Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Emotional Wrestle With Hospitalization

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
~ Psalm 13:2, NIV ~

What is it about modern medical facilities that so mess with my mind?  There always seems to be a love/hate relationship going on between my local children’s hospital and I.  Rated one of the nation’s top pediatric facilities and only Level I Trauma Unit in the area, our medical “second home” has it all.  With an adjacent medical college and top specialists in every manner of rare disorder, I should be grateful that my family has this place to rely upon.

Yet, I struggle between wanting my child to be admitted and wanting my child to be home.  When one of my children is having a medical difficulty that we just cannot seem to resolve at home, I am glad to have our children’s hospital.  Whether it is tonsils and adenoids, asthma and allergies, swallowing a dime, rheumatology, or myriad bleeding issues, I have felt a tremendous sense of relief that God deemed me worthy of living somewhere in the world with a facility like this.  And when one of my children is having trouble that I know they could fix at this hospital, but the doctor refuses to admit them, I find myself distraught, convinced that it is the key to our relief.

Our children’s hospital offers some amazing things for patients.  There is a newer wing of the hospital that has rooms with hardwood-look floors and a relaxing set-up that rivals many top hotels.  Parents have their own little desk and TV to help endure the admission.  Bathrooms are huge and sunny, with floor to ceiling frosted windows.  Kids can rent videos and games for free from the family resource center.  There are centers in the hospital for kids to do art projects, engage in sibling activities, or hang out in a teen room.  The staff are all so incredibly kind, accommodating patients and parents in any possible way. 

But the fact is, this isn’t a hotel.  Everything in that hospital comes with a hefty price tag, which will knock your feet out from underneath you the minute you think you are beginning to emotionally heal from your inpatient stay.  If you have the courage to actually ask for an itemized bill, you will surely see insane things like $10 boxes of Kleenex.  Furthermore, that expense doesn’t necessarily buy you top notch service.  Sadly, there is always a pull with the resident on the floor between administering proper care and getting you out of that hospital quickly.  It almost feels akin to the waiter standing at your table in the restaurant, watching every bite go into your mouth, asking you repeatedly, “Are you done yet?  Are you done yet?”.  The pressure to contain costs and get patients out the door definitely makes the inpatient experience more stressful for families like mine.

There are many other aspects of inpatient hospitalization that make it rough, even if you know it is the best place for your child to be at times.  When rooming in with your child, the parent's bed is like sleeping with a coat hanger jabbing your back, whether you fold it out or sleep on it as a couch.  Sleeping in the recliner chair is an option, but it is sleeping in a chair.  If your child is miserable and crying out for your comfort into the wee hours, it will only add to your sleeplessness.  All of the interruptions taking vitals, drawing labs or silencing alarms going off in the middle of the night aren’t necessarily conducive to restful recovery either.  The food stinks, it’s lonely, and incredibly isolating as well.

So how do I process this emotional wrestle with hospitalization?  I thank God for sound medical care!  It isn’t perfect, but it is better than much of what the world receives.  My help comes from the Lord.  With each hospital stay, I pray that I get better at handling the details of the crisis, finding help going in and coming out.  I also improve at advocating for my child as I gain increasing knowledge of the nuances of how things work in the various systems of medicine.   I hate that I have to use the children’s hospital, but I am grateful for how it has spared my children’s lives and restored them to a livable health more than once.  And good or bad, it always gives me perspective, increasing my gratitude for life’s smallest gifts.

PRAY:  Lord, calm my heart during these times of wrenching inner conflict.  Thank You for good medical care.  Help us when we need to recover from hospitalization.  And lead us to grow in remarkable ways from the trials we face.

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