Your sense of pride and modesty change when you need help with all aspects of care and bodily functions. When celebrating the return of bowel control, my mom said that its good to finally have mastering this social skill (I think/hope the "social" part was unintentional). My therapist started giggling, noting that "Pooping should not be a social skill! That's generally something you do by yourself."
While this is funny, you don't normally think of what kind of etiquette is required for someone caring for your innards. I like to think I managed something close to grace (or as much grace as can be mastered with a virtual stranger caring for those functions). Now ask yourself, if you were in a situation where the normal day to day living that you enjoy was interrupted, how would you treat those caring for you? You may consider yourself capable of being a decent person under the worst of situations, and for the sake of those working with you, I certainly hope so.
The nurses and nurses aids who help you in these situations are the most amazing people you will ever come across. Not only are they there with you in your hour of need, they are doing tasks even you may be apprehensive about under normal circumstances. And for their sake, I always strive to be polite at the very least. Here is my top 10 list of things I've learned and suggest for anyone who spends ANY time in a hospital:
10. Be honest. If you have the slightest discomfort when someone is doing something to you, let them know. They generally won't take offense if you tell them nicely. Otherwise, they'll keep doing it. Again and again and again!
9. Be patient. These wonderful people are doing all they can to take care of everything at once (for you and a ton of other patients), so cut them some slack!
8. Be cooperative. Chances are, doctors/nurses/aids may know more than you do about your care, at least at first. See what they have to say before you tell them that they're doing it wrong.
7. Remember the details of your care. You will have multiple doctors, nurses, nurses aids, techs, and random people who just wandered in caring for you. Chances are they won't know your routine (go figure). You are your own advocate, so let them know what you routine is.
6. If you see someone for the first time that day, ask them how their day is going. If they are having a good day, then you know things with this person are going to go that much better today. If they're having a rough day... let them vent. Better they get it out of their system at the start then have it dwelling on their mind the entire time they're working with you.
5. Find out one thing about everyone! In a situation where you see 20 people every day and they switch out every few hours, you're never going to keep anybody straight if you don't have some small detail to fix to their face and personality.
4. Always say please and thank you. Your nurses and nurses aids are being paid to care for you. They're not paid to be nice. Having someone who likes you makes things just happen that much smoother.
3. Always, always, always try and remember people's names. It's not required (and if you tell them you forgot their name most likely they won't be offended) but nothing brightens your day more than someone thanking you by name.
2. Be Flexible. Things change at a moments notice. Routines are good for maintaining quality of care, but if circumstances beyond anyone's control happen (and they will) its not their fault.
1. Try and be cheerful. Yes what happened to you really sucks (if you're in the hospital, you're generally not there because you feel just dandy) but there's no reason to take it out on anyone, especially the people who are only their to help make your life livable. Remember, the sun still shines, blue birds still sing, and somewhere out there, people are busily baking pies. (Mmmmmm pie!)
Not a complete list. Hopefully this stuff should be obvious (I certainly hope so) but take what you want from it anyway. I don't think it takes any of us that long to think of someone who could probably work a little on their social skills.
If you think of anything that should be added to this list, comment on it here or send me an email.