Things I learned or remembered while in the hospital

  1. Wash your hands. I washed mine and used the hand sanitizer until they were red and crackly. But they were always clean and I didn’t bring home any extra illnesses.
  2. Be your own patient advocate. Docs and nurses are busy busy busy. They’ll forget a dosage or maybe even give the wrong one. Check every time or have your loved ones do it. Write a list of questions so you don’t forget during doctors’ rounds.
  3. Have faith in your body’s ability to heal. It’s always working hard for you. And same with doctors: trust but verify. Believe the protocol is working and trust the people administering it, but don’t forget number two.
  4. Docs/hospitals make zero connection between what they feed you and what’s happening in your body. I learned this years ago but was starkly reminded when I saw stage 4 cancer patients eating ice cream. I get that at a certain point people should eat whatever they want, but isn’t it common knowledge that cancer loves sugar?
  5. Laugh when you can and keep a light heart. Gallows humor isn’t for everyone, but it helped me get through a rough time. My sense of humor, oddly enough, came roaring back during this time.
  6. Don’t pay for a private room. Hospitals are lonely places, especially at night. Your roommates can keep you sane. Human connection is everything when you’re sick.
  7. Sleep when you can, because it’s hard to get rest in that setting. They’re up your butt all the time: take your temperature, take your medicine, here’s some food, here’s a shot (and not the fun kind). And they wake you up at 6am for no reason!
  8. Bring some comforts from home. Everyone made fun of me, but I had my hub bring me an essential oil diffuser and it helped keep me sane. And people loved it. (There was NO fresh air— the window didn’t even open a crack!)
  9. Music and earphones will keep you sane. Meditations, music, cat videos.. whatever brings you joy.
  10. This was a new one: if you ever want all your Tupperware back, get admitted to hospital.
  11. Really think about who you tell, at least at first. You’re in there to rest and recover, not worry about other people’s feelings about your illness or to get loads of visitors.
  12. Use it as a wake up call. Life is precious, and even if you believe we have many lives, you’ll only have this one once. Who was it who said, ‘Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging’? Get your priorities straight.
  13. Always have a will, even if it’s not finalized. No matter how old you are. Even if you don’t have kids.
  14. Once you’re out, you’ll appreciate the little things again: your own bed, a hot shower, fresh air. Good health of course! Appreciating the little things in life allows for more goodness to come in. I can’t emphasize this enough. The little moments in life are all we have, really. That and love. Appreciate those you love. Friends, family, your pets. Love is why we’re here, after all.

Perspective

The photo on the left is the view from my hotel room in Bali. On the right is the view from my hospital bed a couple weeks later.

Life can change in an instant. We all know this rationally, but few of us really take in that message, myself included. Sure, when young, talented, famous people die, we’re shocked. We think, ‘Wow, if HE (or she/they) can die so young and in the prime of his life, then of course a lesser human being, (me) absolutely could.’ And it scares us and gives us pause for a day or two. We may hold each other a little tighter for a minute. But that fades quickly. No, it usually takes something that hits even closer to home like losing a loved one unexpectedly, getting a bad diagnosis, or having an accident for it to really hit home.

When I got back from Bali, I somehow developed an abscess and it became badly infected (staph infection). I went to the ER and they admitted me after taking a blood test and seeing that my inflammation markers were really high. I was there for a week. I’m healing now thankfully but it was pretty scary there for a few days. I’m just sharing because I want to remind people how fragile life is. There’s a meme that says, ‘ The problem is, you think you have time.’ And I don’t think its meant to say, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY TIME YOU’RE GONNA DIE SOON! but I think its saying, time goes by so quickly. we are distracted and busy with our jobs, our to-do lists, etc, and we forget to take time to do the things we really love, or tell people how we feel. It would be tragic if your life or that of someone you love came to an end suddenly and you didn’t share how you felt. Don’t let that happen. Be vulnerable, risk feeling stupid; it’s hard but its worth it. You will never have to think, ‘if only I had done or said x…’

Shoutout to my mom

I want to give a little shoutout to my mama.  We’ve had our differences over the years, like any mother and daughter, but I can honestly say she’s one of the most thoughtful people I know. And woefully under-celebrated for it. One small example: if you mention you like something, even in passing, she’ll put it in her memory bank for later.  She’ll notice what chocolate you eat when you’re home and mail it halfway around the world, wrapped, for Christmas.  My mother has never forgotten a birthday or an anniversary or overlooked an important date. (The woman’s got a memory of an elephant. Unless you’ve wronged her—in that case she lets it go). She sends more cards for these events than anyone I know: even to people she doesn’t know that well or who have abused her and my father’s kindness. 

With her church group, Peg hand-knits shawls for people who are sick or grieving. My grandmother used  to call her the power behind the throne, (my father being the king) and she wasn’t kidding.  I think even Dad  would agree (to a point) that that’s a fairly accurate statement, or at least not inaccurate.  Hers is a quiet power. 

Probably no one would accuse her of being touchy feeling or lovey dovey. My first boyfriend still jokes about how, after years of us dating, she still signed her cards to him, ‘Fondly, Peg.’ As mentioned, her caring nature is more quiet; backed up by actions instead of little nicknames or endearing monikers, for which she has little patience. (I may have gotten that from her.) 

My mother is extremely humble and probably would never want me to post her picture here, but I just wanted to show my appreciation, because unfortunately it’s rare that I do. Love you Mom! Thank you for all you do, for me and so many others.