That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 34 (The “Surprisingly Lonely Coming Home” Chapter)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Alone in a CrowdIt’s Wednesday night , so the story continues.

Picking up from last week

Now that I’m out of the hospital in the story, let me take a post to take a tangent. (Shocking, I know… since I take them, hmmm, all the time.)

In my experience, here was the weirdest part of being sick – everybody was up my bum while I was in the hospital.

Psst, that’s when I don’t really need you.

I’ve touched on this idea before as part of the reason I didn’t want visitors. But it also goes with people who call, text, email, send carrier pigeons, whatever.

I appreciate the love. I love love. But the weirdest part about it all was the silence that followed. Everyone cares sooo much – until you are safely out of surgery. Once you’re discharged, everyone thinks you’re fine, and they leave you on your merry way.

I will go ahead and preface my remarks in this chapter by saying, yes, I did keep pushing people away. I asked them to stop paying so much attention to me. Perhaps people finally started listening to me. Perhaps it’s my own fault for not being a good acceptor of love. I will definitely shoulder some (maybe all) of the blame for this.

(I’ll also say that I had one or two people who continued to check in on me for um… forever. So, I wasn’t completely abandoned.)

However, it mostly went from an unbelievable amount of chatter regarding my health problem to silence after I got home. I do think that often in our society, people shower patients with love and affection while they’re in the hospital, then kind of forget(ish) about them afterward.

I completely understand that people are busy and they can’t (and shouldn’t) worry about you forever. And I think my stance on this has been made clear before – but to me, the hospital is the last place you need love!

Some people obviously feel differently. But for me, it was so weird to have everyone I’d ever met, who heard the news one way or another that I was sick, come out of the woodwork with an unending amount of compassion – just to disappear.

Returning home from the hospital is already lonely! You’re used to having a built in network of doctors, nurses, volunteers, fellow patients, and some visitors (whether they be yours or other patient’s visitors fanning out). You have a crazy number of people talking to you every day.

You don’t have that in your home. You don’t constantly have people walking in and out and around the hallway in your home. You don’t have people waking you up at 3am to draw your blood in your home. Where is all the buzzing around of the hundreds of new friends in your life?

By virtue of going home, poof! They are gone. They have to move on to helping other people who need it.

When your physical army of people and your virtual army of people all disappear at the same time, it’s extremely jarring, and really kind of lonely.

No one’s offering to come to your house to play Monopoly with you, as they did when you were in the hospital.

But this is the time you need it most! This is the time you’re in the most pain. (I don’t have a morphine drip in my apartment.) This is the time you are the most bored. (Most people can’t go back to work immediately. What are they to do with their time?)

Humans are weird! I will never understand why we offer so much support to someone in the most supportive environment on the planet, just to take it out from under them right as their other super support system collapses.

After the patient’s been lifted to the clouds, until (poof)! They’re hurtling toward the ground, involuntarily skydiving once every support structure collapsed at once.

So weird.

And I never even knew that was a thing until I was sick.

Patients come home and are dealing with pain, life adjustment, money/debt/bills, boredom, frustration at not getting back to their normal activities, possible problems at work or school – and who knows what else. That’s when they need us the most.

At least, that was my experience. I will certainly remember it when trying to support any sick friends in the future.

(I’d also like to say that I love and appreciate my friends. No one is perfect. (Most of my lovely friends are far closer to perfect than I am!) This is not a post to complain about them, just to shine a light on patient interaction that I wasn’t aware of before I got sick.)

The story continues next week.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?