The past week has been a rough one for the family, but thanks to the prayers and support of friends and relatives, Antares has pulled through and is now on the road to full recovery. But do wait till he's much stronger before visiting him at the hospital.
With this good news I feel it's the right time for me to share some do's and don'ts for well-meaning folks planning to visit a patient in the ICU. I've compiled this list based on my personal observations over the past few days, and also on my own experience in the ICU last year.
- sit in on the doctor's medical briefings for the family. No doctor would invite an outsider unless the latter is a medical professional who has something vital to contribute.
- prescribe alternative therapies or MLM-type health products for the patient. By doing so, you only confuse the patient's family and put unwanted pressure on them. Let the doctors do the job they have been trained for. They are in the best position to administer the appropriate treatment as they have access to the patient's test results and know the patient's medical condition.
- visit the patient in the ICU, especially if he is under sedation. He won't even know you are there. Besides, you may be exposing him to bacterial infection and you may even be at risk of getting infected! This was a major concern of the doctors. All the more so as visitors to the ICU at this particular hospital for infectious diseases are not required to wear a facial mask. I found this rather shocking.
- pose as family members or medical doctors in order to gain access to the patient or patient's medical records. When the real family members turn up, the busy doctors are understandably reluctant to have to repeat the medical updates all over again.
- post confidential medical details of the patient on social networking sites for all and sundry to read. Only the immediate family has the right to do this, if they choose to.
- call up the family at odd hours to inquire about the patient, or worse still, get into an argument about the best course of action to take.
- insult family members by calling them names. This is totally unacceptable and unwarranted. The focus should be on the patient's speedy recovery, not on petty issues blown up by bruised egos.
- respect the wishes of the patient's family. Often these wishes are also the wishes of the patient himself. He may not want friends to see him in a weakened state with tubes sticking out all over. Also, he may not have the energy yet to deal with a constant stream of visitors.
- pray for the patient and send him empowering thoughts and feelings. This is the best approach and the most effective when the patient is still in the ICU.
- wait till the patient is in the general ward and is strong enough to receive visits from friends. Once the family receives the doctor's all-clear signal for visits, the good news will be relayed to friends and relatives.
- check all info before relaying it to others. The most reliable source of info is from the patient's family. A sicko 'friend' posted an entry on a blog a few days ago announcing the demise of our loved one!! Think of how distressed we were when we read it.
To all friends and relatives who have supported us through the ordeal, thank you again. And for the coming new year, may we all look forward to enjoying GOOD HEALTH the whole year through and beyond.