After a Health Care Crisis

I’m sitting in a darkened room listening to my father gently snore. He’s exhausted after a morning of physical and occupational therapy to attack the results of the stroke he had one week ago. Right now, I’m still in crisis mode. Far from home, trying to get a few things done for my clients and focusing on my dad. I’ve been at his bedside for long hours making sure he receives good care and that his spirits stay strong. This is our “time out of time” before we face our new reality. Slowly, I need to start re-entering my world, the world I left behind.

Here are my suggestions to myself and to you when you find yourself coming down from a healthcare crisis.

This has been a crazy time. You have gone all out. Remember that this pace is not permanent and it’s not sustainable. As hard as it is, start making time to think about what comes next.

Up until now you may have been operating on auto-pilot. So many things to do doesn’t leave much time for reflection or feeling. Wildly fluctuating emotions are normal. Feeling numb and wrung out are normal too. Find some time to tune in to your feelings. Considering listening to that sad song that always brings tears to your eyes to get in touch with some of the sadness and overwhelm you may be feeling. When you are feeling good and strong, work to amplify that feeling by savoring it.

Be honest about what works and doesn’t work for you. What do you absolutely need to be different? What on thing that didn’t work for me was talking to my husband at the end of my long day. His suggestions and questions that normally would support and help me, were falling on tired and really cranky ears. We switched our phone calls to the morning when I was fresh and could receive the support I so desperately needed.

Reach out to supportive friends and tell your story. There is no greater gift you can receive then being deeply listened to. After receiving this gift, all you can do is find the opportunity to pass it on to someone else when they really need it.

Start thinking about the next transition for your family member. What are all your questions and concerns? What are you worried about? What is your family member worried about? Make a list of all your questions. Get them out of your brain and on to paper. Circumstances and changes to your family member’s condition will answer some of your questions for you. As the days pass and the next step comes closer, you can start getting the answers you need from the medical professionals, advisors, friends and family that are around you.

Coming down from a health care crisis isn’t easy for anyone involved. Give yourself time to adjust to what’s needed now. Try to create a cushion for yourself so you have time for taking care of yourself, a transition space from the crisis back to more of your normal day-to-day life.

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