How to Survive a Hospital Visit – OBHF Podcast Ep. 11

How to Survive a Hospital Visit

It helps to keep a sense of humor when you're in the hospital.

One of the important lessons our son learned this summer was how to survive a hospital visit. It was his first since being born, so he had a few things to learn. Hospitals can be scary places when you’re an adult, but as a teen it can seem overwhelming.

I was determined to use the opportunity to teach our son how to survive a hospital visit.

Indra wrote about the paperwork you need to have in place before you teen heads to college so that medical workers and doctors will even talk to you about your kid’s condition. See once they turn 18 they legally can’t talk to you, unless you’ve had your kid sign the right waiver (blame HIPPA). Head over to read about the legal documents you need and why your kid needs a patient advocate if you live far away.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Why it’s important to coach your kid to ask doctors questions
  • Leaving your almost-18-year-old in the hospital overnight
  • Ensuring your medical paperwork is right before your kid leaves for college
  • Tips for teaching your kid how to survive a hospital
  • And more…

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If you like what you’re hearing, please give us a positive rating on Apple, it makes a difference. And thanks for listening!

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  • How to Survive a Hospital Visit Transcript - OBHF Podcast Ep.11

    Siri:A pneumothorax is an abnormal collection of air filled in the space between the lungs and the chest wall, do you want me to keep reading?

    Paul M Bowers: Oh sure.

    Siri:Symptoms, typically include sudden or sharp one sided chest pain and shortness of breath in minority of cases the amount of air in the chest increases when a one way Val is formed by an area of damage tissue leading to the tension of pneumothorax. This symptom can cause an even worsen oxygen shortage, blood pressure.


    [Singing: Our Bird Has Flown]


    Paul M Bowers: Hello and welcome again to the Our Bird Has Flown podcast, from the Dusty Urban Ham Shack studio of WBQ6WD lit by a single Edison bulb hanging from a cord from the ceiling. My name is [sing: Paul M Bowers].

    Thank you ladies and I’m your host for the Our Bird Has Flown podcast.

    The first thing we need to take care of is our sponsors and this Our Bird Has Flown podcast is proud to be sponsored by the National Conflict Resolution Center or NCRC and their extensive program and mediation conflict resolution and training. NCRC works with thousands of individuals across the globe to help resolve conflicts from all levels of society, through its unique and effective training programs and I’ve been a part of it.

    Nation Conflict Resolution Center also offers mediation services for the public, legal community, divorce mediations for individuals and families, conflict resolution service for community based disputes. NCRC just launch their new community restorative circles, join a community restorative circle near you and be a part of the conversation that tackles tough issues while promoting, community cohesion and boy do we need some of that, check it out at They are a great organization and we thank them for their sponsorship of the Our Bird Has Flown podcast.

    So today, as you might have heard in the intro, we are going to talk a little bit about pneumothorax, we are going to talk a little bit about taking your teen to the hospital and in doing so I want to be absolutely sure there are families that have teens that have chronic issues that are going to the hospital all the time. I don’t want to diminish those by telling our singular stories. These folks are heroes and they take care of their kids all the time and along comes a smart ass son on the podcast and we have a relatively minor issue and I am going to diminish those with chronic issues and thanks for paying attention to that.

    So I was returning from a motorcycle journey and I started talking to Jesse on the phone and he said; “you know what dad my cough has changed” and he had a cough for a week I guessed but he said it has changed and it’s like a dry hack or something. So I said off you go, go contact the physician’s assistant that we go to.

    Well we began to see our internist, he makes an appointment and he texted me back, I have pneumothorax. Now a couple of things occured to me. First, Jesse is a certified diver and I knew he hadn’t been diving and that’s when I’m familiar with pneumothorax but then I thought well, he’s texted me and its autocorrected pneumonia to pneumothorax and I don’t know why it would but there’s got to be an explanation so, I texted back and said: “you mean pneumonia?” Nope pneumothorax and as you heard from the definition at the top of the show pneumothorax is a bubble in plural cavity adjacent to the lung and I got there, you know, apparently these tall skinny teen males can get these things and they can become chronic and they can appear fairly often.

