From Dr. Jane's Notebook

When Illness Strikes

Not long ago, while preparing to attend a professional conference in Washington, D.C., I learned that my Father had been admitted to a hospital in Florida for emergency cardiac pacemaker surgery. After recovering from the initial shock of this news, I scrapped my Washington plans and grabbed a seat on the next plane to Florida to be with my parents. Fortunately, I arrived at the hospital in time to speak with the surgeon just as the surgery was being completed. I am very grateful that my Father is now home and doing well. Looking back, it was a week filled with many learning experiences. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.

When illness or injury strikes, it is easy to feel helpless and become paralyzed with worry. But this is not the time to be shy and submissive. Rather it is a time to ask questions and organize around your loved one. When someone is hospitalized, their absence leaves many unattended needs.  Accept help from others and offer to help in whatever ways you can.

Thinking ahead, it’s a good idea to make “just in case” plans with someone who is close to you. A few years ago, I met the members of two families who had agreed to be “on call” for each other in case of emergency. They exchanged lists of emergency telephone numbers, agreed to reimburse each other for expenses, and swapped house keys, just in case. Several months later, when just such an occasion arose, everyone knew what to do and who to call. As a result, nobody panicked and they were able to focus their attention where it needed to go. Times of illness and injury will probably always be stressful, but a little forethought and planning can help a lot.

©Copyright, 2005, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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