Being in the hospital isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…
And anyone who has been inpatient for any length of time knows all too well how the countless monotonous minutes seem join forces together and try to throw mutiny on your sanity.
Often times, when the stay is short enough, a quick break from the outside chaos for most can be just an unexpected blip on the radar in which one is forced to stop and be taken care of despite the fact that the world goes on nonetheless.
For others, being in the hospital can be an exercise in survival (emotional) of the fittest.
I often equate my experiences in the hospital as a controlled experiment in psychological warfare.
You are placed in an environment that is foreign to your everyday comforts,
Held hostage often at the mercy of your unrelenting body and complete strangers,
Forced to follow rules that are not your own,
And – worst of all, isolated from the world outside…
All while trying to gain access to freedom so you can return to life as you once knew it.
Some of us handle this unexpected imprisonment really well…
While others struggle greatly…
The reality is that not everyone handles captivity well.
Being one of those individuals that does not handle captivity well, I have had to hone my own ‘Survival’ skills through trial and error….unfortunately with quite a bit of practice over the past year.
I’ve found that there are a few key things that can make or break Survival in captivity:
1. Stay Connected: Being able to have a cell phone, laptop, or tablet allows for you to utilize your support systems effectively and also minimize the boredom.
2. Get Creative: Often times, hours and days just seem to just blend into each other, the television entertainment is lacking, and the silence (in between your roommates delirious rantings) can be maddening. The key is to keep your mind active and find unique ways to entertain yourself so your sanity remains intact.
3. Be Proactive: The reality is, even though you are in a place in which you are supposed to be taken care of – things happen, your ‘Captors’ (or your helpers – depends on how you view things!) aren’t mind readers, and each person has their own unique set of problems and medical needs and you just can’t expect them to know what could be happening to you from one moment to the next.
You MUST be your own advocate. Not only will you feel better about your care while you’re bed bound, but you’ll also find that this communication can be critical at heading problems off at the pass.
4. Allow Emotion: Some people say that showing emotion is a sign of weakness.
I believe it’s quite the contrary. As a society, we take pride in autonomy (being independent) and we are taught that there is an element of shame in not being able to handle all the things life throws at us….after all, we are supposed to be superheros, right?
I tried to buy into this philosophy but found that it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, being independent is a wonderful thing, but we can’t be everything to everyone all the time.
We also are only human and by pretending that we can carry the weight of the world on our shoulders –
We are merely placing a facade around ourselves that will surely, over time, fall to pieces…
Just like we will by carrying on in such a manner.
5. Let It Be: Let’s face it – sometimes things are our of our control.
Some will try as hard as they can to go against the grain of the way things are because it’s the only way they feel they can survive the moment.
They will rage and fight tooth and nail resenting every moment that isn’t how they want it.
Me, I tried that route and not only did it not get me anywhere…but I used up so much time and energy fighting against how things were. I was trying to force them to be the way I had envisioned them to be.
You can’t put a square peg in a round hole…you just can’t.
Once I learned to look at the situation differently, I realized that I can still ‘fight’ my way through things, I can still strongly dislike and protest my situation AND still survive with my sanity intact.
I didn’t have to ‘give in’ – I just needed to embrace the fact that, life sometimes has other plans. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change the fact that my body is failing – but I CAN make the best out of every moment and still find some peace in all of it.
6. Have some fun: Okay, so this is probably the one thing that many of you may not get – but honestly, it is the one thing that continues to keep me going when things are at their worst. I may be grounded to a hospital bed holed up in a cold and sterile room surrounded by strangers that don’t often get what life is like for me – but I’ve found that trying to lighten things up a little and being able to laugh despite even the most frustrating moments has been one of the greatest factors that have allowed me to keep my spirits high and my hope intact.
You know what??? Unfortunately, for everyone else…Life goes on…even if the world inside these 4 walls seems to stop, so why not do your best to continue to live with as much normalcy as possible?
When I am in the hospital, we don’t make a big deal out of it – for us (meaning my husband, kids, parents, and aunt who are with me daily on this journey), it’s just a part of life. Unfortunately, it’s something that has become more a part of our reality than I wish it was, but hey…that’s life…and it goes on. This hospitalization I’ve felt mighty awful, but I’ve managed to have the kids up here each day so they can see me (they are old enough to make their own decisions and they would rather come to visit than have phone calls and wait until I am home). While they are here we talk about school, homework, the favorite part of their day…we snuggle, watch movies together, play board games, play cards. I can’t hide the fact from them that I am in the hospital and I don’t want to act like this place is a place to be feared – so we try to keep things as normal as possible. Yes…I am in the hospital – but for them, the world needs to go on and they need to see that, even if I’m in here….it goes on for me too. You know what? I think it not only helps them, but it helps me to remember that, even though this is another day in the hospital, it’s still ANOTHER DAY and I am grateful for that and I should do my best to enjoy it as much as I can.
8. Reflect: Of course you have some time on your hands – so why not seize the opportunity to just reflect about all the wonderful things in your life. Evaluate where you are, where you want to be, things you might want to improve, things that aren’t necessary. Life often is surrounded by chaos and we get lost in the day to day monotony – utilize the downtime as time to regroup, reflect, and revitalize your priorities.
9. Rest: You’ve got nothing stopping you from doing this! This is, of course, the most obvious of all of the suggestions I have to offer – but it still needs to be said. By the way….did you know how difficult it can be to accomplish this feat amidst the beeping of machines, the overhead speaker, the obnoxious roommate, the senile lady 4 doors down screaming for her nurse because she thinks it’s a more effective way to get her attention, the poking and prodding at all hours of the night, the early morning arrivals of your new nurse, your doctors, your housekeeper, your aide, and your food….it’s easier said than done….(resting). 😉
And….Most importantly of all…
10. Have Hope: Hope is a driving factor. Hope gives us light even through the darkest nights. Hope challenges us to get creative, to push harder, and to keep fighting even when that small inner voice screams for you to give up. I’ll admit, I’ve had my fair share of occasions in which I am so frustrated, so angry, and feel so defeated that I struggle to find the purpose in all of the heartache…
But Hope whispers softly to my heart reminding me of all the beautiful moments that have come because of it, all the amazing memories I’ve had despite it, and all the beautiful things to come in my life if I just hang on to it (Hope). So…..I’m hanging on for dear life…..and there’s no chance that I am letting go anytime soon!
Now I know my methods are unorthodox for many…but for those of you who find yourselves captive and are searching for some survival tips…I hope you take a few from me! 😉
Love and Light,
PS…keep your fingers crossed that I get released from my current captivity tomorrow!!! 😉