#HospitalHack 4 – Three Point Plan

#HospitalHack 4 – Three Point Plan

This hack is especially important while your child is nauseous!

The three point plan is simple:

At any time, have three vomit bags visible.

You never know when you’ll need it!


#HospitalHack 3 – Footwear

#HospitalHack 3 – Footwear

What happens in hospital, stays in hospital.

  • Requirements:
    • Warm feet
    • Footwear that’s easy to take on and off to get in and out of bed
  • Solution:
    • Socks
    • Thongs

I’m not the only one, when lining up at the trough food cart I looked down, a mum in the next room was doing the same.. Great conversation starter!


#HospitalHack 2 – Pollyanna Positivity Principle

Doing the cancer walk with your child is not all roses.. It’s tough! It’s hard to stay positive and look at the upside. As per a previous post, attitude is transferable, if you’re feeling one way, your child picks up on that and runs with it too. So in this Hospital Hack I share how I (try to) stay positive.

While in hospital we’ve watch a lot of movies, it’s a great way to pass time with your little one. Anyhow while watching the 1960 classic Pollyanna something struck me as a good thing to do, The Glad Game. It’s as simple as finding something to be glad about, no matter what the circumstances. Pollyanna plays this game when everyone is whinging about it being Sunday, she says she’s glad it’s another 6 full days until it’s Sunday again.

Another movie we’ve watched together is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. My favourite quote in that movie is “You gotta have bad days so you love the good days even more

In Michael Crossland’s book Kids Don’t Get Cancer has a similar concept where a kid taught him that “It could be worse” where he looks at what could be worse.

Finding a positive has to be a universal truth, the preacher in Pollyanna says there are 820+ “glad” verses in the bible. I’m not about to go and check, but the one verse that comes to mind is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Update 14 May: It’s amazing how some things just keep appearing. The JW’s came to our door this morning and the Awake magazine they handed out has a great article on postitive attitudes. I think they’ve encapulated some good ideas on why it’s a good idea to keep positive.

Update April 2017: I didn’t realise the Pollyanna Principle was actually a “thing” (also called Pollyannaism or positivity bias), slightly different than what I’m talking about, but Wikipedia has more detail.

#HospitalHack 1 – Coffee

I love coffee, and it’s awesome the hospital provides coffee, of the Blend 43 variety. I’m not a coffee snob, but Blend 43 doesn’t count. Well, Blend 43 counts if you really need caffeine, then it’s bearable, only as a double shot with sugar (ok, that’s a little snobbish, and I feel a little bad knowing it’s roasted down the road). Anyhow, my preferred coffee is an small (8oz) double shot skinny latté with no sugar. I do like it slightly bitter, so if there’s a choice of coffee shops I’ll hunt to find a blend I like.

Here’s the dilemma; how do you get a fresh espresso, stay bedside to comfort your 6 year old and catch vomit at the same time? Yes, you could just run out and get one and clean up the mess later, but it’s a rare occurrence Violet is in a condition that would allow us to leave. Yes, you could start a coffee cart business in the hospital, but I’m sure there would be some sort of rule/legislation against that. Most of the time you wait for a visitor to relieve you or go the Blend 43 route.

The answer? Cold Brew! With 10-15 minutes preparation, 12-18 hrs in the fridge you can make a great tasting coffee faster than a vomit.

With some experimentation I’ve found the perfect drop. So how do I brew it:

  • Place 125g course ground beans in a large coffee plunger/French press.
  • Slowly pour 1.25L of cold water over beans.
  • Cover and place in the fridge.
  • Wait 12-18 hours (I usually make it at about 3pm then plunge at 7am)
  • Plunge and pour into 1L bottle

The brew easily lasts a week in the fridge (depending on how big your habit is)

To make the perfect cup, I get a small glass and mix 2/3rds cold brew and 1/3rd milk. Yes I drink it cold!

Cold brew isn’t for everyone, it is a slightly different flavour, but one I like. Colleen, not as much, she’s taken another route and is happy to bring her Moccona to hospital, get “boiling” water (avoiding styrofoam cups) then reheat in the microwave.

