How to Support a Friend in the Hospital

I’ve had another round of hospitalizations recently due to bowel obstructions. It’s been a challenging spring, being admitted three times in the month of May alone. Brutal. Frustrating. Kind of makes me want to go underground and not reach out to my support system. Mostly because some defeatist depression kicks in, and partly because it is completely exhausting and I feel miserable. Sometimes I think I don’t want to see anyone.

So when a wonderful friend asked if she could come visit, I replied, “I don’t think so, but thanks”. I’m really happy she saw through my sadness and stopped by anyway.

I’m a super social, high level extrovert. This means I am energized by being around people. I absolutely know that laughter is the best medicine and love love love being with family and friends. Wouldn’t you think I’d love visitors? Nope.

A few hours later, I got a text, “what room are you in? I’m downstairs and only have 5 minutes”.

Does it feel wonderful when a dear friend drops by for literally 5 minutes with trashy magazines, an activity and some candy for when I’m better?¬†You bet it does.

 

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Pictured here is the most excellent gift – a tray loaded with activities and comfort.

Bring a Tray of Encouragement

How fantastic is this All American tray, complete with:

  1. Wall art with a wonderful encouraging message
  2. Party lights so I could look forward to the Fourth of July next month
  3. Candy for motivation for when I can eat again
  4. Magazines to stay in touch with the really important stuff ūüėČ like Hollywood gossip
  5. Coloring book with some awesome double ended markers for creative distraction 

The added bonus of bringing a tray to a friend in the hospital was that it kept all of my bits and pieces organized. Earplugs, eye mask, eye cream, hand cream, music, magazines and of course compelling hospital literature. When the nutrition team brought my pathetic excuse for liquid meals, they simply moved my tray and placed the food tray down. Voila! Genius unexpected transition.

Over the years I’ve had tremendous support from family, coworkers, friends and neighbors. What I’ve learned, and experienced myself, is that you need to ask for help. Be specific on what you need. And when you think you don’t need a friend, you most probably do.

I’ve shared other ideas for how to support a friend in the hospital in other posts like Good Form¬†when my mother brought me a wooden artist’s figure and when my friend came by with beautifully scented hand cream. Hand made cards from my neighbor girls. Simple, loving, and uplifting.

It really feels good to get support and it can come in the form of loving texts, emails and phone calls, but the in-person visits, are often hit and miss. I just don’t usually want to be that girl in the hospital bed with people looking at me with pity.

Also, people always ask me what happened and why it can’t be fixed. ¬†I have no answers and it’s tiring. I do my very best to watch the foods I eat, get plenty of rest and drink lots of water. I know these things, I know how to avoid a blockages. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what I do right, some combination of stress, food, inflammation, dehydration or scar tissue causes my intestine to stall out, resulting in a lot of pain, nausea, and typically, if it doesn’t resolve itself, we’re on our way to the E.R.

There is some weird guilt thing that happens to me each time my life gets derailed by a blockage. I feel vulnerable and weak, I imagine people think I brought it on, could have avoided it, need to rest more, slow down, etc… ¬†I’ve had an ileostomy for 20 YEARS now and I am usually very healthy, active and balanced. I feel lousy when this happens and wish I could pin point exactly what went sideways but typically it’s not that straight forward. I’m sure I’m feeling sorry for myself, and also, just don’t have the energy for the questions. But I still need extra TLC even if I’m keeping the blinds closed.

So when you suspect a loved one is isolating themselves, I encourage you to push a little. Offer to stop by.

Insist on a Five Minute Drop By

I recommend letting your loved one know that you are dropping something off but only have five minutes. Make it brief and bring an activity and something to help them look forward to better days to come. The visit will probably last longer, but 5 minutes feels doable, even when you’re fighting off chronic illness depression.

There’s almost never a perfect time for a visit in the hospital and there’s no guessing when our doctors will stop by, or we’ll be whisked off for a test or be on a sightseeing walk around the floor. There is no good time, there is no bad time, just make it brief and be available to wait for a bit if necessary. Above all, show up.

 

 

 

 

Bunco for Breast Cancer

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I’m only finding a bit of time to blog recently¬†but wanted to share a great gift and thank a thoughtful supporter of wellness.

This month I’m volunteering for a¬†Bunco for Breast Cancer¬†fundraiser and I’ve visited local merchants to see who could sponsor our event with donations for raffles and a silent auction. It has been interesting¬†to shift my focus from ostomy empowerment and focus on a disease that affects so many people.

It was without hesitation that most shop owners gave generously and I’m excited to combine my love of gambling (well – my love for tossing dice with the gals) and my wish to help.

Expressions Boutique donated a special gift bag including a necklace with one of these adorable charms. Appealing to everyone from dog lovers and cancer survivors and their supporters, there was a charm for everyone in this selection.

I’m getting ready to Roll the Dice to Beat the Odds in Tempe on Sunday, April 14, 2013. It’s not too late to sign up!

Learn more about our upcoming event here.

