The following are frequently asked questions and answers. If your question is not listed here, please ask your nurse or attending trauma surgeon.
Can I get more pain medicine?
Ask your nurse. He or she will give you more pain reliever if your treating physicians have ordered it. If needed, your nurse will contact the team to see if new orders need to be written for more medication. We do not want you to be in pain! Please understand, though, that modern pain relievers have important side effects (like causing constipation, and weakening breathing) that must be considered when we choose doses of pain medication. Everybody is different, so we will work with you to find pain medication that makes you comfortable, but doesn’t slow your recovery.
What are all these tubes?
Feel free to ask your nurse or doctor! You may have one or more of the following:
- A bladder catheter (also called a “Foley”). This allows your bladder to empty, without you having to go to the restroom. Also, it allows us to carefully measure the amount of urine your body is making. Sometimes, the catheter can make you feel like you have to urinate. Usually this feeling passes within a few hours. If you are concerned, ask your nurse.
- An intravenous line (also called an IV). This may be in your arm, your groin or your neck. It lets us give you fluids or medication directly into the bloodstream.
- A stomach tube (also called a nasogastric or “NG tube”). Your stomach makes several pints of fluid each day, and if your intestines are not yet functioning normally, this tube will safely remove the stomach fluid. Without it, the fluid will build up and you will vomit.
- A chest tube. This tube usually comes out of your side, and drains fluid or air from the chest cavity around your lung. It is attached to a special container on the floor, which may be attached to suction coming out of the wall of your room.
- A drain (which may be called a “JP”, a “Blake”, or other names). These drains are placed during surgery to help the body remove blood or other fluids from the surgical site.
Why can’t I eat or drink?
Many patients’ food and liquid intake is restricted in the hospital. There are several reasons why your doctors may have restricted your intake:
- If you are having surgery in the next 12 hours, it is very important that your stomach be empty when anesthesia is given. Having even a little food or liquid in your stomach puts you at risk for aspirating (breathing) stomach contents into your lungs.
- If your stomach or intestines are not working normally, they may not be ready for food or liquids, even if your mouth feels dry and you feel thirsty. Your nurse can help you keep your mouth moist, and intravenous fluids will help with the feeling of thirst.
How can I get some sleep?
Sleep is important to healing. Unfortunately, in the hospital, noise, interruptions, discomfort and anxiety can make a good night’s sleep seem impossible. However, we can help. Talk to your doctors and nurses about your sleep. Once we find out how you are sleeping, we can often coordinate our care so that several hours of uninterrupted rest is possible. At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we have designated 2-4 p.m. as Siesta Time. During these hours, the staff will make every effort to keep noise at a minimum so that you rest. Also, we can prescribe a sleeping aid if needed.
How will I pay for my care?
The Customer Service Unit for MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Patient Financial Services can explain billing to you. Please visit Billings and Records.
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