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How To Make a Hospital Visit

Oh no, someone is in the hospital. I hate hospitals. Should I go visit? Even if the person is unconscious? What about that smell? Will I get sick if I go? How long should I stay? I donít know what to do when I get to the room. I donít like the sight of tubes, machines, blood, phlegm, stitches. Can I bring the kids? What should I bring to the patient? Is food okay? Will I get lost in the hospital? Is there parking? Bathrooms? How can we visit, with people in and out all the time? Can I just call instead?

This is the first of several articles written to answer these extremely important questions.

A large part of the population has such dislike of hospitals, it borders on phobia. You may not want to hear this, but most of that dislike is based on ignorance. Many who ďhateĒ hospitals have never been there. Many assumptions are made about what the experience will be like. Maybe you watch too many medical shows on tv.

Some of the hesitation is based on an unpleasant experience.

If you were ever hospitalized as a kid, chances are you remember it vividly. Trauma does that to people. Someone probably tried to explain to you what was going to happen, what to expect. But they explained it in adult terms. As a kid, you had no frame of reference. And you probably nodded that you understood, because kids donít challenge authority figures as a rule, especially when afraid. When things actually got started, it was nothing like you expected. But rather than ask questions at that point, a child goes right to anger. The anger is aimed at the parents (whereís the love?), sitting so calmly (having lied), letting this happen to them (danger), rather than protecting them (abandonment). Itís aimed at the medical staff (perpetrators). The child will act out the anger and fear, which looks like the child being uncooperative and inappropriate. This traumatizes the parents.

The solution here is to revisit the episode, looking at it now with adult eyes. You can now understand that it was done to save your life, as opposed to cosmetic surgery. You can now appreciate that your parents would have given anything to keep you from the unpleasantness. You can now be thankful for the outcome, and realistically assess the amount of actual recovery time. And donít forget the attention and respect shown you when you got home, or went back to school.

Letís take a moment now to give thanks for the growing number of Childrenís Hospitals, and the atmosphere nurtured there.

Perhaps you were called to a hospital after a loved one was involved in a trauma. Nothing in life prepares a person for that. The fear is insurmountable. The waiting interminable. The details sparse, if available at all. And, oh, the questions. Life as you knew it changed forever when that phone rang. Chaos reigned.

It takes a long, long time to recover from an event like this, whether the patient survived or not. Professional help is the best way to make sure you donít carry that trauma with you the rest of your life. No, you will never forget it. But you CAN get over it, and be emotionally healthy with the memory. No matter how long ago the event was, itís never too late to reach out to someone for an emotional tune up.

If you were ever forced to make a hospital visit, this stays with you a long time. You were given many reasons why you were to go. Chances are, IF anyone asked about your objections, they were dismissed as inconsequential. Thatís unfortunate. Again, now is the time to look at the situation with maturity. Maybe it was really a good thing that you went, but you wanted your feelings acknowledged. Well, acknowledge them now. Work through them now. Decide to stop being the victim, and take back control of your life. Consider the emotional state of the person forcing you to go, and love them through that.

If someone close to you died in a hospital, you may have trouble going back to one. Letís explore a few things about this. It will be hard. Take a deep breath.

First, a reality check. If the person was terminally ill, or of an advanced age, death was imminent. The person was taken to a hospital for comfort measures, and to make sure that everything that could be done was. Your shock and grief over the death would have been the same had they died anywhere else. The problem is more likely your unresolved grief, not the hospital. Start meeting with a grief support group. Now.

Secondly, stop and think, really hard, of all the times good came from a hospital. Times you know of personally. Babies born, illness cured, defects corrected, tests that caught something early, blood donations, successful surgeries, preventive procedures, stitched up injuries, infections avoided, nursing school, rehab, psychological problems addressed, pet visit therapy, community classes, support groups, meeting place and support after a disaster. Put peoples' names next to as many of these as you can.

Acknowledge any cultural differences. In many countries, health care is poor. In these places, the hospital IS merely a building where people are brought to die. While the American health system has many flaws, our hospitals stand as beacons of hope and healing. Learn what they are really like.

Aversion to hospitals is common. But hereís the bottom line Ė ITíS NOT ABOUT YOU. Get over it. The purpose of a visit is to show love, support, respect, care. The greatest of these is love.

Do you know there is clinical proof that people who get loving visits heal faster, and survive more often, than those who are alone? Do your part for


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