    But nevertheless Jesse got one and so he had to go to the ER and I’m driving back from Las Vegas and give him my best council as I always do – hey go home, then shower, then get in soft clothes, soft comfortable clothes and give yourself a nice pair of socks that you like, load your kindle with books and I’ll pick you up and we will go. Meanwhile Indra routed from her office and I drove up in the truck from Vegas and I got out of the truck and I got those folks and got into the other car and drove over to the ER and they got over to the ER and [sigh!] it’s a typical ER kind of a thing, hurry up, wait, they kept him for a few days, the first day they kept him overnight an oxygen and this is our bird’s first experience in a hospital stay other than the one when he was born.

    And because I’m a stay at home dad and I irritate my wife constantly by saying; “everything is a learning opportunity” I take the opportunity to teach him how to be in the hospital, how to ask questions from physicians, how to kind of let them know where you’re at so that they can best assist you in the best way that they can and we had  tremendous care for him, it was really terrific.

    For example; I had to teach him, a practitioner came into the room, introduces themselves and offers to shake hands, there’s a decision there and that decision is a split between germ phobia or the realistic understanding that there’s a lot of germs that flow around in the hospitals, or they just want to get to know you better and every person that came in introduced themselves and offered to shake hands and that’s fine but I wanted Jesse to know that, that’s a decision and he can easily say I prefer not to shake hands because we are in a hospital and it’s not the best thing to do.

    They kept him on oxygen overnight and at some point we had to decide are we going to stay there or are we going to go home. We live about a mile away, really not a big deal and I told Indra that we are going home she said;” but we have to stay with him,” no we don’t, the kid is almost 18 years old. Next time he goes into the hospital we are not likely to be around. He’s going to be in some foreign country or he’s going to be all the way across the country, we need to teach him how to do this, we gather up our stuff and off we go. We leave him alone, now we leave him alone with his phone while he’s communicating to everybody he knows and he’s doing okay, he’s got a 100% oxygen saturation, it’s not a big deal except they are hoping that the pneumothorax will resolve itself. In fact it did not.

    So the next day he had to go in and he had to have the surgery and the surgery is very minor at this point. They had to insert a tube through the third and fourth rib or something like this and then guide the tube up into the bubble into the plural cavity, they attached a little vacuum, they suck it out hopefully then the lung expands to fill that void. They keep a little bit of suction on the tube for a day or so then they cap it off and they cap it off very carefully to make sure that he doesn’t go like a balloon that is tied, across the room.

    Eventually they removed the tube. Now, it was sort of painful and Jesse is very nervous in the hospital anyway, he hates needles and when we go to have the procedure we go down with him and it’s done in something like an x-ray theatre, because they need to see what they are doing while they’re doing it, so he’s really upset. Wow! What’s going on? These needles, he’s worried, he’s got something in his arms already because they established a pick line or something. So the nurse was very kind and she said; tell you what I’ll give you half of the anaesthesia that you’re going to have, I’ll give half of it to you now.

    So Indra and I got to see our son’s first experience well, that’s as far as we know, his first experience with hard drugs in particular Dilaudidwhich is a pretty serious drug. We were standing there holding his hands and he gets the injection and he’s looking at us like when is this going to take place, what is happening, will I feel it, what’s going on because I’m not feeling anything and I don’t understand how soon will this; wow! my feet are out of focus. The smile comes across his face, he looks like the joker from the Batman series and you can have a look at it. Indra wrote a great article about patient advocacy on ourbirdhasflown.comso check it out, there’s a photo of me giving Jesse a thumbs up while he’s still high.

    So we roll him in there and he goes into surgery and we, of course, have to wait and speaking of waiting, it’s time to talk about our other sponsor of the Our Bird Has Flown podcast and this time it’s Green Fresh Florals, . Say hi to Carlos Franco, he’s our friend, he’s the creative genius behind Green Fresh Florals and it has been one of San Diego’s leading floral designs for decades. For weddings, parties, corporate events or just flowers for someone special in your life Green Fresh Florals should be your first call at 619-544-0504.

