Last week, I spent a lot of time in hospitals for both family and friends. Once the dust settled and I could take a breath, I was talking with my husband about a few things that helped me survive, and a few things that I learned how to do differently for next time. Whether you find yourself in the hospital for a birth, an unexpended surgery, or you're visiting a family member or friend, here are some useful tips:
1. Designate your PR person.
In the middle of a crisis, everyone needs information from you, and while having a supportive network of friends is helpful, it's also stressful having your phone buzz every second, and feeling like you need to get back to everyone with updated information. Next time, I would designate my PR person, aka my husband, to be the relayer of information to people who need it and/or are asking for it. This would free me up from feeling overwhelmed with keeping up with the communication, and allow everyone to get information in a more timely way.
2. Similarly, when communicating with people, do so in groups.
There is no time for the individual response when in a crisis. All your friends need all the updated information, and now. Utilize the group text. Many people may text you asking for an update. While thoughtful and appreciated, there may simply not be enough time to get back to each person. Update everyone at once, or have your PR person do it, and release yourself from the guilt of not responding to everyone individually.
3. While taking care of others, also remember to take care of yourself.
You may get so caught up with other people's needs at this time that you forget to take care of yourself. This is the oxygen-mask-on-a-plane analogy here; take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. Remember to nourish yourself with enough food, sleep, and water so that you can give yourself the best shot for functioning well. You may feel completely drained, both physically and emotionally, and it's important to remember to be extra good to yourself during this time.
4. When in the hospital, add three hours to any estimated time given.
It seems like everything is delayed when on hospital time. With each time estimate that was given, it seemed like it took at least three hours more than that estimate (And sometimes days! Especially when going home.) Allow for extra time and expect that it will take longer. This will greatly increase your patience.
5. Make it as fun as possible.
Being in the hospital is sometimes not very fun. So, if your situation allows, throw your own party. Go get coffees for everyone, run out for ice cream, or meet up with a friend to grab a drink as a break. It's important to remember that there is no one right or wrong way to survive a crisis, everyone does it differently. For me, it's helpful to stay positive, laugh, and have fun to get through the tough days. That may look different for other people that you're with. Acknowledge that everyone has their own way of coping, and ultimately do what works for you.