He was terrified. Eyes big, small steps, hurried speech. He hated hospitals. But he dared to face the fear to make sure I was okay.
That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. What friendship!
You see, I was terrified to be in that bed, too. If he could face his fear, then I could face mine!
When you are in the position of patient, you know who your friends are. And who aren't. They drop you so fast, the false friends. So in a way, going through some sort of health challenge is an opportunity to review your inner circle, and see who is best to be there, and perhaps who should not.
If you are in health care, or a friend of someone who is going through health concerns, here are some tips:
Cut them some slack: the number one thought is remember they are afraid and possibly in discomfort. Pain and nausea, or the possibility of it such as right before surgery, cut those social skills to toddler levels pretty quick. I see it when patients threaten me with lawsuits at hello in pre-op holding, insinuating, don't you DARE mess up! Love is the solution to everything. To folks like this, I smile, and drop my energy very low, and remain calm. Whether they want to or not, they are going to catch my vibe as soon as our auras are in close range. They are upset and seeking control. Being with an expert anesthesiologist doing their thing is calming, since they pleasantly do their task with skill and efficiency that can't be denied.
Ignore the medical/disease and look them in the eye: This one was a little hard when I had a patient with CRPS-2 of the breasts, and was fanning them under a tent so the sheet would not touch them an cause pain. Eye contact means acceptance. And acceptance is therapeutic. You are there for them, warts and all, and not going to go away.
Size up the medical/disease: Doctors are trained to do this automatically. We even ask questions. You don't need to. But after you have looked them in the eye, without being really obvious, scan the room and the patient. Are they pale? Do they look ready to throw up? How many tubes are connected? Is blood hanging for a transfusion? Are they on a ventilator? The more i.v. poles with drips in the ICU room, the worse their condition is. Their condition is going to be the elephant in the room. You don't talk about it unless they do (as a visitor. as a healer you do.) The more organ systems are out, the chances are not so good about recovery. I have seen two out and come back, but not more than three. (Dialysis, Ventilator, Intra-aortic balloon pump, etc.). For a serious burn, we estimate age plus percent of body burned equals risk of poor outcome. Some heal, but it is a good rule of thumb to know.
Have reasonable expectations: My boy wanted me to come home from surgery and ride a bicycle. Healing takes time. Remember and remind your patient that the goal is baby steps. If your loved one presses the call button for the nurse, and it takes forever for the nurse to show up, understand that sometimes they might be a sicker patient on the floor taking the attention of your nurse, or perhaps a new one came up from surgery. You can always walk to the nursing station and ask someone to help you out.
Pain goal is about a five. Under five you can ignore pain with medication.
If your patient is sedentary and not an exerciser, i.v. placement might be difficult. There is always the option for the PICC nurse to place a peripheral central line in the crook of the elbow. This has more infection. Nurses can't or don't use lidocaine, anesthesiologists do, but sometimes the local anesthetic messes up the anatomy of the vein, and you have to try again.
If you are a patient, you may not feel up to reading, TV, and long conversations. This is okay, and expected. As you feel better you will go back to those things.
If you have a sense of humor, use it: Nice neck tie! Robin Williams said to Christopher Reeve when he first saw him after his accident. It makes things light.
Love and Light are EVERYTHING!