Barbara over at Let Life Happen blogged about visiting breast cancer patients. I feel this is a greatly ignored topic and want to add my two cents on this for the benefit of all patients.
First of all, before you visit a sick person, put yourself in their shoes. When are you feeling awful, do you want to entertain someone for hours? Do you want to answer dozens of phone calls asking the same thing? Don't you want to sleep or watch bad TV or sip herbal tea in your bathrobe with fuzzy slippers on your feet? If you are in pain, what is your preferred activity - lying in bed with your tablet or sitting up in a chair talking to people? Please think first before you go visit someone who is ill or even call them.
Second of all, if someone is in the hospital these days, chances are they are not doing very well. I have never gotten a good night's sleep in the hospital (because my blood is best between 3-5 AM when they come to get it and wake me up). I am probably not feeling well and am usually cranky as a result. I am probably in my pajamas (or a lovely Dr. Seymour Butts hospital gown) and not looking my best. Chances are I am in pain as well.
Never just drop by because you 'were in the hospital'. A few years back, a friend 'dropped by' because she had some blood work done at 8 AM on the day after a major surgery. A very bad thing to do. I don't know what she was thinking. Visiting hours didn't even start until 11 AM. I was in a lot of pain and really didn't want to see anyone.
Having a party in someone's hospital room is a really bad idea. A friend had heart surgery in his early-30s. My then-boyfriend and a bunch of other friends were going to visit him at the hospital a day or two after surgery. I refused to go. Why? Because I had been a patient and had surgery and knew I would not want that many visitors for a few hours a couple of days after surgery.
I can't tell you how many times in the hospital, I have seen hospital rooms full of a dozen visitors for several hours and the patient is dozing in bed (probably wishing they would all just leave and let them rest). A hospital room is not a party room.
Once a patient is home, that doesn't mean the door is open for non-stop visitors. They probably want to rest and recover. They might have visiting nurses and PT/OT for a few weeks. If you want to visit, call first. If you don't get them, leave a message and wait for them to get back to you.
Honestly the best bet for visiting someone after surgery or who is ill enough to require hospitalization is to call before any medical misadventures and ask about visiting them afterwards. Do not assume anything. Some people may welcome visitors and some may not. You cannot know unless you ask. Also, you might want to offer to stop and get them some groceries or bring a casserole. Just ask first.
When I am in the hospital, I tell everyone the only ones to visit me in the hospital are my husband and my immediate family. Everyone else can wait until I tell them I am ready.
Finally, if you have been exposed to or are harboring any germs yourself, stay away until you are healthy.
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