Yesterday, I was visiting a friend of mine who was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic following cancer treatment. She was looking good and upbeat and I was glad to catch up with her after all these months. In course of our talk, I learned so many things about how being in a clinic can affect one’s life, not only as a patient, but also as family and friends of the patient.
A patient is caught between uncertainty and hope. My friend was in a beautiful private clinic with lovely gardens and friendly staff and even a pool. There is no canteen but a restaurant where patients and their guests can dine on good food chosen from 3 different menus. Yet my friend is longing to go back home where she has to do all the housework plus the cooking.
A patient feels like a patient even in such luxurious amiable surroundings. There is no place like home and for many patients, the prospect of not being able to go home again is difficult to accept. Yet he or she must prepare herself/himself for this eventuality.
One thing that makes life for a patient even more difficult is strained personal relationship that somehow gets even worse under such circumstances.
The family has to learn to cope without the patient while he or she is undergoing treatment or convalescing. If it is the wife/mother who is the patient, then the husband and children have to pitch in and take care of the household temporarily. If it is the husband/father, the mother has to perform all parental duties alone for a while. If the patient is the sole breadwinner of the family, then the healthy partner/spouse has to take over the financial responsibilities for a while. In this case, sometimes the role reversal opens a spouse’s/partner’s/child’s eyes to the important role of the patient in their lives. My friend’s husband finally realized how difficult it had been all these years for her to do the laundry without a tumble dryer. Another friend whose husband is undergoing chemotherapy was called for a meeting to her son’s kindergarten. The boy has been telling the whole class that he and his mom might have to live on the streets if his dad doesn’t recover.
But it is not only about the housework or the finances. My friend’s 12-year old son is sad to come home to a cold empty house and badly misses his mom’s presence. Let this be a lesson to all of us. We seldom appreciate how important our mom, our dad, our wife, our husband, our partner, our child, our sister, our brother, our friend to us until he or she is not around, whether temporarily or permanently.
Show your appreciation – now!