My father was hospitalised 3 times. Once for a coronary bypass, then for a haemothorax (blood on the lung) after the bypass, and lastly to have ventricular defibrillator inserted.
Each time he would want a private room. I suppose like all of us he liked his privacy. Like all of us it was easier to sleep if there was no one else coughing or snoring. During the day, and at visiting hours, it also meant that the other patient’s visitors would not bother you.
Sometime it’s better to be in a general ward. I should remember this for myself. Illness spares no one and no social class. As much as their snoring, coughing or visitors might bother us, remember that our snoring, coughing and visitors may bother them as much.
When you are alone, you focus on yourself. Unless you are a master at meditation and prayer, then focusing on yourself, and your illness, is not a good thing. Also you tend to get the same visitors. Some who care, some who come to eat your chocolates and some who come to gloat that you are ill. It may be the visitor of the patient next door who brings a ray of sunshine into your heart.
Being ill is like being in a battle. It’s better to be fighting alongside someone. Mostly visitors are like war correspondents, sometimes they do understand but they really just have a job to do.
All the times I have been hospitalised since I have become a doctor have seen me in private rooms. It’s a privilege we are accorded. But before I became a doctor I spent some time in a large general ward. Sometimes the patients around me were like pets. Their gentle snoring and shuffling under the bed sheets made it feel like home.
Being in that ward taught me two things at the same time. That I was just like everybody else, and that I as very special. I think if I was alone at that time I would think I was just a failure. One of the memorable visitors that I received during that period was when my mother would bring Kristen, my Collie, for visits. She would wait in the car and we would go sit on the lawn of the hospital grounds and throw Frisbee. Animals make good visitors. They are happy to see you, irrespective of how you feel. They do not look awkward, or sit in silence straining to say something that will make you feel better. They also do not eat your chocolates.
Animals should be compulsory visitors in hospitals. They should even allow them on the hospital beds.