Guest Blog By: Lauren Jones Hunsaker
Most of us have had to suffer through a holiday admission at one point. It’s a reality of our disease, which, for most of us, never made a habit of consulting our social calendars before burdening us with an exacerbation. I’ve spent several Christmases, birthdays, wedding anniversaries and many-a-Thanksgiving admitted. As far back as middle school, most of my holidays were spent in the hospital simply because it was an advantageous time for an admission.
It’s not an easy thing to endure for kids or adults. On a good day, being in the hospital is boring, uncomfortable and tedious. The holidays magnify our misery by adding self-pity and a serious case of F.O.M.O. to the litany of grievances. However, there are a few easy things you can do to weather the emotional storm of a holiday admission:
- Make a To Do List. While a day of nothing but channel-changing can seem never ending, a daily to-do list can help compartmentalize your day and alleviate the monotony of an admission. Reading, exercising, playing games or journaling at specific times can be helpful distractions and keep you from staring wistfully out of your window.
- Enjoy Holiday T.V. Ordinarily, I don’t watch a lot of television. But during the holidays there are so many classic movies, parades and specials on, allow yourself to indulge in the holiday deluge. If nothing else, it helps pass the time and connects you to the outside world (“Hey, did you catch It’s a Wonderful Life for the sixteenth time on NBC?” “I sure did!” “I don’t really understand why ‘Hee Haw!’ is funny.” “Me either, but Clarence is my favorite.”).
- Schedule Holiday Events Post-Discharge. The holidays are the holidays because of family. The pilgrims will not cast a pox on your house if you host Thanksgiving the following weekend so ask family members if they are willing to attend a second family gathering after your discharge. This gives you something to look forward to and helps temper loneliness while your family memorializes turkey carving on Facebook Live.
- Try a Little Empathy. No one wants to be in a hospital on Christmas, including doctors, nurses and nurse’s assistants. I know what you’re thinking – “they’re getting paid to be there.” And so as to preempt your next argument, yes, some are getting paid a higher wage for working on a holiday. But remember that many don’t have a choice in their work schedules, just as we don’t have a choice as to when we’re admitted. Staff are away from their families and missing holiday gatherings so they can take care of patients. Take a moment to tell a favorite nurse thank you for working on the holiday. Sometimes making someone else feel better makes you feel better too.
- Order in a Special Meal. Diet restrictions permitting, indulge in a holiday craving (i.e., turkey with stuffing, Chinese takeout, multiple desserts). Your doctors will love that you’re packing in some extra calories and it’ll give you a break from repetitious hospital food.
- Take Advantage of Tech. Twenty years ago, when we would emerge from an admission (shielding our eyes from the blazing sun, unaccustomed to human life), we had no idea what had occurred during our fourteen days of solitude. Gone are the days. With social media and constant connectivity, we rarely experience the same isolation we once did. Use today’s technology to cyber-attend family events from afar—FaceTime into family dinner or Skype into religious celebrations. Social media can sometimes (and ironically) exacerbate loneliness, but use its advantages to stay connected during the holidays. Feeling included can boost morale and help you power through an admission.