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  • Christina Hunt

7 Things You Should Do After A Hospital Stay When You Have a Lung Condition


Getting sick or having a flare-up can make anyone with a lung condition feel as though they have taken multiple steps back with their health. It is frustrating and upsetting to feel as though your health and wellness is slipping away from you. Take that feeling right there and multiply it by 10 when that same person with a chronic lung condition has had a hospital admittance. Often times, these hospital stays can leave a person with low energy, deconditioning, and a lack of confidence on how they should manage their lung diagnosis. Read on for a list of 7 things you should do after a hospital stay in order to regain your energy, build strength, and most importantly feel your best. (Isn’t that why you have visited my site?!)


1. Fill your new prescriptions and make a plan. Adding new medications into your routine takes a bit of organization. You should take some time to review the new medications making note how often they should be taken, if they should be taken with food, if they could cause you to be dizzy or drowsy, and what possible side effects that you could encounter that would be reason for concern. One thing that I have learned through personal experience is that the way and the time that you take each medication can really effect how you feel. If prescribed, wear your oxygen as ordered by your discharging physician. Don’t stop taking your medications, wearing your oxygen or make any major changes unless you check with your physician.


2. Get Your Rest. Yes, you have just left the hospital and have laid around for days, but have you really had a good night’s sleep? When my patients state that they were woken up repeatedly during their hospitalization I often joke…”Did you really think you were there to rest?” My intention for that statement is not to seem callus or unsympathetic, but for them to understand that the hospital is a place where you are treated and nursed back to health… not to sleep. Hard work is done during a hospital stay like repeated physical therapy, early morning lab draws to see if the physicians are making progress with medicine and therapy, as well as procedures, tests, and scans. How can anyone sleep through all that? Well now that you are home, you need to take time to rest and let your body and lungs continue to heal. Depending upon how long you were in the hospital, this can take a few days. And you know what?... It’s okay. You are entitled to take it easy and your body needs rest. If you are overtired it is hard to manage the everyday breathlessness that you experience from your lung condition.


3. Make an appointment to follow up with your physician. The follow-up appointment with your physician is an opportunity to regroup and assess why you became sick or had an exacerbation of your illness. It allows the patient and physician the ability to put a game plan together for continued recovery and prevention of a reoccurrence of your flare-up. This is valuable time to discuss your concerns and get much needed feedback. See my blog on how to maximize your pulmonary visit for tips on getting the most out of this appointment.


4. Open Your Mail. My patients often giggle when I tell them this is on their list of things to do after a hospitalization… but it’s the truth right?! After a few days rest you need to tackle some of the mental stress of life like opening your mail and paying your bills. It’s the stacking up of mundane tasks that we do every day that can wreck someone’s stress level. Pay Bills. Read and respond to emails. Return calls. One thing that these tasks have in common is they don’t require a ton of physical exertion. You sit… you do.


5. Start slow with exercise. It takes quite a bit of energy to recover from a hospitalization. You should ease into your exercise slowly, making a little more progress with each attempt. Don’t be hard on yourself for cutting back on your time and/or the speed at which you were previously exercising. This may be an opportunity for you to consider starting a new exercise routine at a gym or beginning a pulmonary rehab program. Pulmonary rehab programs are not only a great place to start an exercise routine but are invaluable when it comes to educating lung patients on how to manage their lung diagnosis. (See Pulmonary Rehab blog for more info) Strength and endurance will come over time. Commit to yourself and make exercise a priority in your weekly routine. You will be glad that you did and will see that the results will yield you more confidence and wellness.


6. Fuel your body with healthy foods. After a hospitalization it is wonderful to receive meals from loving friends and family so that you can concentrate on regaining strength by resting. However, after you have regained some energy it’s time to focus on putting the best foods into your body to help fuel your recovery. Focus on fruits and vegetables combined with lean proteins. Highly processed and fast food can cause a body to feel sluggish and bloated. Avoid carbonated drinks that can cause excess gas in the stomach which may push up on the diaphragm making you feel more short of breath. I love ordering my groceries online through Kroger’s Clicklist program. I order them 24 hours in advance through their website and then pull up at my requested timeslot and they are loaded for me. They also have delivery in my area and I have used Instacart and Shipt who will deliver groceries directly to my front door! One of the things my patients have told me is that it isn’t just the shopping that is hard… it’s bringing the groceries in from the car that is difficult. The wonderful people that shop for you at Instacart and Shipt will typically bring the groceries in to your home if you wish and place them on your countertop. Sooo convenient! There are some small fees that are incurred with these grocery delivery options but most of my patients feel as though it is well worth the money for the service. (PS. This isn’t sponsored, just advice from me to you.)


7. Think Positively. I have always believed that the mind is a powerful thing. What you tell yourself and how you view life’s challenges can set the stage for your health and wellness. There’s no question that a major flare-up or hospitalization can wreak havoc on your confidence and it’s okay to throw yourself a “pity party” from time to time to get your emotions out. However, you have to turn these experiences and emotions into learning opportunities and fuel to recover. This flare-up may not be your last but tell yourself that you have the ability and the strength to fight back.


What other things do you do after a hospitalization that helps you get back on track with your health and wellness? Feel free to leave them in the comments below so that others with lung conditions can benefit from your experience.


Thanks for reading!


Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!


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:) Christina

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