What I learned from Being a Patient
For the first time since I was 21, I had to spend some time in the hospital as a patient.
It was a relatively small procedure – a day surgery. However, it did require me to face a number of “firsts” in my life: “IV’s,” General Anesthesia, stitches and the prospect of unknown pain as experiencing what it is like to be vulnerable and to trust strangers with my health. The whole time I was experiencing these “routine procedures,” I kept thinking of my midwifery clients. Especially those clients requiring or choosing a c-section and how they, like me, may be facing these new things for the first time. This is what I learned and appreciated this week.
I was reminded how some routine procedures like changing from the comfort of your clothes into a gown can challenge your state of autonomy and power. I noticed my sense of vulnerability heighten when asked to remove my chosen clothes and put on a hospital gown. The knowledge that these gowns are specifically designed for ease of accessibility to your body throughout the surgery did little to quell the discomfort that I had less clothing on than anyone else in that room – especially covering my backside!
However, knowledge is power – It helped that I took the time to ask questions and research the procedure myself. I got helpful tidbits of information on recovery and support both from friends and online sources. I also was able to ask more informed questions of the nurses and surgeon before and after the procedure.
Ask LOTS of Questions
– Even if you think you should know the answer. It took being willing to be vulnerable to admit that I did not know how things worked outside the labour and delivery ward of our hospital.
– Bring someone you know and love who will not only be with you and advocate for you but also support you physically.
Remember to Breathe
– Our breath grounds us into our body, especially when we are faced with anxiety or pain, and it enables us to cope. Focusing on my breath allowed me to stay grounded and cooperate with the team of nurses and doctors working on my behalf.
Embrace the Vulnerable Parts
– It was helpful to admit to myself and others that I was afraid and needed support. This gave me lots of opportunities to be supported by the people I knew and by total strangers.
Kindness Came From So Many Places.
Whether it was a knowing look, a gentle touch, or an extra warm blanket on my nervous body. These were lovely gestures of comfort and understanding that I was willing to receive.
PS. It all went well and I have recovered nicely!