The first thing you should know it that I am incredibly close with my grandfather. We go out to eat together, have shows we watch together, sit in companionable silence, and he edits anything I write that he sees, including these blog posts. I am always happy with it though because there are only ever a few edits. The second thing is that as intelligent as the man is, he is also an idiot who doesn’t take care of himself or let others take care of him. In short, a close family member of mine is in the hospital currently and this is how I am dealing.
- Learn nothing or everything about what is going on.
I will be honest: I am trying to know the bare minimal about what is going on. This is because if I know everything about the procedure my grandfather will be doing and every risk around his kidney and heart problems I will go crazy. I will work it up in my head to something worse than what it is even though I have been told by professionals that it isn’t ‘too bad.’ I say this loosely, he was going in for a heart stent, they couldn’t do it because of his kidneys, but now in another day he will be ‘safe’ for the procedure and end up with three stents. It has risk, but there is not drastically more risk than before.
This way of coping has worked for me in the past with more serious hospitalization issues and continues to work today. I find it easier when I simply trust the doctors and my family and don’t know all the scary details. I know other people who need to know everything. There is a sense of control when you completely understand all of the risks and entailments. It is a viable and quite helpful option.
- Have something of theirs with you.
If you aren’t with someone, having something of theirs or that reminds you of them can make you feel connected. I hate hospitals and visiting hours only last so long so I have something of my grandfathers with me: his shirt. My grandfather has a large collection of T-shirts some of which are a little weird or quirky, but encompasses him, because they are all he has worn my entire life. As I write this I am in one. It has a plane on it and says “I Survived the C-131.” He wears this quite often. This concept will work with anything that you think represents your loved one. I find this allows me to breathe a little easier and relax, having a piece of my grandfather with me.
- Only Communicate via texts, calls, or emails: Minimal Visiting
A lot of people have issues with hospitals. I have anxiety which acts up a lot in hospitals, specifically when I have to visit someone. Just the fact that a family/friend is hurt enough to be in the hospital disturbs me, seeing it and being in that environment breaks me. Due to this, I am not one of those people who visit every or most days. I go as little as possible to be honest. Instead I communicate via whatever way the person in the hospital is most likely to respond. My grandfather emails so that is what I have been doing. If it was my grandmother I would be calling. If it was my mom, which thankfully hasn’t happened, I would be texting and calling. This allows me to still communicate and be there without actually being there.
- Work, Work, Work
Are you having troubles dealing with your loved one’s being in the hospital? Why not find a distraction? What type of distraction: work. My version of work, since I’m on summer leave and don’t have any classes, is writing, organizing my room, and doing anything I can to be at least a little productive. I do emphasize ‘working,’ meaning doing things that are productive. It will make you feel more relieved and generally helpful since you are actually accomplishing something while you avoid going to the hospital.
- Don’t Bring Gifts
This may be me being cynical, but what is the point of hospital gifts? You aren’t supposed to bring food/sweets because, let’s be honest, if you are in the hospital it’s probably something exacerbated by that. That is the case for my grandfather at least. Also, stuffed animals are great for kids or people who you know will keep/use them, which generally isn’t applicable. If it, then yes, stuffed animals and cute things please and I am so sorry you are in that position. Cards and flowers are in that boat as well for me, especially for my grandfather. I know he won’t appreciate them nor keep them and it is thus sort of a waste.
If you want to bring something, I say make it something useful. Bring someone their electronics, pillow, clothes, etc. That will be far more beneficial to them than something that will last for a few days or only dissuade boredom for a few minutes.
If you want to show you actually care, bring them something you know they will use/like, be there for them in whatever way you can, and tell them you love them. However, this is just the weird things I do/think and how I deal with this type of situation. I do want to leave you with one more things:
- Do what you need to do
If you can’t handle being at the hospital, don’t go to the hospital. If you can’t handle being away, then be there. It doesn’t matter if whatever you are doing is different than what the rest of your friends/family is doing. You need to make sure you aren’t hurting yourself because that will hurt your loved one and make it harder for you to be helpful to them. It is a hard pill to swallow, but you don’t have to feel bad for taking your health into account.