A post off the beaten path of politics

My husband is in the hospital. I am not going to disclose his health information out of respect for his privacy. What i am going to do is offer some commentary on my hospital experience. He’s been through 3 in less than 2 weeks-not out of choice,but circumstance.

These comments relate more to the hospital he is currently in because this is where he ended up and has had the longest stay.I imagine to him the hospital feels like a glorified prison.You’re behind 4 walls,you give up your independence and daily choices, someone pretty much tells you what to do and when to do it, you can’t leave and you definitely give up your dignity. The one difference is you’re ill and the people are there to help you get  better.

First of all, we all know how busy a hospital staff can be. They will remind you how many patients they have to take care of. It’s true. They do. Of course,i care about all the other patients the staff has.

Some probably more critical than my own husband. When your loved one,that is a family member or spouse is in the hospital, your concern is with ONE patient,YOUR family member or spouse.

We’re all very aware that the staff has their hands full and they are not going to focus their care on just that one person you care about.However,nobody wants to be reminded of this when they have a concern about their own.

There’s no tact in saying that, no matter how true it may be. They should have at least one staff member assigned to each patient;someone  who is qualified to address any concerns a family has.

I would think that would take the burden off the nursing staff. I would hope that the nurses would have more tact when dealing with family members who have  concerns . Find a way to say it without being insulting.

The message that people are hearing is that you have a tough job and they should be more respectful of that.

Newsflash staff: as much as folks appreciate all you do,they’re  not worried about your tough job. They KNOW it is but at the moment they’re worried about their loved one,not how overworked a nurse is.The patient and family is not responsible if it’s due to a hospital’s lack of staff.(PLS note that i said IF. i am not making an accusation)

To the doctors;do not speak Dr lingo when it’s not necessary. Break it down into simple terms. If you must use medical terms explain what that procedure,treatment,medicine means to the person in specific terms.

If  a family member is responsible for consent they are going to want to be able to make an informed decision and sometimes those decisions are very difficult.

It is not helpful to say things such as this patient must have surgery.It is helpful to say this is going to be a big decision but the patient needs surgery because_____ and realize lay people have to have time to process the information. More information,not less, can be very helpful.

The hours just tick by cruelly when you can’t wrap your head around what is happening with your family member. It may mean a daily update. Some need more information,others not so much.

Some people are more comfortable with just laying back and letting the doctor make the decisions and living with them.Others would feel far more comfortable with more information.

Whatever makes each person more comfortable is what is right for them. There is not a one size fits all but the only way to know is to ASK.

Discuss with the family member if the doctor alone will be discussing the patient’s condition with the patient or if the family member AND doctor can share the responsibility;depending on whether the family member feels comfortable talking it over with the patient or not.Some people will want to leave it up to the Doctor totally.

It’s possible the family member would like to talk to the patient but isn’t sure how to approach them. I’m sure people could use some guidance and support on whether to do it,how to do it and when to do it.

People listen to Doctors. The Doctor should listen to the people he’s dealing with.

When people speak to a doctor,whether that’s the family member or patient they should not be made to feel their concerns are trivial or unreasonable.

They may or may not be  but it doesn’t help to pass that kind of judgement. People will actually be less demanding if they feel their concerns are being addressed and are considered important enough to be heard out.

I’ll say this; i wasn’t given  a lot of time to make a major decision affecting another person. I had a lot of information to process in order to make a  decision that  would be best as well as what that person would want. In our circumstance those 2 things were almost opposed. It was a definite mental conflict.

On the other hand the Doctor is not the one giving consent and having to make and live with that decision.His/her  goal is get the patient well and back home to their previous life as best as possible  and that is where there is at least one meeting of the minds so to speak.

The conflict arises when what the patient  wants is not exactly what the doctor is recommending. The person making the decision is  probably doing mental gymnastics to work through all that.

I can tell you this;unlike how everyone else has processed the decision, the final decision maker is trying to work through the patient’s  desires,the family’s concerns plus their own concerns.  It would be extremely helpful (and greatly appreciated btw)if the hospital staff could lend an ear as well as providing medical info.

What everyone else can see as a clear path,the decision maker can be on a roller coaster thinking they’ve made the right choice one day and struggling with it the next. Worse is that unforeseen events can leap out at you anytime We had our own difficulties due factors like  distance and how quickly Gary’s condition changed in only a matter of days.

Finally, the main focus is the patient’s needs and that’s true for every family member involved.The family members are naturally focused on the sick member. They should be. Anything else takes a back seat.

On the other hand the spouse needs to feel that they have people who truly support them and their needs to the extent their mental state and physical health are going to affect the patient.If another family member is involved(no spouse)the same holds just as true.

i don’t mean that their own needs can be neglected either. It’s a careful dance to make sure nobody gets their toes stepped on.It’s difficult for everyone,but none is going to affect the patient more than the spouse when it’s all said and done.I will say this; not a single family member can be neglected. It’s not a choice between spouse and family.

Everyone is involved albeit differently for each person.It’s probably a good time to leave family squabbles behind even if only for the present time.

I’m sure in some cases it’s not easy to do but most people can manage for a short time.

I’ve had to leave our specific pieces of information that might have helped make some points clearer.

Down the road I will fill in some of the blanks and much of what i’ve written will probably be less vague than it seems to be. I did the best i could do here skirting information i felt should remain private;it involves other people and my husband’s confidentiality.Although ,I feel like i’ve left out some things i could have included; i’m sure they’ll come back to me at some point.

In the end though the outcome remains out of our hands. We do the best we can with what God has given each of us.Nothing more,nothing less.Whether that’s the doctor, the caregivers,the people we care about and  ourselves. We all have some way we can help out when there is a hospitalization. A little help, a lot of help,doesn’t matter.God gives each of us the grace to do something we are capable of,even if we’re limited.

If you have any comments about a hospital experience you’ve had, for better of worse, feel free to leave them. I’d be glad to read them.