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The Two Simple Things That Made My Hospital Stay Bearable

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Another trip to a hospital. This time the emergency room. It’s fair to say that when you are in an ER at 2 a.m., you are not feeling, looking, or acting your best. You might even be terrified out of your mind thinking that this is finally going to be something really really bad.

That was me the other day. I was in so much pain. I was crying and upset and scared and tired. I was in a strange city in a strange hospital, my family thousands of miles away. It took many people, many hours, and a few drugs to calm me down. But even when I could breathe again, I was still an anxious mess. I wanted to go home and be in my own bed, but I also wanted the pain to go away — that catch-22 of being in the hospital.

Many hours into my stay, someone knocked on the door. I thought it was the nurse with more medicine, but it turned out to be even better. It was another member of staff who peeked in and said, “I saw you were missing a pillow, I’ll bring you one.” At first, I didn’t really care. That’s very nice of him but it’s not exactly pain meds. But that pillow was the beginning of me getting to be calm. The comfort of being able to relax my head and feel a little more protected changed more than I would have ever thought it could.

After that, I realized that the person who had seen me as an ill human on a mattress without a pillow and actually bothered to go find one for me was the true hero of the day. They had taken into account the discomfort that arises in those situations outside my immediate medical emergency: the discomfort of the hard bed, being away from home, being cold, and feeling exposed. That meant so much.

The technician who came in to take me to my scan a few hours later had the same kindness in his heart. He gave me a warm blanket while I was in the machine, which he then covered me with afterward back in the room. It was your typical scratchy hospital blanket, but it was warm and it symbolized so much more. Those people could see I was scared, I was vulnerable, and I needed comfort. Many people can see that without acknowledging it and not even get close to trying to solve it because that is a lot to ask, especially in an emergency room setting. They are busy and see hundreds of people like me and in much worse conditions every day. But that night, that person gave me that extra bit of comfort and it made more of a difference than I could have imagined.

Again, it wasn’t because it was my favorite duvet from home or anything — it was the consideration, the understanding, and the kindness that the gesture of giving these items showed me. It gave me a more human connection to the people treating me and gave me “tools” to be able to be calm because I could rest a little more, feel some comfort, and be warm. That night I felt the warmth not only from my pillow and blanket, but from the people who brought them to me. Thank you.

Getty image by baona.

Originally published: July 13, 2022
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