Tips for RA Hospital Stays

Marianna Paulson | Apr 6th 2016 Apr 11th 2017

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There may be a time when you have to be hospitalized due to some complication from RA. You may need a joint replacement, joint fusions, or some other RA-related procedure. When you have rheumatoid arthritis, a hospital stay can be more challenging. Here are some tips to make your stay a little more comfortable.

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Transform your stress

The earlier you learn and practice stress techniques, the better it is for you. Stress can affect you emotionally, mentally, and physically. It triggers the inflammatory response, and dampens natural killer cell cytotoxic activity. (NK cells affect the immune system and provide protection from viral infections and cancer cells.) With less stress, you may be able to improve your recovery time.

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What makes your heart sing?

If possible, the day before your surgery, do something that makes your heart sing. Visit your favorite park, have lunch at that restaurant that serves tantalizing meals, watch a funny movie, or spend time with a friend whose friendship you value. Not only will you take your mind off your worries, but you’ll also benefit by dousing the fire of stress.

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Create a home away from home

It’s often the small things that bring a sense of comfort when you are away from home. Personalize your hospital stay with some of your favorite products like hand lotion, facial cleanser, and lip gloss. Dependent upon the type of procedure you’re having, you might like to bring your own sleepwear and slippers or slip-on shoes. A book, magazines, or phone can provide some necessary diversion.

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Make your bed

Hospital mattresses and pillows are covered in a non-breathable, easy-to-clean material that is far from comfortable, especially if you are sensitive to such items. It can make a huge difference on the type of rest you get. Consider bringing your favorite pillow and some extra pillow-cases. A sheepskin, or folded flannelette sheet under the bottom sheet can lessen the sticky, hot feeling of the mattress.

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Communication is key

Not everyone who works in a hospital is familiar with the needs of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to let your caregivers know what you need. For example, you may need to squeeze a thick bottle when blood is drawn. Extra pillows may be required to support aching limbs. Do you need help to get the protective covers off your meals? If the staff doesn’t know, they can’t help you.

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Recovery

Follow the recovery procedures as outlined by your surgeon. This can include the type of exercises you’re allowed to do before and after your surgery and the schedule for your pain medications and check-ups. Adhere to a nutritious diet or if required, a special diet. Drink plenty of water. Ensure you take adequate rest periods. If you’re experiencing problems, be sure to follow-up with your doctor.

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Visitors

Surgery can take a lot out of you. While visitors can help distract you from the pain, they may also prevent you from getting adequate rest, particularly if they stay too long. Short and more frequent visits help to break up the day without being too tiring. Let your visitors know what sort of gifts will help or hurt you. If you can, communicate your needs prior to your hospital stay.

NEXT: How Effective Is Your RA Treatment?
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