Something that you don’t really think about or appreciate until it happens to you, is the effect being a long term hospital resident has on your mental state.
We were incredibly privileged to be put up by SSNAP For the duration of our stay at JR. I’ll be honest, the room wasn’t great – damp up the walls, smelled of damp, two camp beds with truly dreadful mattresses… but we didn’t really spend that much time there, and it was a million miles better than being an hour away from Dominic every evening. To be fair, I didn’t even really notice the room until Dominic started getting better and we fell into more of a routine about 2 weeks in.
The first week was crazy. There was so much going on that we just didn’t have time to think. I was still recovering, Dominic was on a conveyor belt of surgeries and procedures and James was kind of left looking after us both. At 10 days everything had calmed down somewhat and we just sort of fell into a daily routine 12-14 hours at the hospital before walking back to the accommodation, eating then passing out completely exhausted.
There were a few really odd days when I left the hospital to go get some food in the middle of the day – I was always completely surprised at the fact it was warm and sunny. Daylight had become a complete novelty!
Unfortunately, the lack of progress and the sameness of every single day starts to drive you mad. You become exhausted more quickly, little things start to upset you (no sugar in the kitchen, no fresh vegetables in your diet) and generally I just started to feel like I would never be able to cope. I would class it as a complete hopelessness settling around my soul. It was at that point, I left the hospital and went home for the night.
Oh my god did I cry?! The guilt, the tiredness, the fact that we were so far away – what if something happened?! All the way home I cried. We stopped at Tesco and James bought a joint of beef and some real vegetables and some wine so when we got home – we could have a roast dinner.
We arrived late – probably 11pm (it took awhile to coerce me out of the hospital) into all of the baby stuff set out in the front room that I’d never had a chance to put away. Queue even more tears…. so I poured a glass of wine, got in the bath and James started cooking. And then an amazing thing happened…… I chilled the F*** out for the first time since giving birth, I ate real vegetables and incredible roast potatoes and wonderful roast beef, expressed then FELL ASLEEP. Not that half asleep, totally stressed out of your head on an uncomfortable mattress sleep – real sleep. In the morning I was like a human again.
When we got back to the hospital and nothing bad had happened, Dominic was still there in his little plastic box sleeping away… I felt almost healthy and that actually – we could do this, I could do this, Dominic would eventually come home and everything would be ok.
Hope is the most important thing you have going for you when you are stuck in SCBU. With it, you can deal with everything – without it, you can deal with nothing.
My advice to anyone doing a long term stint in hospital like that? Go home once a week and get some proper sleep. If you can do it before you fall off the planet (unlike me) even better!