Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 236 - everything you wanted to know about warm blankets

I realized this afternoon when I stepped out of the shower and grabbed my hot from the dryer towel that I have not yet written on the vital subject of warm blankets. It turns out that chemo, losing weight, anemia and infections are all things that make people feel cold. I almost always felt chilled even before I got leukemia so you can imagine how I felt during the worst of the treatment. Anyone reading this who lived through last summer in New England will for sure remember how it as a summer with a long stretch of over 100 degree days. During all of those days, Dr. Hill felt it was best for me to stay inside for infectious reasons so I did not partake. There was a night when the air conditioning broke and honestly, it was a little muggy, but I don't recall minding it.
At any rate, there were plenty of times when I was really cold and people would bring me a warm blanket. The first rule of warm blankets is do not ever decline if one is offered to you. They're so nice, you want one even if you think you don't. There was more than once that I would say "no thanks" and then get to thinking about how nice it would be and end up pressing my button to get someone to bring me one.
The second thing to know about warm blankets is how to maximize their potentials, i.e., how to distribute the blankets. We'll go back a step and I will mention that if you are going to spend any time in the hospital, bring a blanket from home. Hospital blankets are heavy and not warm. Also, they slip off the bed easily and get tangled up in most unattractive and revealing ways. They're best used to augment the real blankets. My sister in law bought me a down comforter style blanket that I took every second admission and a friend made me a fabulous quilt that I took on the other admissions. Some admissions I took both. When someone brings you a warm blanket, you want to move quickly because it won't be warm long. Push or pull your top blankets down by your feet and get the warm blanket spread out as close to your body as possible (I used a single sheet between me and the blanket.) Then speedily pull the real blankets up to trap the warmth in. A lot of nurses would hem and haw after they put the warm blanket on about which of the remaining blankets they would pull up and keep and which they would remove from the room. If you do not put more blankets over the warm blanket quickly, you will not have a warm blanket anymore. If you are strong enough, figure it out ahead of time and shove the rejected blankets to the side or throw them on a chair before they even unfold the warm blanket.
This would be a good time to mention that I also recommend bringing your own pillow. I had my pillow in a home pillow case with the hospital case over it because at times there was a lot of sweating too. Then you could switch it out easily, but always have a pillow case if it slipped out of the hospital one.
As long as we are on bed tips in the hospital, the hospital mattresses are covered in plastic so they are really not that comfy even after there are sheets on them. What the LNAs did for me was to put a bathblanket (a lighter blanket with a tighter weave than the usual blankets) over the mattress and under the bottom sheet. This was enough to insulate me from feeling like I was lying on a plastic sheet.
Here is a funny thing about sleeping in the hospital for me (trigger warning for discussion of mortality). For the first few weeks I was in the hospital, I could not bear to have my bed lie flat because it made me think of how during a code, they sometimes tip the head of your bed lower to help get blood to your brain. It scared me. (end trigger warning)
For me, for tomorrow, I will wish for courage to face what I need to. For all of us, I will wish for safe travels.

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