Karen

Connect with Loved Ones

I got a simple email from my dearest friend in the world. We’ve known each other since childhood and stay connected with quick texts and emails, never feeling any distance with time apart. She had a quote at the end of her email that expresses my belief that we all have the power to add positivity:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

This Glassybaby arrived in the mail from a couple other treasured friends. It came with a note that shared the added goodwill that was spread with the purchase of the lovely candle, and the warmth it has added to my life.

My Glassybaby obsession began 5 years ago when my friend gave me one for my birthday and I blogged about it back in 2008 under Great Gifts. These babies glow in my home renewing my senses and connecting me to cherished friends.

Share some light today.

Karen

Charming and Meaningful

Just when I thought I needed to toss out all of my bits and pieces from broken jewelry, game pieces and odd keys, I met an artist who puts it all together into wearable art!

Margo Estruth of Charmed Vintage makes handmade soldered charm necklaces and bracelets with vintage objects.  I found Margo in Scottsdale at an art fair but she showcases her work on Etsy.

If someone you love is in the hospital, or facing the emotional challenges of recovering from life altering surgery, giving the gift of positivity is refreshing. Gather up some meaningful items and make a customized gift – it’ll outlast flowers and be a reminder of brighter days ahead.

Love & Toast


When I first saw my daughter pull this pleasing tube out of her purse, I was tickled. Tickled pink.

Then I read the name: Love & Toast and was intrigued and delighted. My motto has always been that “tea makes everything better” and toast is the first thing you eat when you are on the mend. It’s all “love and toast” isn’t it?

It reminded me of when my friend Ann came over once after a surgery with some sweet smelling creams and cozy socks. At first I thought she was going to give me a food massage but she saw my startled reaction and told me to relax – she didn’t want to touch my feet. She just wanted me to smell and feel good. I always do when I see her.

I’ve been meaning to find the Love & Toast hand cream for a while because I just want to give it to everyone! When I found it, I was even more pleased with the fun website and the theme and mission.

Margot Elena of Love and Toast has a lovely Philosophy:

Pretty is as Pretty Does. With every Love & Toast purchase you will not only look good, but you are doing good. A portion of every Love & Toast sales goes directly to Regional Affiliates of Girls Inc., Inspiring young girls to be Smart, strong and bold.
They have an excellent and whimsical selection of greeting cards too. Wouldn’t you be delighted to have some pleasing hand cream and get one of these cards when you were in the hospital?

This one shares my other motto: Anything is possible.

Good Form

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When I was in the hospital recovering from ostomy¬†surgery, I was very low emotionally. Despite my attempts to cope, some days I just couldn’t muster up a smile, and felt little comfort in the smiles of others. Some days I felt shame, dull sadness or simply felt sorry for myself.

One day, perhaps on a whim, my parents brought me an artist’s figure. This simple gift turned out to be a coping mechanism for me, helping me face the day. Not only did I spend hours bending and twisting it’s joints, this¬†figure became a tool for communication – acting as a barometer¬†for those that entered my life and my room. Each day I would¬†pose it to reflect my mood. Typically the form’s head was low, or arms crossed, some days the face was in the hands or cradling it’s belly. Other days I lay it face down¬†flat on¬†it’s¬†stomach¬†– something I imaged I would never do again.

One day the fog of my misery cleared and I felt hopeful. I thought about sketching my little wooden friend and about all the other things I would do once I was released and able to restart my life anew. I’ll never forget that day¬†my parents¬†entered my room and saw my little figure, back arched and arms stretched – palms up to the sky. They smiled knowing I’d turned the corner.¬†

Get one for someone you love who’s suffering. It’s the simple things that can turn the day around.

Become who you wish to be

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Start the new year with an artful reminder of what’s most important – being yourself. Become who you wish to be this year.¬†Find this print and other whimsical inspiration art¬†at Etsy

Renew your senses and achieve inner balance

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I just found a bargain on these fantastic soy tin candles. 10 hour burn for just $3.95. mi‚ĄĘ offers more than 40 spellbinding bath and body products. The line‚Äôs luxurious indulgence awakens the senses with its intoxicating Asian-inspired scents from sensuous sake to the aromatic tropical scents of dreamy coconut lemongrass and sweetly-refreshing Yuzu. ‚ÄúWe created our skin care line with the simplest natural ingredients for restoring tranquility to one‚Äôs chaotic lifestyle,‚ÄĚ says mi SPA founder Mimie Wong.

Read Mimie’s story¬†of how she was “Inspired by the thought of renewing our senses and achieving inner balance”

Skirt the issue

High waisted garter skirts and waist cinchers¬†are back!¬†“Skirt the issue” with one of these¬†super cute, sexy cover ups. High enough¬†for great coverage, they give the feeling of support and confidence and¬†adjust to sit where it fits just right. These are my favorite sexy sets. Now available at Victoria’s Secret.

Affirmations

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Notes from fabulous Etsy Artist jessica gonacha: vibrant artwork to brighten your life:

Need a positive reminder that everything always works out exactly as it’s supposed to? Snap up one of these gocco prints to do just that! Frame it and hang it in your bedroom, hang it next to your bathroom mirror, put it up in your office for a daily reminder that all is well…

The prints measure approximately 4×4″ on 5×7″ thick, archival Canson paper. You will love them in person!!