I had been ill for some time and since my family physician had failed to identify the symptoms (nor refer me elsewhere) I had to seek alternative help. A trip to the clinic, referral to emergency and then a specialist appointment culminated into a three night stay at the hospital.
It was all so quick I barely had time to prepare. Within a week I went from diagnosis to laying in a backless ugly green gown, with an IV in my arm and a catheter…well you get the idea.
Upon reflection I came to a few realizations about my adventure:
1. HOSPITALS ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR HEALING
With the constant sound of bedside buzzers, an intercom paging staff, laundry across the hall being done after 11 pm, plus the moans and cries from patients, it became clear that rest was not part of post operative care. I was woken up from a drug induced sleep so often to be inspected, injected, and inserted but the worst part came the day they started to decreased my drugs. Now I was feeling ‘rejected’ because without the benefit of a full-scale drug assault the pain increased and a lonely, sleepless night was to follow.
I had it easier than some patients because my husband and I opted to pay for a semi-private room which included a TV. The TV didn’t show up until the night before I was discharged. There I was craning my neck to see the screen and wouldn’t you know it, almost everything was repeats.
2. INFECTION HIGHLY LIKELY- CLEANING LOW PRIORITY
You would think hospitals would be the cleanest place on the planet but you would be wrong. A band-aid laid on the floor for three days untouched. The sink next to my bed, which had seen all sorts of human and other fluids, remained dirty. The bathroom I shared with one other woman definitely did not get a proper cleaning. On my last day a lady came with what appeared to be cleaning supplies but she was gone too quickly for me to be entirely sure what her purpose was.
3. NURSES ARE INCREDIBLE!
I have a new-found respect for the nursing profession. They brought both their expertise and compassion to the job every day. As patients we become like babes, completely dependent on them to provide all our care. The nurses I encountered not only showed respect but displayed a good sense of humour. It was evident that there is sisterhood and brotherhood that exists to support each other. At a time when I felt most vulnerable I also felt like I was in the best hands – cared for and nurtured towards recovery.
4. WITHOUT FRIENDS AND FAMILY WE ARE NOTHING
My husband was my rock. We had not been through this together and I needed him more than ever. He is such a good man and I say that with the deepest respect. I again saw the depth of his love and strength. (Along with the fact that he can handle household chores without me having to ask first) 🙂
I was reminded of how lucky I am with all the friends and family who offered well wishes and time. My dear friend Lise, who has experienced her share of surgeries provided compassionate post surgery care. My sister arrived with comforting items and a full day of motherly support.
Care giving is personal as we struggle to know what to do when someone is ill. However, with an abundance of empathy blanketed around me even the simplest tasks a person can do becomes a demonstration of love.
5. GRATITUDE AND BEAUTY SURROUNDS US
When my surgeon said I could be discharged I called my husband early in the morning to come “spring me from this joint.” I could not wait to leave. I had already watched through a window as the sun cast its early glow on the buildings outside. When I stepped out of that hospital I took a deep breath.
Resting on our deck at home with the sun still warming me I listened to every sound the birds made with a heightened sense of appreciation. The comfort of a familiar place, bed and everything that we have chosen to feather our nest gave me joy.
I have a specific picture imprinted on my mind and a feeling in my heart that was left as a reminder to be thankful.