Things I’ve tried:

  • Beans – different beans produce different results; espresso blends tend to make the mix bitter and doesn’t need to be brewed as long. I’ve also tried using more/less beans:water ratio and settled on above.
  • Bean Preparation – the toddy system says to gently layer water and beans, I found no benefit
  • Time – the longer it’s brewed, the more bitter the result, I’ve found 12-18 hours is the sweet spot.
  • Water – although some people have taken this to the next level. I’ve tried tap water and cooled boiled water, I find water out of the fridge the best fit.
  • Heat – I read that you can heat the coldbrew before drinking to give the traditional expresso taste; I disagree, I think it changes the flavour for the worse
  • Milk – I’ve tried without milk and different ratios, for my tastes the 1/3 milk ratio is perfect

You know you’re a father of a 6yo girl with cancer when…

Over the last few months of being at hospital I’ve created a list of things that indicate I’ve got a girl with cancer:

  1. Vomit bags decorate the house
  2. You can talk the medication lingo Ondanse, Max, Dex, Loraz, Oxy, Lasix, Cyclo, Vinc, Dox, Cisplat …
  3. Don’t go to the beach or swimming as you know the central line can’t get wet
  4. A ‘day pack’ now includes a medications you know the ED don’t regularly carry
  5. You know your childs’ name, date of birth and allergy status
  6. It’s not uncommon or uncomfortable to have conversations about wee poo and vomit (much like when you have a baby)
  7. You know how to be a patient patient, you’ve jumped the queue before when things were serious, so you know why there are people ahead of you.
  8. Much patience and flexibility is required to get your child to do what you want (choose your battles, look for distraction/rewards, give limited choice)
  9. You know your childs’ name, date of birth and allergy status
  10. You know your childs hospital ID(UR) number
  11. You not only know all her stuffed toys names, but their attitudes
  12. Know that sometimes it’s easier to hook up NG feeding than have the one hour I’m hungry but I don’t know what I want conversation
  13. Have a hospital day bag always half packed ready to go
  14. Have a check list of the things not to forget for a hospital day trip
  15. You know your childs’ name, date of birth and allergy status
  16. Know that the car park full sign means you’ve still got 90% chance of finding a park (even if it takes 15 minutes to find it)
  17. Drink sensibly and keep under the limit, in case you have to drive back to hospital
  18. Know what is like to sit in the back seat of your car
  19. Can scan a room full of kids, pick out the one with a runny nose and divert your child from going anywhere near them
  20. Know that it takes at lest 2 hospital ‘towels’ to dry yourself
  21. Wash your hands before, during and after eating
  22. You have a three vomit bags in site at all times
  23. Stickers, the prize box and playdoh are currency
  24. Know the smell of an antibiotic wee
  25. Eat smelly food outside the room.. Unless you don’t mind catching vomit while eating.
  26. Don’t eat spicy food, just in case the after effects cause …vomiting
  27. Are skilled at the art of waking from a deep sleep, jumping out of bed and catching vomit
  28. Think you’re good at ‘biting your tongue’ when you’re tired and cranky and have an opinion on return everything
  29. You know that you can’t play Happy Chef in the iPad when she’s nauseous
  30. You know the difference between a cough and a the start of a vomit … ahh.. No, no you can’t
  31. Paper towel is the official note paper of nurses
  32. You can cook bacon and eggs on an underpowered sandwich toaster without fire alarms going off
  33. Blend 43 tastes ok if it’s double shot with two sugars and you really really, really need to be caffeinated
  34. Have no trouble discussing a bowel motions and what a poonami and overflow is with the doctors
  35. Can flick a vomit bad open on one movement of the wrist
  36. Just like camping… Use a cup if you forgot the bowl; a spoon makes an ok fork if you can’t find one
  37. As with everywhere.. Build a relationship with the receptionist and cleaner, they are valuable people to know

This is the start of my #HospitalHack series of posts, over the coming weeks/months I hope to share how I’ve made our hospital admissions a little more bearable.