Always a tricky one this. We all want hospital visitors. Let’s face it, if we’re so bored that we’re reduced to putting down Take a Break to watch someone empty the bin, then it’s pretty clear someone from the outside arriving to actually talk to us will be the high point of the day. Or will it?
The problem with visitors unless they are your nearest and dearest, conversations run dry pretty quickly. Here is a typical example:
Visitor: Hi! You’re looking well (blatant lie). How are you doing?
Patient: Oh not so bad (another blatant lie).
Visitor: How did the test go/what did the doctor say/when will you be out?
There will then follow three minutes of conversation in which you draw out in great detail the one minute conversation you had with the doctor this morning.
Patient: So how are you?
Visitor: Oh fine, fine.
Patient: Any news?
Visitor: No not really.
Right so now you’re at most six minutes into your visit and you have at least another 30 before your hospital visitor can reasonably leave, safe in the warm feeling that they’ve done their duty by coming in to cheer you up.
And then there’s the tricky issue of what they bring with them. Because they want to bring something. To arrive at a hospital visit without a gift is a bit like being invited to dinner and not bringing a bottle. Except they can’t really turn up on the renal ward with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Flowers? Well that used to be the easy option, but nowadays most wards don’t want them. They’re apparently a hygiene risk. Along with a load of other hygiene risks that most people ignore of course …but frankly flowers are messy, require vases, drop petals …and when you’re ill any strong smells can tip you over a vomit inducing edge. So no thanks to flowers.
Magazines? Newspapers? Books? Yes please. But be prepared, as a patient to see your hospital visitor in a whole new light. You expected the Daily Mail, he brought the Guardian. You thought you’d get Vogue, you got Chat magazine. Their choice of what they bring you to read says something about them …or about what they think about you! No pressure then Visitors.
Food. Ah yes. Even worse. They won’t know what special diet you’re on. So if you’re on low salt, they’ll bring crisps, low potassium you’ll get bananas and ‘I thought you’d be missing your skinny lattes’, restricted fluids you’ll get a nice big bottle of lemonade to wink at you from your bedside cabinet. With every visit your table piles higher and higher with forbidden food until the nurse comes over and tells you in no uncertain terms that if you don’t sort your diet out, they’ll stop the IV insulin. (*IT WASN’T MY FAULT. SOMEONE BOUGHT IT ME!!!!*)
If you’re in for a particularly long spell, you may find your gifts get more and more imaginative (or bizarre). I recently got a Lego campervan, two origami kits, a paint by numbers, and a Rubiks cube. Think I may have been doing some moaning about being bored. I didn’t finish any of them while I was actually on the ward ….but it did give us all something to talk about.
Expect many pauses. Some will be extended while you both listen intently to what visitors to the next bed have to say. And what the doctor said to them on the round. And to see what gift they got.
And of course your visit ends with more blatant lies.
Patient: Good to see you
Visitor: You too. I’ll tell everyone how well you’re looking.