I read a great deal about staying healthy. I coach clients on healthy living on a weekly basis. I put a great deal of effort into keeping all the rocks of my healthy living cairn equally attended to and balanced.
This last week I came face to face with why I’ve decided to do that. My mom needed to go in for surgery and as the only child of an only parent, I’m the kid on call. I spent more time in the hospital over the past few days than I have since having my babies. This trip struck me harder, too. The smells. The (eck) food. The woman screaming “STOP. IT HURTS!” anytime someone would try to take her blood pressure. (Her screaming would be followed by the same dialogue each time about how they don’t have a larger measuring band and her asking the irritated nurse to check again.)
When we first arrived for the early morning appointment, it was so freakin’ cold in the prep center I thought I was going to have to go buy a blanket. They put my mom in this gown and said, “Here’s a heat pump to blow hot air into your gown in case it’s too cold.” See, they know it’s too cold. Ummmm, a heater maybe, so the rest of us without holes and pumps don’t freeze, too?
I learned a new word: emesis. Yep. My mom’s roommate had LOTS of emesis. Every few hours she’d puke (that’s emesis) into this little plastic thing which is very disturbing not only for her, but for my mom and I two feet away and separated only by a gray floral curtain. Hacking up phlegm noises filled the halls day and night and most everybody I saw had a dazed vacant stare, pain meds no doubt.
This was NOT a bad hospital. In fact, it’s one of the best stays my mom has had. The nurses were excellent and caring. Nobody seemed to hate their job. But this is not some place you want to be. It’s hard to rest. It’s uncomfortable. There’s so much interruption. It stinks REALLY bad. (Did I mention the smell?)
In our society, it’s a hard to avoid the hospital if you need a surgery. So here’s what you do. Do EVERYTHING in your power to avoid a surgery. Take care of your organs. Eat uber healthy foods. Hydrate like crazy. Limit your sugar and alcohol to infrequent sometimes-foods. Exercise daily. Nourish your mind and your creative spirit so that you catch an enthusiasm for life that is contagious. Serve others as often as you can, not because you feel guilty but because you want to live a full life and this is the best way to do it. Learn something new. Make a new friend. Visit an old friend. And love. Just love.
This way, even if you need to go have a stay in one of our lovely western hospitals, you’ll be better equipped to take the journey.