Get centered – Stop, for just a moment, and look at your daily routine. Are you getting enough nutritious food? Enough sleep? Are you able to go for a walk, even around the grounds of the hospital? Take a minute to make sure you include some element of self-care. I learned this the hard way; I wasn’t eating or getting sleep, throughout the day I used to sit in the hospital with a large cup of coffee and very little food. I started realizing my body and mind wasn’t functioning properly. We are very lucky to have family who bought us food everyday, but honestly I just felt guilty eating. All I could think about was that my father was on the ventilator and he was getting food through the tube. I felt dizzy and had major headache, I could not focus. I needed to take care of myself in order to take care of my dad and my family. After me starting taking care of myself I did feel much stronger and more focus. So take care of your self, you need to be physically strong to take care of your loved ones.
Get answers – Got a question about your loved one’s treatment? Ask. Noticing a new symptom or a side effect of medication? Tell someone. It doesn’t hurt to ask or to speak up. Knowledge is power. I had no clue which machines where for what, but I asked tons and tons of questions. I needed to know what was going on, what was next, what medicines is he on. The first 3-4 days were really hard because the doctors couldn’t tell us anything! All they where saying was “He is still very critical and we have to wait and see” I was asking question every hour to see if anything had changed. I know at one point the staff wanted to strangle me! But it was ok, they knew how stressed and upset we all where and they expected that.
Get support – It can be easy to isolate and lose touch with your friends and family, however, having concerned others who can be there for you is vital. Allow others in. If you can, remain involved in school, work, and activities you enjoy. Some days you may need to share how you are feeling with a friend. Other days you may not be able to give one more status report and just want someone to go to a movie with you. Friends and family can be a vital part of your wellness team. I know every time I saw familiar face at the hospital, I felt happy and at ease. My best friend called and wanted to came over at night after me coming home from the hospital, I knew she was tried from working all day and I told her, “No please go home and sleep and see me another day” She still insisted that she needed come over and even told me if I am tried I should just go to sleep and she will sit next me while I slept. That just melted my heart and at that point I was glad she came over, she just wanted to be next to me. We had our family and friends that called, texted, and came to the hospital, all that support was much needed and appreciated.
Get control – “Control?? You’ve got to be kidding!” I felt like nothing was within me control. But hear me out. What can you control right now? You can prioritize your day in any way available to you: “I will spend an hour at the hospital this morning, and then when Dad goes down for x-rays, I will go down to the coffee shop and call a friend.” Getting control may also mean knowing your limitations.
Finally, Get hope. When someone is diagnosed with serious illness, it may be hard to know what the future holds. There is a fine line between facing a significant medical diagnosis, and holding onto hope for recovery. You may find yourself wavering between hoping for the best and yet fearing the worst. You are not alone. Finding peace and balance can come as you work through the barrage of feelings, thoughts, and fears that are an inherent part of serious medical crises. Reach out to your support system, and allow others to help. If you have a spiritual path, this is a good time to spend some time connecting with your faith. Most of all, take the best care of yourself that you can during this stressful time.
Life holds no guarantees, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier when we face a medical crisis. You are not alone. I will never forget the day that this happen, this was the scared day of our lives. Only we know what we went through for the 2 weeks that my father was in the hospital. Even though others can’t relate to you allow others to help, find quiet moments for reflection alone as well as connection with your loved one who is ill, and if you begin to feel your level of distress is overwhelming, reach out and talk to someone you trust. And of course stay positive!
Now my father is doing much better, he is still recovering for major heart damage, but he is in great spirits.