If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), you are fairly likely to end up in hospital at least once. Whilst it’s true that few actually enjoy going to the hospital, that doesn’t mean you can’t turn the experience around from being ‘barely tolerable’ to ‘productive and kind of relaxing’. So if you can get past the reason you’re going (hopefully it’s not too serious) and that strange, distinctive smell, you might just be able to shift your perception and see hospital trips in a whole new light.
Use the time to rest
You’re in hospital to get better. Being rested reduces your levels of stress, calms your digestive system and can minimise symptom flare ups. That means rest – not madly trying to squeeze in work emails and stressing about your wedding, birthday or weekend plans. If you succeed in making rest a priority, this can ideally make your stay shorter. Whilst we agree that hospital rooms aren’t the most tranquil places on earth, that doesn’t prevent you from creating a personal bubble of Zen-like calm. Meditation can be done anywhere, so investigate some options – be it a YouTube video or an audio track on your iPod. At the end of the day, being in hospital is the perfect excuse to be selfish and clear your mind of all distractions, so grab that opportunity to achieve mental nirvana while it lasts!
If you’re the kind of person who loves catching up with friends and family over coffee, think of the hospital as your new go-to espresso bar. Getting your favourite people to come see you isn’t about being showered with flowers and chocolates, it’s your chance to do a bit of socialising, catch up on gossip or just simply have a laugh. The positive impact of being in good company can do wonders for your state of mind, so see if you can schedule in all your BFFs over the course of a week to keep the good times rolling.
Make fun compulsory
Fun should definitely be at the top of your to do list. Just because you’re holed up in a ward doesn’t mean you have to stop doing your favourite things. Ask your partner or bestie for a hand massage, paint your nails, play video games on your phone, have a really long phone conversation with an old friend, re-read your favourite book, ask your work colleagues to send you a curated playlist of hilarious YouTube videos… do you see the possibilities yet? Schedule the time in daily, look forward to your mandatory fun periods and just enjoy being in the moment (even if the moment is in ward C).
There exists no greater comfort on earth than a good pair of pyjamas (going to hospital could even act as justification for splashing out on a fancy new pair). Making sure you’re comfortable is the least you could do for yourself during a hospital visit. Depending on the length of your stay (hopefully it’s not too long), you might want to bring along some things to make you feel more at home, like a bedside photo, your favourite cologne, a hot bean bag and of course your best pair of jammies.
Remember that hospitals are staffed by the country’s best and most-knowledgeable health professionals. This allows for an invaluable hub of wisdom concerning all things health and wellness. Investigate your options, there may exist opportunities for you to have consultations concerning health issues other than your IBD. For example, some hospitals offer support services for people struggling with social or emotional issues, whilst others can assist with alcohol and tobacco dependence. So whilst your IBD may be the reason you’re visiting, take the time to find out what other health programs and services you can take advantage of during your stay.
Too often we neglect to see how being out in public provides us the chance to meet new, interesting people. Hospitals are packed with people from all walks of life. You never know, that patient in the bed next to you might have life experiences to share (they might even be your future spouse!) The same can be said of the staff, and by simply having a friendly and professional relationship with those around you can make the entire ordeal that much more bearable. If you open yourself up to meeting new people, you’ll soon find that hospitals are full of quirky, respectful, friendly and passionate people (hey, didn’t they make a sitcom about that already?)
Date: 22/09/2014 IRIS number AU-REM0328