There’s an unfortunate reality of staying in the hospital, and that is that you don’t actually get to stay there alone. I’ve had four roommates so far, and let me tell you – it’s been a trip, for sure.
The first thing I learned is that I am now doubly committed to visiting any relatives that get stuck in the hospital for more than an overnight stay. I mean, I visited in the past, but in terms of priorities, it’s been bumped up a few stages on the list.
Now, some people might say that it’s the nurses and doctors and stuff that you have to watch. Honestly, so far, I’ve seen near perfection in terms of “here’s what’s coming up in your treatment plan” compared to “here is your treatment plan”. Being so close to the people you room with, you can’t help but hear their story a hundred times a day. You hear everything they’re going through, and everything that’s coming up for them. You know everything you never wanted to know about their bowel movements.
The problem that I’ve seen is that these older roommates of mine are pretty much just left alone in the hospital for extended periods. Only two of the four roommates I’ve had have had any visitors. One had his wife visit when he was discharged up to the rehab. I was admitted at the end of his stay, so I don’t know if he had any visitors. Another of my roommates had no family at all, but a care taker stopped by every other day.
It’s no coincidence, then, that the other two roommates I’ve had have been pretty awful.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these guys have some horrific stories. I just think they need some support and help from friends and family.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean.
The roommate I currently have is in pretty bad shape. He’s bed ridden, hooked up to a whole battery of IVs, has had failing PICC lines, he’s been here several months, he has kidney problems, liver problems, a small bowl obstruction…the list actually goes on. Dude not doing so hot, basically.
In order to deal with some of the symptoms of the obstruction, the doctors needed to place a tube down his nose, into his stomach, with a small vacuum pump attached, to try to get some of the contents of his distended stomach out. It would provide him with some actual release from his stomach symptoms (which have been almost constant for the last 48 hours). It would allow him to eat solid food again, and it would let him continue with his chemo.
Now, it was going to be his 7th scope. I can only imagine how this guy feels. He really needs some emotional help, though.
Case in point – to get the tube down his nose, he had to stop eating. He fought so hard against the doctor that it was actually alarming. And this is for hospital food!
Then he lied, cajoled, and just straight up disobeyed doctor’s orders, and ate after his tube was placed.
He spent the entire night in agonizing pain, and the nurses and doctors had to run in constantly to check on him.
All for some awful spaghetti and meatballs.
I can’t help but think his suffering could have been avoided if the dude just had some visitors. Someone not hospital related that would actually sympathize and empathize. Well, not his suffering, but the additional suffering due to him having a mini rebellion.
I guess the point of this post is thus: Visit your elderly relatives when they’re in the hospital. They need as much support and help as you can give them.