When you start to get the jitters about paying a visit in the hospital, just remember that your friend or loved one wants out more than you do. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s not about you! That may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget when we get uncomfortable and come up with excuses not to pay a visit or check on a friend’s well-being.
As a health advocate, I’ve spent a lot of time visiting and advocating for people in the hospital. And there are still times when I just don’t want to go there. When that happens, I always remember a dear friend who had surgery because of a bleed in her brain. I rationalized not visiting her in the hospital because she was too sick and I didn’t want to bother her.
When I saw her after she got home, I was devastated when she asked me where I’d been. Why was I not there with her in the hospital when she needed me most? I made a vow to myself that day that I would never to do that to another friend. I hope you won’t either.
If you’re like many people, part of the problem is that you’re just not sure how to act when you get to the hospital room. So here are my tips to ease your worries:
• Keep it private – This room is the patient’s bedroom. If you wouldn’t walk into his or her bedroom at home without knocking, don’t do it here. Tap lightly and listen for an answer. Or peek around the door to see what’s going on without barging right in.
• Keep it short – 15 minutes is my maximum for a drop-in visit unless I am specifically invited to stay longer. You’re not there to be entertained. You are there to let your friend know you wish her well and that you are there if she needs anything.
• Keep it simple – Bringing a gift can be nice, but it is not required. Your friend wants to see you, not the loot you’re bringing her. I think a heartfelt card is more meaningful than a gift. And remember that whatever you bring in she has to deal with when it’s time to go home. So keep gifts small and simple.
• Keep quiet – If your friend is asleep when you arrive, leave her alone.