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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Should You or Shouldn't You? What Say Thee...

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I had a conversation with someone (we will leave it at that) and we disagreed on the topic.  There was no fight, no one is mad, we simply don't agree.

So... I'm wondering what others think out of curiosity.

I will give you a hypothetical (it's similar to the situation, but not exact).

Let's call the person Marie.  Marie's uncle is in his late 70's and very sick in the hospital, in fact they are not sure if he will pull through.


Marie, "I'm going to try to reach my aunt again after dinner."

Me, "Maybe you should call another family member, rather than your aunt, I'm sure she's crazed right now and exhausted, due to both worry and running back and forth to the hospital."

Marie, "Well it would be rude not to call my aunt."

Me, "Really, why?  I'm sure she will be told you called."


This is my take on things.  From personal experience, when I was in the hospital one of MANY times for various issues, this particular time with a really bad and painful cellulitis in my leg, I was so sick and in so much pain, I didn't want to be bothered.  This was before the day of the cell phone.

They had me on morphine through my IV, wouldn't allow me out of bed, had my leg raised up on some contraption and I was getting IV antibiotics.


Now... anyone who has ever been in a hospital knows you get NO rest.  As a nurse once told me, "You aren't here to rest, you are here for us to make you better."  (See In The ER Again - This One Is A Doozy!)

I remember one day vividly.  I couldn't sleep all night, even with the morphine.
  • When I did finally doze a bit, they came in to take my vitals.  
  • Then someone came to take my blood not too long after.  
  • Next the nurses changed shifts so there was noise and chatter from the hallway.  
  • Early that morning one of the doctors from infectious disease came in to see me.  I was in a teaching hospital (Stony Brook University) and so he came with students. Oh joy.  I was being nice and allowed the students.  And so... what would have been a normal doctor visit lasted MUCH longer.  
  • The lady came in to clean my room.  She was friendly but I wasn't in the mood to chat. 
  • Then an aide came in and decided it was time to wash me up and help me change into clean clothing (hospital gowns and hospital sock - yes sock - only one one foot.)  
  • The hospital phone rang.  Hospital phones have the absolute most HORRENDOUS RING on the planet for the record.
  • I twist, stretch and gasp and finally reach the phone.  It's my parents.  Ok, fine.  
  • I try to doze.  They come in with breakfast.  GRRRRRRRRRRRR  I want to hit someone in the head with the tray at this point. 
  • I try to doze again.  Some old lady, about 125 years old, starts screaming bloody murder.  They were trying to change her robe, I know, I heard the whole thing, VERY CLEARLY.  You would have sworn five doctors were holding her down and ten nurses were stabbing her to death. This went on a good 15 minutes or more.  Yes, I was on the geriatric floor, oh how thrilling, because they had no beds, the hospital was packed, so I was the lucky one and got put there.  Fun, fun, fun. 
  • Ahhh, peace.  Wrong.  The horrendous phone rings.  It's an Aunt.  I tell her my whole sordid tale.  We hang up.
  • The horrendous phone rings five minutes later.  It's a girl from work.  After I went back to work, she told me what I told her.  We had a good laugh.  Apparently I told her some crazy story - I was beyond tired and drugged.  Who knows what I said to the Aunt.  I am told I did get some information correct.
  • Horrendous phone again.  Another Aunt.  Then again, a cousin.  Again, another woman from work.  Again and again and again and again.  
  • I ask the nurse to turn my phone off please.  She can't do that.  GRRRRRRRRRRRR 
No, I'm NOT A BITCH.  People I KNOW, I'M WELL AWARE - YOU ALL CARE, TRUST ME, I GET IT.   I very much appreciate it.  But... you are not the ONLY person who wants information and cares.


My last inpatient hospital stay, about six months ago or so, I had my cell phone with me.  I never had the hospital phone turned on!  Five million texts are NOT a good thing folks.  The day I finally left the hospital I was beyond exhausted.  I came home, went straight to my room, got into bed and finally dozed off.  Ahhhhh, no one to come in for blood, no one taking blood pressure, temperature, nothing stuck on my finger.  Sleep.  FINALLY.


My F*CKING cell went off.  It was a friend.  "Hi!!!!!!!!!"  Oh shut up you cheery bitch was my first thought.  Sorry, I'm being honest here.  I explained I just dozed off.  Still cheery, "Oh, I just wanted to see how you were doing, I guess better, I heard you came home."  It took me five minutes to get her off the phone.  I love, love, love her, but at that moment, I honestly wanted to kill her.  My husband came into the room and I made him take my phone and told him if anyone or anything else bothers me, I couldn't be held responsible for my actions.  I had not slept in three days and I was so tired I literally could not function.  I NEEDED to sleep.  

Marie, "Don't you think my aunt will get insulted if I don't call her?"

