Hospital Life : Worried about what other parents say

Honestly, this topic was written today after an encounter I had today in the parents’ kitchen. If your child has ever been admitted in a hospital you will notice that there exists a hot spot within each ward- the parents’ kitchen. It is the one place where all the parents meet. It is like a meeting place. All in the name of needing a well deserved cup of tea or biscuit, parents randomly escape into this place. It is called a kitchen not for the same reason you call the one in your home as no form of real cooking actually takes place within it. It is just a kitchen because it warehouses cups, plates and various cutlery to aid parents’ feeding. You find a kettle situated within it as well as tubs for tea, coffee and sugar.

Some hospitals have a sink and even sofa for relaxation. It can be a place to relax away from the ward. Relationships are struck between parents over cups of coffee. Ideas are exchanged. Some parent come in also to show off their excellent parenting skills. Some come to express their frustrations while others come to listen. The ears they provide may be all another stressed out parent finds comforting. For me, I find it to be very magical. I have received lots of good advice from parents in the kitchen. It is one of the places I dutifully locate as soon as my son is admitted into the hospital.

You see, it is not a beehive of activities all the time. Sometimes, it can be deserted. The level of pressure and care required by kids vary at different times impacting inversely on the number and mood of the parents you find there. When children are very sick and dire, parents tend to sit beside their kids and appear to zap in and out of the room hurriedly. However, as children begin to stabilize and parents start to feel less tense, they begin to realise the boredom of being in the hospital. As a result, they start to be attracted to the parents’ kitchen where they then mingle with other parents.

As much as parents converge here at different times, it can be reassuring to meet parents who have tales to share about their children. Some parents share very personal stories that strengthen and reassure others at various stages of their own journey. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the information shared can be very alarming. New parents and parents with newly diagnosed children are usually the most alarmed. As they struggle to deal with their children’s diagnosis and worry about what lies ahead, information shared by other parents can be anything but comforting.

The stories can be horrifying and can leave them wondering about if these things they hear about will equally and inevitably befall their children. This is quite a normal worry for everyone who hears an alarming tale for the first time. Try not to worry too much about this. Remember that some stories are told to relieve the teller’s frustration about the issue being discussed. It may not be totally factual, it may be exaggerated, it may even be true but will by no means replace what your own health professional has advised. We all tend to carry out an unconscious mental comparison when a child is being discussed by their parent in the parents’ kitchen (or wherever we encounter them)There is no use comparing your child with the child being discussed as you listen. every child is different. The child being discussed may have a totally different illness and so there automatically becomes no basis for comparison. The illness may be the same but because your child is of a different age and unique in his/her own way, there also is no reason to spend valuable time working yourself up by engaging in this unconscious comparison of sorts.

New parents who hear these stories should try not to worry too much about the future prospect of the stories they hear. Most of the parents in question have had enough time to deal with their children’s illnesses and so worrying about your capability and suitability as a parent will be unfair to you because you have not have as much time to deal with the meaning and implication of the diagnosis on your own.

As much as advice is good and information is key to surviving the diagnosis, not all knowledge initially empowers. Sometimes knowledge can weigh you down when there is information overload. For this reason, I agree with the saying that less is more! Accepting little bits of information at a time can help preserve  your sanity all through the process of coping. So stay strong and stay in control.

Thank you for reading!

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