By Judy Reiss
Remember how I told you how I wasn’t going to discuss the hospital or my illnesses again? Well I lied. I decided that there were a few other things I needed to tell you. First, I just needed to share that I needed to go back into the hospital. So after my goodbye, good luck, everything is wonderful speech, they dragged me back in! And again the whole thing was like a very bad movie. I went to CVH, had a wonderful experience with the nurses and the most comfortable bed I ever put my body on. But then they decided I had to go back to Burlington, where the nurses and support staff are terrific, but the beds and bathrooms leave a great deal to be desired.
What I really want to share with you is how extraordinarily important your family and close friends are to your whole experience. If you’re like me, you figured going to the hospital is no big deal. I’m tough. I think that I know everything. Not only was I wrong, but I couldn’t possibly have been more wrong.
Going to the hospital is very much like going on a trip to a foreign country that you’ve never visited before. You don’t speak the language, and every single experience is new, different, and just a little bit scary. The difference is when you go to a foreign country, you go with your eyes open, in all kinds of anticipation and every decision is yours, and you just know a good time is going to be had by all. When you go to the hospital, everything is different and your goal is no longer a good time. Now your goal is to come out at the other end of your stay alive. Now, you may think this is a joke. Nobody goes to the hospital with the anticipation of anything but a good result. But the problem is if you go to the hospital alone and you’re not feeling well, ideas cross your mind that you never even considered before.
Nobody wants to consider going to the hospital thinking bad thoughts or having anything but a quick and easy procedure. That’s not true folks! Unfortunately that isn’t the way it always goes. I do know of a way to make this a much more pleasant experience, and this is the most important advice I’m going to give you. You have to surround yourself with family and friends from Day 1. Not people who are there to make sure you understand the reality of your situation, but family who are letting you know how much they love you, how much they care about you, and how they are willing to do anything to help you through. I’m just going to give you a quick example.
My entire family, including my four children, members of their families, and of course my angel boys Mac and SeaBass, were with me for the two days that ended up culminating into the best possible news for my situation. Without this group of loved ones, I am not absolutely sure I would have come out on the other side. For me, as well as for most other people, the experience of having such support from your loved ones is the difference between a good experience and disaster.
Being surrounded by warm and comforting family who were willing and able to tell you they love you and that things are going to be alright is a treasure beyond belief. Remember how I told you last week that you should never go to the hospital without taking an advocate with you? Well this week, I want to reiterate that message to have someone help you through the maze of not just healthcare, but your healthcare. The difference between making your experience easy and suffering through it alone is enormous. I don’t believe that it’s possible to check out of a hospital dancing and singing, but it sure is nice to be able to check out and not be checked out. Although I’m writing this from my hospital bed, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share with you, so my assistant came up from the Mass Maritime, and I’m dictating it to him as we go. I’m sure Charles Dickens had an assistant scrivener. But he certainly didn’t have one who drove 275 miles each way just to help his Nana share her hospital experiences with you. And Sebastian even got a gorgeous haircut just for me. I must be the luckiest woman in the world.