You’ve had enough time and experience now navigating the ins and outs of celiac disease to realize when you are out of control, your situation can rapidly deteriorate, especially with a trip to the hospital. Don’t ever let yourself assume because you are going to an institute of medical healing, you will automatically be safe. Your guard and hopefully an “enlisted” bodyguard has got to be diligent at all times to verify your safety.
- Write up several copies of a guide detailing your situation and its limitations. Include specific suggestions and instructions about foods, medicines, toiletries and anything else you may use. Provide the products themselves if there is to be any question of availability. Confirm each of your doctors, the admission nurse, head floor nurses, all relevant departments (pharmacy, kitchen and dietitians, anesthesia, physical therapy, pre and post op nurses) also all receive a copy.
- Request the front of your medical chart to be marked with LARGE bold, bright letters “Allergy”.
- Make two signs, one for the hall door and one at your bed which states “CELIAC- GLUTEN FREE ONLY
- Work with the kitchen dietitian in advance and pre-schedule your meals by determining the hospital’s capabilities to provide the foods which you need. If there will be a possible problem, request if you can bring your own food and can they supply a small refrigerator for storage.
- Be sure your enlisted “bodyguard” understands your restrictions and they are willing to carry out your wishes while you are unable to care for yourself.
- Get all of your prescriptions and any special foods in advance so everyone knows upon arrival these are the items to be used during your stay.
- Make your own hospital wristband, marking it with big bold letters ALLERGY and be sure it stays placed right alongside the hospital wristband.
- Wear some kind of medical ID bracelet or necklace at all times
In case this is an emergency situation, obviously most of these preparations will be impossible. But be sure, at your very first opportunity, either you or a designated family member contacts the kitchen dietitian and explains your circumstances. Never assume the message will get passed along by telling a nurse or aide. Many kitchen workers are not familiar with the circumstances which surrounds your allergy.
Then, after you have done everything you possibly can to ensure your safety, sit back and relax (but still remain watchful) and let them take care of your health so you can succeed in a safe hospital stay.