Me, "No, if it were me, I'd appreciate not being called. I KNOW you care and are concerned.  But, I'm busy and exhausted and repeating the same exact thing 25 times each day is upsetting and time consuming." 

Marie, "So what would you do."  

Me, "I'd set up a spokesperson.  Someone who will get info. out to everyone and keep them updated.  Ask everyone to share the info. with others."

Marie, "Really?"

Me, "Yes, really.


Marie, "I was going to go see him." 

Me, "How bad off is he?"

Marie, "He doesn't have much time." 

Me, "Hmmmmm, Maybe you shouldn't go."

Marie, incredulously, "Why not????"

Me, "They don't allow that many people at once, right?  Don't you think he should have his children there as much as possible and his grandkids?"

Marie, "Maybe I should ask them."

Me, "They will probably be polite and say to come, but, keep in mind, that's less time his kids can be with him all at  the same time."  

Marie, "But I want my uncle to know I'm thinking of him, I care." 

Me, "Don't you think your uncle knows that?  

My take on things.  A close family member was hospitalized.  The spouse was going crazy, taking care of everything with the house, the pets, the kids, AND running back and forth to the hospital on very little sleep.  Other family members helped where and when they could, but, it was still insane for the spouse.  

Do you really think 40 cell phone calls and 75 texts a day and having to take the time to REPEAT the exact same thing 115 times was something a person appreciated????????????????  Really???????????  

Marie, "So what would you do?"  

Me, "I'd stay in touch with someone not as close, the person set up to be the family spokesperson, I would not bother immediate family and I would not run to the hospital.  I think his wife, children and grandchildren need as much time with him as possible and need it privately, to do and say and feel and not be uncomfortable with a crowd around them, no matter how close you are. I think it's for the very immediate family."

Here's my take on things.  If you are close with someone, if you cared about them, treated them well, loved them, spent time with them, had fun, made memories, then they KNOW you care.  Running to a hospital or making calls directly to them or their very immediate family isn't a sign of "caring" in my opinion.


When someone is sick and people go running to the house, it's a bother.  No matter how much you tell someone not to fuss, you KNOW they are going to feel they need to entertain, make coffee, put out something to eat, offer a meal, make sure the house is spotless, sit up and talk with you, etc.  They  probably really want to lay on the couch and scream or cry or sleep or get lost in a book or watch a movie or pray or anything else but worry about entertaining company. 

Marie, "Well, if he made it home or they sent him home on hospice, I was going to go with a little gift of something."

Me, "What could you possibly bring a dying man in his late 70's that truly means something."  

Marie, "I don't want to make anyone mad at me."

Me, "So it's about YOU then.  Let me ask, if it was your parent, would you believe your extended family doesn't care?"  

Marie, "Of course not."

Me, "Then why would they possibly think you don't care?  Don't you think they'd appreciate it more if they had the time they need with their dad?  Don't you think they'd appreciate NOT having to repeat the horrible information 30 times in one day.  Don't you think saying it over and over and over is not doing them any good?"


Marie, "But if I don't show up, what will the family say, it's not polite."

Me, "So it's about YOU and about what the FAMILY thinks.  Why are you concerned about what other people think?  Why do you care?  Let them think whatever the hell they want to think. YOU know what you really feel for your uncle.  That's all that matters."

I know someone who HATES hospitals and even more so if they are the person IN the hospital.  They despise people around when they are sick.  They don't even want their spouse or children around.  They want to be left alone.  However, that same person has done more for people and given more to people and has the kindest heart on the planet.  


I've seen too many people who go running when something "bad" happens but you never hear from them because they are so "busy" all the time when all is fine.  I'd be more insulted at them being so busy they couldn't possibly make time for me than them not calling me directly when I'm very sick.  I wonder why they aren't "busy" and now made time to come running to the hospital or funeral parlor. If you can find time for that, can't you find time to come see me when I'm doing well and we could have fun together, even for half an hour!

EVERYONE is "busy".  If you want to see someone, do something, you will, period, the end.


Marie and I agreed to disagree.  I personally have always called someone not very close to the situation, feeling I'm being kinder to the patient who needs to rest and the family that way, freeing up their time, sparing them a repeat of the torrid details and letting them do what needs to be done. 

Marie still feels it's rude not to call her aunt directly or to go to the hospital.  I still feel it's too much on the immediate family and a spokesperson should be set up. The immediate family and the patient should be left to tend to the difficult situation!

Now... as far as helping.  I always help.  And I appreciate help.  Making dishes is SO HELPFUL. Offering to shop, do laundry, shuttle kids, take care of pets, is all helpful and appreciated. Again, I think setting up a spokesperson, having that person organize and disperse info. is the best way to go.  

If a person isn't that sick, sure, go to the hospital.  But, in my opinion, don't call the patient or the immediate family directly.  Just my take on it. 

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