Friday, March 12, 2010

Don't judge, just help

This morning, I was reading about Sen. Harry Reid's wife and daughter's accident. In one of the articles, it noted that Reid did not stay at the hospital. He returned to the Senate to continue negotiations about health care reform.

I cringed, because I knew things like this would happen. I found this Tweet: "Harry Reid, a sure loser in the 2010 election, would rather be in DC forcing Obamacare thru, than to be with wife in hospital."

Forget the politics of health care reform. Forget that Reid is a Democratic leader.

Think about how each individual deals with medical emergencies differently.

When my late husband had a catastrophic stroke, I was able to stay with him at the hospital. I didn't return to work for four or five weeks. NOT everyone can do that. I had a supportive employer, co-workers and family.

When he was able to communicate with me, he said he didn't remember 99 percent of what happened in that ICU unit. He doesn't know what was said, done or who visited. It's a fog, because of his precarious condition and the environment. It's difficult for many to keep their days and nights straight. The machines and tubes often create noises that muffle and alter reality as well.

While Mrs. Reid has a broken back, nose and neck — all very serious — I understand why Harry Reid did what he did. It's what he needed to do. Once you observe a few medical emergencies, you'll see how each person deals with it differently. Think about it — some people cry and fall to pieces. Some people find an inner strength that no one has seen before. Some people become numb from the experience. Some people let the medical professionals do their job.

People will criticize you no matter what you do. Some people felt like I stayed at the hospital for too long. I was encouraged to leave and to begin moving ahead, but I couldn't. While I wasn't the crying, weepy type, looking back, I honestly needed that time in the bubble of the ICU waiting room to adjust to my new reality.

Money also plays a role in how many react. Some folks can't afford to buy gas for their car to visit loved ones in the hospital. Some can't afford to miss a day of work. After all, the ICU is taking take of your loved one — technically you are there for support.

Don't get me wrong. I strongly believe family contact is important for recovery. But, I don't want to judge a person for how he or she reacts. It's ridiculous to do so. That individual has enough stress. There's no reason to pile it on with snarky remarks.

My mom had a serious neck and back surgery last August. She's recovering nicely, but she has mentioned on more than one occasion that she doesn't remember my visit with her during the post-surgery phase. I was there. She knows I was there, but she can't remember it. It's just another example of where your loved one — may not even know what you're doing to help them.

Unfortunately, there will be nasty comments made about Mr. Reid and how he behaves while his wife is recovering. I think the best thing is to simply offer up a prayer or a nice thought for the family. Medical emergencies are difficult and often devastating. The last thing a family needs is a bunch of nosey folks butting in. Each family needs to make its own decision on what's best. No one else.

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