Jenni’s wise advice for your next hospital stay

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

My lovely friend Jenni gave all of us all quite a scare last month when she became very ill, was taken to hospital by ambulance, and then needed to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She’s safe and sound at home now, thank goodness, and recovering nicely. She recently decided to e-mail us this update on her condition. But what made me laugh out loud was her list of three important warnings based on what she learned during her hospital experience. With Jenni’s permission, I’m sharing them here for the benefit of any women who may be heading into hospital soon. Take notes, ladies . . .   

“I just can’t thank everyone enough for all the calls, e-mails, cards, visits, gifts, flowers and food over the past few days – I am blessed to have so many wonderful women in my life. 

“I am rallying quickly (this worries Mike as he has been loving all the food!) This morning we went out for coffee, although I couldn’t quite stare down a coffee cup.  Then we went for about a 25-minute walk, me at half-speed asking Mike to slow down . . . and it felt great!  The pain is minimal, my energy is starting to come back and my appetite is surfacing – life is good!

“Now, after being in the hospital and having my mother’s voice inside my head to make sure I had clean underwear on “in case I had to go to the hospital” (do you remember those nuggets of wisdom?) – I have some additional advice for you:

1.  Always make sure that your legs and pits are shaved.  I am really tardy here, and in the winter months I can stretch for a couple of weeks before I think about shaving.  So, imagine my embarrassment to see my lily-white stick legs hanging out the end of my oh-so-tasteful hospital gown, and the young male medical student examining said legs for edema.  Oh God.

2.  Continually get rid of rogue hairs on upper lip, chin and neck The young nurses today don’t need glasses or a magnifying mirror to see these errant hairs – they just see them when they look at you from about 10 feet away.  I still can’t get over the vision of the three hags in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

3.  Always make sure that ears are free of wax and belly buttons are fluff-free.  I am totally hoping that this was the case for me, as laparoscopic surgery uses the navel. I hope that the operating staff didn’t have to go lint picking – how embarrassing.  And, where have I been all these years?  I thought that my temperature would be taken via my mouth – not so!  They have this smart little gizmo that measured my temperature in my ear in about five seconds!

“So girls, our mothers were right. It is good to have clean underwear – and let’s ramp that up to panties that have some elastic, with no holes or stains.  I am going to purge my underwear drawer after this!

“Thanks again all – and the biggest of hugs around,

Love,  Jenni”


Q: What’s your own best piece of advice to get ready for a hospital stay?


12 thoughts on “Jenni’s wise advice for your next hospital stay

  1. I agree with Jenni, and the first thing I actually posted on FB after the heart attack & my stay at the hospital was “always have nicely shaved legs from now on”…

    One more tip: have a list of items ready for the family to bring over. I live alone with my son (daughter at uni), and the night I had a h/a, my son was asked to get a few things for me to bring in to hospital the following day… He brought: a toothbrush, no toothpaste, a few pairs of shorts/summer PJs but no tops, socks and bras (that I wasn’t allowed to wear anyway… no pants). The hospital gave me some soap, shampoo and a towel. The thing I missed the most and eventually got on day 4 was an antiperspirant stick -I felt human again from that day only!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karyn! Your son’s packing list is hilarious! Speaking of shaving your legs… When I was at Mayo in 2008, we were discussing this over breakfast one morning (we were all heart attack survivors). A woman at our table was describing having her second heart attack at home, and awaiting the ambulance paramedics after her hubby had called 911. Her husband returned to the living room with his coat on, ready to go, only to find his wife in the bathroom, one leg perched up on the toilet seat, shaving her legs! “I can’t go to the ER with these hairy legs!!!” she explained… Priorities!!


  2. Jenni is one funny gal. This is SUCH good advice!! You just never know when that ambulance siren you hear is heading for your house!! Be prepared, as Jenni says. Thanks for this. 🙂


    1. Amen to that, Lora! Personally, I’d like to see a ‘no visitors’ policy except for immediate family. I found visitors to be utterly exhausting while I was in hospital – as well-meaning as they were!


  3. Too funny! Have to admit, as a heart patient of many angioplasties, keeping trim “down there” may also be a good idea! :o)


    1. Sheeeesh. Pretty soon I won’t have time to even leave the house . . . And I just noticed that I could use a pedicure, too. You just never know if today will be THE DAY!


    1. Jenni has a delightful – and hilarious! – worldview even when wearing that “oh-so-tasteful” hospital gown.


  4. Jenni is so right. Love her advice. Us busy ladies. . . And moms especially. . . do not always take time for ourselves. I was especially thankful on the day of my certainly unexpected angiogram when I was nicely shaven for the medical staff, but this is certainly not always the case.


    1. Thanks Deb – it’s so funny that we are self-conscious about these things even in the middle of life-threatening medical crises! 😉


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