Making the most of the hospital experience

It seems redundant to say that things have been busy lately, since really, things are always busy around here!

Ds13 has been hospitalized for the last week, and people have been asking about what he’s there for.  He has a septic hip infection, which wasn’t symptomatic other than hip pain (ie no fever or sign of inflammation); this is apparently uncommon.  He’s being treated with antibiotics via iv as well as having had pus in the hip joint drained out a couple of times.  Most of the pain is gone though he’s been told to stay off his feet, so he’s getting pretty good at doing pop a wheelies with his wheelchair.  We hope that he’ll be discharged on Sunday.

I’ve enjoyed spending time with ds at the hospital.  Getting out of the house isn’t easy, but once I’m at the hospital I enjoy being there.  I’m getting to know more staff and other parents, know what to expect in terms of shifts and routines, and it feels increasingly more friendly every time I’m there.  I like connecting with people and I’ve had the chance for some interesting and meaningful conversations with other parents in the pediatric ward.

Yesterday a young secular mother who asked me what prayers her husband should say at the time of their baby’s operation.  I told her that I don’t have special powers that she doesn’t have because I’m dressed as a religious Jew and she’s not – that prayer doesn’t have to be formalized to be powerful.  I shared the belief that has gotten me through some difficult situations – we can’t avoid crises, but we can choose how we think about them.  This is often the only power we have in a situation.  However you define it, the reality is objectively whatever it is, and what determines how you experience that reality is based on how you define it and the meaning you give to it.

Then I spoke with a young couple there with a one month old baby (their first) and advised them about how to interact more effectively with the hospital staff.  I had overheard them say something to a nurse that I felt would position them to be treated poorly (because of their hands off approach to non necessary medical care).  I shared with them some of my own experiences; they were so appreciative to feel someone was validating them as parents.  I spoke with another mother who treated her kids holistically for years and now is having a hard time seeing her child having a major illness that she can’t do anything about.  I told her, ‘believe me, I know where you’re coming from!’

I spoke with an Ethiopian father and a secular Israeli father, with a couple of other secular Israeli mothers – all such nice people.  Ds13 is a people magnet and who he is has opened the way for some of these conversations.  Kids of all ages in the pediatric ward like him (as do their parents)- the two year old in his room who brings him balloons to play with together, an eight year old a few rooms away came to show him his new toy car, the eleven year old in the playroom did computer stuff with him and then found a wheelchair just like ds13’s so he could copy him…so talking to the parents of all these people is very easy.

It’s a nice to be able to interact with so many people in a meaningful way, which is a luxury you don’t get in daily life – everyone is always rushing somewhere, but in the hospital, we’re all there, without anywhere else to be or anything else to do.

Lest you think this has been a relaxing vacation-like week, I’ll just say, it hasn’t – all that time doesn’t come out of my empty schedule!  Dd18 has been an amazing help and I don’t know what I’d do without her; she’s rearranged her schedule so she’s able to take care of Yirmiyahu when I need to go to the hospital, and she goes to the hospital when I’m home.   Dd16 spent last Shabbos at the hospital and plans to go again for this Shabbos (though she’s sick so that might change).

At every hospital I’ve been at, I’ve noticed how the Arab families have so many visitors at times that don’t seem to be easy times for people to visit – mid morning and mid afternoon – and I really wonder about how they do that.  We’re really stretching ourselves to have one person at a time staying with ds at the hospital, forget about more than one person coming!   (Though last night dd18  brought ds3, ds5, and ds6 to the hospital with her to visit ds13, then after staying a couple of hours they left to go home with me.)  What I think is that the families live very close to each other and they take care of each other’s children, which is wonderful because they have so much built in emotional and social support.

I got home with the three boys from the hospital at 10:15 pm, then was up with Yirmiyahu until 3:3o am, since he had to be held upright in order to sleep so I put him in a wrap when I went to bed, then leaned against the wall while sitting and tried to fall asleep.  It didn’t work well.  :)  Then all of the boys ages 6 and down were sick today so they stayed home, along with dd16.  Hopefully I’ll get a decent night’s sleep tonight, and we’ll all rest up over Shabbos!


One thought on “Making the most of the hospital experience

  1. Avivah thinking of you and your family often, praying for a refuah and plenty of raw goats milk! And sleep! And yet again, in trying times, you continue to inspire me with your positive outlook at being in the hospital. Sending lots of good vibes and many blessings in everything you need.

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