My father has been in Bert Fish ICU for two weeks, as we go into week three I have some unsolicited advice on navigating the Hell that dealing with all this is.
First the nurses are your new best friends. Most of the information you get will be from them, don't be afraid to ask them questions.If you want to catch a doctor get there early. They make rounds early and it is often hard to see them otherwise. Refer back to the nurses are your best friends, they know more about what is happening on a day to day basis.
Make sure you know what your family member wants, how do they want their life to end. If they do not want to be put on machines make sure you have the proper paperwork completed so that their wishes are met. Sitting around here for two weeks, I have seen dying people on ventilators because either no one knows what they want or won't let go...and sadly even a few who don't have anyone to speak for them. Get your own affairs in order. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Be realistic and don't be selfish. Yes, you want your family member to get better and walk out of the hospital, so do I. If that is not going to happen don't prolong their suffering because you don't want to let them go. Make them comfortable and happy. Does it really matter if someone who is dying eats salt on their eggs? Probably not...a big, fat filled chocolate milkshake can be the best medicine ever.
Be prepared to sit...and wait...a lot. Bring your iPad, laptop, smartphone, a book...something to do or you will go crazy. You might go crazy anyway but at least you will be well informed on what your friends are doing on Facebook and Twitter.
Ask for help. So many friends say to us, what can I do? They really mean it, tell them what they can do...some days I have no idea, but when I do I let them do it...when I don't they just show up. Which is fantastic.
ICU nurses, Donna, Stephany, Melody, Eric. Diane and all the night nurses whose names I don't know. Nina, Rose and the people at the desk who open the locked doors for me 14 times a day. You are all fabulous and are making a crappy situation much easier. I thank you and my family thanks you.
Finally, a friend sent me this article from the New Yorker yesterday. It is long but worth the time to read.
The New Yorker
I hope you never need this information, sadly chances are many of you will.