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    So where were we? He was in the surgery, we wait, it’s got to be fifteen minutes later at the most, he’s rolling out, he’s still a little loopy but he’s conscious and they have a tube in him and they say it was all successful and they roll him back up to his room and he was really sleepy so we go back home and we check in with him later on. Everything is fine and after a few days he’s feeling much better. There’s a lot of physician and care givers involved in this process and the doctors will show up and, I’m from a medical family my dad was a physician, my mom was a nurse, well I think he still is but that their licenses have expired. But any way, I can be dispassionate about these medical things, I’ve seen it a lot and I’m pretty well trained by them not to worry about these things too much. It doesn’t mean that I’m not concerned for his health but what it means is I believe that he needs somebody solid in his corner that isn’t upset by all this so I can help him understand what to do.

    So the doctors come in and they want to bring them, oh yeah, we are going to do this and we are going to do that and we’ll see you. And I always encourage ‘J’ I say Jesse, you have other questions for this doctor don’t you? I do? Yes, you do and so I walk him through the questions he really wanted to ask but he feels like their power differential, particularly when you’re that young, you have to get over that in order to do appropriate health care, so once he started asking these questions the physicians were all great. They tell him what was going on, even though they didn’t anticipate that a 17and ¾ years old kid would have had pneumothorax. So gradually he got comfortable in the environment, he could ask for things, he could ask questions that he felt were important and by the time he left he was doing pretty well.

    But one of my big concerns was opioids and some pain involved in what he had and I’m looking on the board and there’s hydro this and oxy that and having recently graduated from a District Attorney program here locally, the problems and issues affected by criminal opioid addiction is of course really big and I thought, we have to get him out of this hospital without becoming an addict [Laughter].

    So I worried about this stuff but there really, really wasn’t a need, he got out of the hospital and we didn’t even fill the pain killer prescription that he had but overall it went smoothly and we are all very pleased about that, but I encourage you to look at the post that Indra wrote on There’s questions on what happens when your child goes off for college, who’s going to make medical decisions for them, who’s going to guide the process if they’re unconscious or something, who decides because most college kids who turn 18 in college that’s a radically different thing, that the parents are out the picture.

    Be sure that you look at the forms and if that’s the arrangement you have with your kid have them sign that you have access to your HIIPA docs or whatever you want to call it and that they call you and ask you what to do, if he can’t answer himself or even if he can. Is this ok? Depends on the relationship you have with your child.

    Some kids are off to college and they don’t want to see their parents again and they’re paying for themselves and its over right? But for us, you know we are going to be fairly tied to him for four years and so we have to decide on how to share that responsibility and whether he’s comfortable or not with medical information and we have a good enough relationship and I think that’s possible and he has signed that we are ready to go.

    You have a kid that’s going off to college that’s something to really look at, look at health care in general I know that the college that Jesse is going to, they have a health insurance that they want you to take as it matches with everything that they offer. Now we have health insurance from Indra’s job, so we have to prove up to the college that we have proper coverage, but that’s not our problem because we have a good policy. But here’s the thing, I want to know that if Jesse is sick he can go straight to the on-campus medical facility and he doesn’t have to search for a medical provider within the network that he’s going to have to Uber or zip car to especially if it’s something that happened in the middle of the night. I want him to be able to get on-campus medical care and still be covered to some degree financially. If something happens I want to have stuff figured out in advance. So our kid knows how to survive a hospital visit.

    Because figuring things out in advance is the kind of guy that I am [Laughter]. Well I think that is all for the Our Bird Has Flown podcast today. A couple of changes first the Our Bird Has Flown podcast is produced in house at the studios of WB6QWD lit by a single Edison bulb hanging from the cord in the center with a little pull chain switch. Our sponsors are for The Our Bird Has Flown podcast. Green Fresh Floral at greenfreshflorals.comand National Conflict Resolution Centeratncrconline.comyou can find us on ITunes and please listen and give a five-star review. We would love to have it and if you’re listening and you don’t like it then go to a movie after when you’re done or something and don’t bother with the review. Thanks for clicking in and we will see you next time.