As some of you already know, my 85 year old grandfather had emergency open heart surgery in June. It was definitely terrifying and this summer has been one full of high anxiety, worry, and stress. I’m so happy to report that everything went as well as it could and he is currently rehabbing his muscles at an amazing facility. June was a month of uncertainty and fear but July has been a month of recovery.
We all eventually have to deal with someone we care about being in the hospital for something life threatening. During that time, it is important to remember to do the following five things.
1. Stay hydrated and eat healthy food.
Chances are if you are spending most of your time at the hospital waiting for news, it can be easy to forget to do basic things like eat and drink. If you are anything like me, eating doesn’t even sound appetizing when you are experiencing that level of stress because your stomach is doing back flips. Even if you feel too worried to focus on anything, it is important to remember to stay hydrated and well nourished. The last thing you want is to have to worry about your own health declining at a time when you are so concerned with someone else’s.
2.. Talk to a friend or a therapist.
Leaning on your family and friends who are going through the same thing that you are is great but sometimes it can also be beneficial to talk to someone who is completely removed from the situation. If you have a friend that is not involved in this situation or a therapist, this would be a great time to share your feelings with them and discuss some of your fears and frustrations.
3. Escape in a book.
Reading a book, watching a movie, or binge watching your favorite show on Netflix is a great way to escape reality for a little while. I brought a book with me every day to the hospital so that I could take a 30 minute break from reality when I needed it. Having a close family member go through a life threatening surgery is extremely stressful so don’t feel bad if you need to occasionally pretend that you are somewhere else.
4. Focus on what you CAN do, not on what you can’t do.
Unless you are a doctor, you can’t perform the surgery yourself. Take a deep breath and let go of what you can’t change. Focus on what you can do to make the situation a better one for yourself and the people who you are experiencing this with. If you are great with children, perhaps take all of the younger family members to a movie to help them relax and give the rest of the adults a break. If you are an excellent cook or baker, maybe you can make dinner for everyone or head to the hospital one morning with freshly baked cookies.
5. Stay Positive.
It can be really hard to stay positive in horrible situations but it is important to try. It is also important to be realistic and realize what the possible outcomes are. Be aware of the worst case scenario but hope for the best. Focus on happier times and don’t be afraid to tell a joke or laugh at one.
Above all else, keep trying your best to take care of yourself and be there for those around you. You can and you will get through this and you are much stronger than you think.