I knew what it was like to take a child to the emergency room and I also knew what it was like to have someone you love admitted to the hospital. I thought I knew a lot about medical care until a year ago when my daughter spent five days in the PICU.
PICU stands for Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Most full-service children’s hospitals will have a floor that is specifically for intensive care patients. I think for most when anyone hears “intensive care unit,” they know that patient’s condition is serious. That is all I knew before my child was in the PICU for the five days. Come to find out, there was so much more to know and learn about the PICU rules and care environment.
Besides the fact that my child was very sick, we were in this tiny room with no privacy. Yes, I wanted the 1:2 nurse/patient ratio and monitoring, but for a stressed-out mommy, it was hard not having a place I could have a private conversation and just vent without leaving my child.
The rules on visitors will vary but when my daughter stayed, only two people could be in the room at a time. Another very hard rule for me was the “no eating in the room” rule. I could have a drink in her room with a lid, but no food. That meant I had to leave her bedside to eat. This was difficult for me to do, but I had to eat, so I did, very quickly.
The absolute worst part was that the rooms did not have their own bathrooms. I am a “middle of the night potty user.” Getting up when I was beyond exhausted to find a bathroom down an unfamiliar and long hallway, was very difficult.
The PICU is designed for the maximum level of patient care and attention. That means it operates very differently from a regular hospital unit. It takes some adjustment and flexibility on our part when our child is a patient there. So, I suggest you find out the rules and figure out the best way for you and your family to meet them while your child is receiving care in the Unit. We did make it through the experience and I am hoping that is it for a very long time!
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