I was a high risk in the beginning, because I have just come in from the “outside world” they wanted it for precaution (not because I had any signs or symptoms of covid). Then, when my covid test came as a negative it was safe for me to go to the ward where the patients had no coronavirus.
4 Can also mean you may need to wear a mask.
Melbournians and Victorians all know that in Melbourne everyone has to wear a mask when they are out and that includes the hospital so I needed to wear a mask when I arrived at the emergency, I needed to keep it on in the emergency ward area and I needed to wear it in between trips to another ward and to the theatre. But after my covid test came out I was able to take off my mask when I was in the ward.
5 Can create some trouble recognizing people.
Throughout this whole “adventure” one thing I thought I’d point out is despite having to see people in gowns, gloves, masks and screen shields, listening to the people’s voices helped to create that sense of normalcy and for me, it helped in recognising who is who, especially the nurses. The nurses were all wearing the same coloured uniform and their face were covered. So at one glance they all look the same. One example was when a nurse came to me, at first I thought maybe it was a new nurse because it was the next day, but when she spoke I straightaway knew that it was the same nurse from the previous day, because I recognised her voice. I don’t know how to explain it but listening to the people’s voices, because it was different for each person and human-like, it created a sense of normalcy, as I mentioned. Like, outwardly, everyone looked the same and had this astronaut-like appearance, but then when each person spoke in their own tone and in their own personal style/way, it was different and it felt a little bit more normal. Hopefully you know what I mean. Also, another thing that created a sense of normalcy was the care from the medical staffs, especially the emergency doctor, the night nurse who watched me after my procedure, the operating theatre medical team, the two gynecologists and a few others. Their care reminded me of the times before coronavirus and took me back to when things were normal and reminded me that things did not change in terms of the quality of care from the medical staffs. It was good to know that some things did not change.
So, there it is, 5 things to know about hospital in covid time. If you’d like to know why I went to the hospital you can read about it on my Blood Transfusion, Iron Infusion and Hysteroscopy post. Until then!