Monday, April 8, 2013

Hospital Food

Hospital food is a mixed blessing - on one hand, it's generally available much of the day, and in many hospitals now, it's available for delivery right to your child's room.

On the other's expensive, and of mixed quality.

When Acorn and Leaf had RSV earlier this year, we were trading off who was at the hospital and who was elsewhere; the person coming in to switch shifts brought in food. K brought us dinner a couple nights too. We had a similar pattern in the fall of 2011 when both were hospitalized, just before Leaf got her trach, and the weekends we stayed at the bigger hospital with her, we brought in food in much the same way. This winter's stay made me think, "you know, we ought to write up a plan for what we're going to do about food when we're stuck here so that we can just tell someone to go shopping or go raid our pantry, and bring back X, Y, and Z."

When Acorn had his tonsils out, we almost ended up spending the night. The doctor wanted us to stay longer and make sure he was going to drink well enough; the nurses were panicky about his sats dropping very low and the amount of oxygen he needed to come back up to normal. In the end, we went home on oxygen, because the doctor knew us well enough to know we would be fine at home, but that was long after we'd bought lunch and eaten in the recovery room waiting for transport to the floor, and not before we'd started making plans for someone to go retrieve dinner.

So, that had me thinking again about what an emergency food run would look like for a hospital stay, and I figured I'd share with you all.

First, of the three hospitals we have doctors at, we only will allow for inpatient stays at two of them. Of those two, all but a few areas have a bedside cube fridge. They do not have vending machines in easy reach of the rooms - one has them on the same floor but out in the lobby, and the other has them on some floors out in the entry, but not on all. Too far to walk unless a child is napping (and for us to be inpatient usually involves a child who's not well enough to wander the halls without a mask, and of course mine won't wear masks).

Both hospitals have microwaves available on the floor. And silverware and plates, if need be, though I think it may be worth setting up a stash of plates and plastic ware here at the house for someone to grab. They also have cups, straws, and ice readily available. Both have coffee and milk easily available too.

Acorn is pretty picky when it comes to eating, so if he's inpatient, we've found that it's worth packing in some things he will eat - multigrain or honey nut cheerios for example. His Boost is another good choice - he'll drink it under almost any circumstances, and at 360 calories and 1/4 of his daily vitamin and mineral needs per juice box, it's a reasonable substitute for food when he's not interested in eating.

Leaf subsists mostly on purees and formula. We know the closer hospital doesn't carry her formula, so we need to pack that if she's inpatient.

That leaves food for us adults.

For breakfast, something easy, like muffins or bagels is probably the best choice. They store and transport well, and we can eat them whenever we're up.

For everything else, our best so far has been sandwiches. A loaf of bread, some cheese, and some lunchmeat will last a fair number of meals. Chips of some sort, individual sized fruit cups, and some soda make the second most useful batch of foodstuffs.

For slightly longer stays, prewashed lettuce, tomatoes (and a good knife), croutons and salad dressing, grapes, and other snackable foods make a good addition. Lettuce and tomatoes can go on sandwiches or become salads. Fresh fruits and nuts make good snacks too.

And in the end, we can eat fairly healthy all from the confines of a hospital room, without breaking the bank.

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