Hello, my dear friends, it’s been a long time since I have posted here. Too long, in fact. The truth of the matter is that I have been somewhat demotivated. I’m not sure whether it was the pandemic that eventually got to me, or that I was too busy at the hospital, but I haven’t felt the drive to write for some time now.
But I’m back! And I have a story to share. Someone extremely close to me has had elective surgery recently, and whilst it wasn’t major surgery with life-threatening risks, it wasn’t minor either. It’s been quite the tumultuous journey, therefore I wanted to share with you what it’s like to be a patient in the hospital during these difficult times.
It’s really hard. No visitors are allowed for the entire duration of the admission and you can only communicate via virtual means. As family members, we were told to drop patients off at the main entrance and only come back when it was time to pick them up. I distinctly remember how the nurse responded when we had asked during our pre-admission clinic. “No one is allowed to visit, that’s the rules for everyone.” Of course, she was only doing her job and I knew that was going to be the answer, but it was still a hard pill to swallow and the blow could have been lessened with a softer tone and some more comforting words. But we were understanding and prepared. Despite only being booked for a 5-day long admission, the thought of not being able to provide support if anything were to happen was again, difficult to reconcile. This family member was also terrified of going into hospital and was afraid they were not going to make it off the operating table, and whilst I knew that was almost impossible, the “what if” thought did lurk in the back of my mind.
Finally the big day came and off we went with anxious and heavy hearts. I managed to convince the people guarding the main entrance that I was a caregiver and would leave as soon as I dropped my family member off at the specified location. Which was entirely true and I had no intentions of staying longer than needed. Perhaps the nurse also noticed the person I was with was already crying and so mercifully let me in. And we discovered with good reason too, as the hospital did not seem prepared for us. When we arrived at the location the doctors had told us, the receptionist there looked blankly at me as I gave them the name. They fumbled with their computer, spoke to someone behind a wall and then promptly told us, “You’ll have to go back to the main reception first.” Okayy… I wasn’t liking the obvious lack of communication between departments, but we were at their mercy so retraced our steps back to the front and asked the lady there. And would you believe it, the main reception didn’t have our names either. She scanned through the list of to-be-admitted patients and informed us we weren’t there. By this time I was getting angsty, we had already been called twice (including 5 minutes before we were leaving for the hospital) to be notified of changed plans, this was only making us more nervous. Eventually, we figured things out and were taken back to where we had originally gone, but boy was I glad to have been there during the entire kerfuffle. Can you imagine being petrified of imminent surgery and then having to deal with all those things on your own? I think not.
But once we got over that hiccup it seemed that everything was going to run smoothly. As soon as we were comfortably set up I knew I had to leave because I wasn’t supposed to be there. We had to say goodbye and although I knew with almost absolute certainty nothing bad was going to happen, it was still extremely hard. Leaving someone behind as they lie in a hospital bed, crying and afraid, is really, really rough. Watching them avoid looking at you as you walk out the door is pretty heartbreaking when you know it’s because they think they might not see you again.
They were scheduled as the first case of the next morning. The estimated duration was 2 hours, therefore from 10:30 onwards, we waited with bated breath. And waited. And waited. By 2PM there was a lot of pacing and exasperated sighs in the house. I tried to remain calm, because I knew it was never hospital policy to call family members with updates. So no news usually meant good news. But I suppose during a time when you are not allowed to camp beside their bed until they come out of theatre, it could have been nice to receive a courtesy call to know that things were okay. Alas, that was not to be. So when it hit 2:30PM I decided I would just call the hospital myself to enquire. First time round I was unlucky, after I had been transferred to the right person they hung up on me before I could even get a single word out. I tried immediately calling back but switchboard informed me the line was busy and to try again later. Half an hour later I tried my luck a third time, and finally managed to get a hold of someone who was able to provide some good news. Things had gone well and they had just gotten back to the ward. Cue a huge sigh of relief. About an hour later we were FaceTiming each other and the huge boulder we had been carrying on our shoulders the entire day simply disappeared. Nothing much happened throughout the rest of their short stay and I can now happily report they are back home and looking forward to slowly rehabilitating.
And thus I must reach the end of this story. I must say, I don’t think I would ever want to be admitted to hospital in the midst of a pandemic with stage 5 restrictions. It is isolating, frightening and not to mention tortuous for your family members at home. But I am grateful for everything the surgeons did and understand the need for such restrictions. It’s a difficult dilemma, isn’t it? As a healthcare worker I wouldn’t want any unnecessary people around, but as the family member of a patient I would’ve done anything to stay. Hmm. Anyways, let’s hope I won’t be back there any time soon. That’s all for today’s story, I hope everyone is travelling well. Stay well.