July 27, 2011
This past week has been a bit of an unexpected emergency. My Grandmother had been home from the hospital for only 2 or 3 hours (after monitoring some worrisome shortness of breath) when she had a small stroke right in front of us. Even though you know what’s happening it’s hard to not panic, at least a little. She’s a big age and surprisingly strong for her age but strokes are strokes. She really really didn’t want to go back to the hospital but after an hour or so of the ambulance men and my family trying to convince her of the necessity she finally agreed.
The reason I am telling you this is because my grandmother is Diabetic which means that she has to take insulin tablets everyday and follow a Sugar Free diet. Diabetes is a growing concern in the western world as sugar and fat continue to creep into all of our food, unnecessarily, filling every bite. It is also a common disease among the elderly. So one would think that hospitals, of all places, would be completely up-to-scratch when it comes to dietary needs ... Not so, it would seem.
I saw recently that some hospitals have helpful little cards hung over patients to notify the staff of dietary needs such as ‘fasting’ etc. But in the large hospital where my Grandmother was staying there was nothing of this sort. Almost every single meal she was brought had at least one item which was non-diabetic, unsuitable, sugary food. Sometimes it was sugar filled jelly, custard or even ice cream(!) for deserts. White bread with her breakfast. Jams with her tea and even cookies! The one that topped it all off for me was when they would repeatedly bring her her medication and grind up the tablets into non-diabetic yoghurt (aka sugar filled yoghurt).
I think that you would have to search hard to find a clearer example of disorganization. Luckily between my Mom and aunts there was always somebody sitting with her to remind the staff that she is diabetic and likewise they had to take back her meals and replace them almost every single time. It’s fine and was fine because her family were there to protect her and remind the staff but what about all the people who are on their own? Or all the people who are unaware, and fully trusting of the system? And what about all the patients who possibly have food allergies with severe reactions? What procedures are in place? I hate to think about it.
The nurses and hospital staff were very nice to my Grandmother and they were always apologetic and quick to replace the food but I write this today to remind everybody yet again, that you must always be on top of your game. Even when you’re sick in the hospital, no matter what your age. Even when you’re dietary needs, food allergies and/or food restrictions are completely understood ... Even when you remind people daily ... If you are not preparing it yourself you HAVE to be extremely careful and unfortunately, distrusting of all the food you are given.
It is your health, and believe me, nowhere is completely safe.