I was texting a friend last night regarding our mutual friend who was admitted to the hospital yesterday. He mentioned a couple of time his abhorrence of hospitals, which I get! It’s not my fear or phobia, but I realize it’s a legitimate one. Because I can “do” hospitals, that’s what I’ll do for my friend! I would do the same for you.
The same way we all have a superpower, many of us have a massive phobia or two. When you don’t understand someone else’s fear or phobia, it’s easy to mock them, tease them, or think they are crazy. It’s too easy to poo-poo other people’s fears because we don’t understand them. But this is my phobia, as demonstrated in this photo by CBS DFW of LBJ freeway in Dallas:
Personally, I’m terrified of driving by big trucks. Last week a contractor for the LBJ construction managed to jump the median and crush two cars — one on each side! Two people died. I literally flinch when I pass a truck on the highway. Commuting’s a bitch.
What I’m not afraid of is hospitals. In fact, I think I developed a superpower for it. I have a couple of friends who travel a lot, and one of them taught me to take a picture of my car in the hospital parking garage so I can find it. Emotional exhaustion is the greatest enemy of the hospital visitor, so eliminating the aggro of wandering around looking for your car is crucial to a swift exit.
Also, mentally map out the nurse’s station. Knowing where those are makes finding the right room, elevator, ice machine, whatever, much easier. They are laid out in such a way that they always have the best access, so use the nurse’s station to get your bearings.
Despite my hospital-visiting mojo, I find that I’m always disoriented upon leaving. Last night, I left a hospital in an area I’m very familiar with. I made two U-turns on streets that I had driven consistently over the four years I lived in Plano. I just couldn’t reconcile in my brain where I was against the deli I was trying to get to. Maps and apps don’t help. Trust me — visiting a hospital sucks out one’s sense of direction.
Hospital etiquette is also pretty weird. You knock on a person’s door, but you have a sliver of doubt that it’s the wrong room, you go in and it’s the right room, but you never know what you’re going to find. Doctor explaining prognosis? Sleeping patient? Shaved head? People visiting who you don’t know? People visiting who you do know? Nurses measuring urine output? Monitors blaring alarms? You knock, and you go in, and you do so with the expectation of the unexpected. You go in because the patient is less likely to fortify themselves against the constant barrage of the unexpected than you are as a visitor. I go in, despite all my anxiety, to be a little life raft in the storm.
Side note: I’ve been getting Facebook messages from people I don’t know asking about this particular friend. I’m unsure about that etiquette, but I’d like to say: I’ve barely slept, I have other stuff going on, and if he felt well enough to tell you or wanted you to know, he would take your calls or respond to your texts! And also, cool it.
Don’t stalk me on Facebook, person I’ve never heard of who claims to be a friend of my friend. Send a prayer, a good thought, some happy mojo, whatever you do. I’m sure you’re intentions are the best of the best, but contacting me only drains my hospital superpowers. Let me do what I can do for him instead of fretting over a response to you.