Stuck in reverse

I’m not a very patient person. I am unable to sit and just do nothing. Only if everything has been done, then I can sit down and so nothing. I like plans, I like things to look forward to. You can imagine how well I am coping at the moment with the way things are. I’m feeling better, but not all better, and I’m getting frustrated that things are still not right which is ridiculous given I had surgery about 7 minutes ago. I’m annoyed that our holiday plans didn’t work out and that I’m not in Melbourne right now. Most of all I’m feeling so sorry for my poor brother in law and sister.

They are still stuck in hospital (day 10 but who’s counting right?). Just when things go forward there seems to be a set back. He is stuck in St Vincents hospital which is a big inner city hospital in Sydney. It’s the place that people in the city are sent to and seems to house quite a population of homeless people, mentally ill people, old people, lonely people. He is in a ward and has shared it with quite a motley crew. A young man who was recovering from surgery of some kind who watched shoot em up American movies LOUD. Really loudly. So loudly that you couldn’t believe it would even be allowed. Someone else who coughed up phlegm the entire time. In between complaining and swearing that he hasn’t had any pot for days swearing and shouting. An old woman who calls out “Help me, please, someone help me” every 15- 30 seconds, asking for help to the toilet, or for someone to hold her hand. It’s very frustrating and certainly depressing circumstances when you are already feeling like shit with a head injury. When all you want is some peace. And darkness. And time so you can heal. There are memory tests each day, and if one thing is missed, then it’s back to the start as he has to get them correct for 3 days in a row before they can even think about letting him out. Yesterday there was a new test – counting backwards from 200 in SEVENS for God’s sake. He failed, of course he failed, I would get to 193 and then be screwed and I suggest most people would too. Each day the same. No end in sight. Doctors that stop in for a moment and nurses that need constant chasing for medication. I don’t know how they coping with it all. The sheer mental exercise of staying sane when you already feel so poorly. My sister’s life is on hold. All day in the hospital trying to be positive and just company, then home again to my Mum’s empty house. Then to do it all over again. The same compliants from different people, the same ward, the same over tired and cranky nurses. Urgh…the whole thing just makes me sad and sick with worry.

Hopefully in the next few days there is some more progress. I suppose when people are in really tough places you just dig deep and suck it up and get on with it because there’s nothing else to do is there? I’m not someone who prays but gee I’d like for things to get better for them. They need a break. They need something to be good for a change. They need something to look forward to. An out date. To get home. And shower in their shower, sleep in their own beds and move forward.

What do you do when things are shithouse? Got any advice?

I know this seems like a whiny first world problem post and that’s because it is. Of course I am grateful that we live somewhere that care is available for all people – that hospitals and doctors and nurses are there for anyone – and that they are helping my family (and me) but I just wish that things were different. You know?


  1. i know…i totally know.
    sending love & courage to all of you.

  2. It sounds terrible no wonder nurses are asking for better conditions to be able to care better. I woud fail that count down too.
    I hope they get home soon. I hope you feel better too .

  3. When things are shithouse I outsource as much as possible and stick to getting the basics done – try to eat well, sleep and shower regularly. Fingers crossed he gets to go home soon, poor guy.

  4. Poor fella! I WAS one of those ‘cranky nurses’ once but now I don’t do shift work!
    I’m thinking ear plugs/ iPod(soothing music only), eye mask, & maybe something decent to eat?
    Also, a little bit of banging on about what a good job the Nurses a doing in shit conditions might not go astray. It’s nice to feel appreciated, but they probably wouldn’t believe you anyway.
    Do they have a Patient Garden he could escape to for short amounts of time? No private rooms to nag them about?
    It’s awful, I know. The system can really suck sometimes. For everybody.
    Fingers crossed for Discharge tomorrow. x

  5. whiny, no not really, I was whiny yesterday when I was bitching and moaning about a 4hr delay getting home from a fabulous weekend at Blogopolis. That is whiny. You’re just sharing how unfortunately trying being in hospital can be, and how awful it is when that has the potential to become your normal. I hope he passes his three days really soon.

  6. Hoping things are better soon honey cx

  7. Yuck! Sounds horrible. When you are feeling sick and vulnerable, it doesn’t take much to set you back. When my mum had a triple by-pass recently, 99% of health care professionals were wonderful, but one was just plain nasty and said to my mum “do you think I’m paid to look after you lot!” Feeling stressed, afraid and helpless definitely affects your recovery.
    200, 193, hmmm…. No, I wouldn’t be able to do it either.
    Hope things get better soon. Xx

  8. Anonymous says

    Get your brother in law to tell the staff he is VRE+ and forgot to tell them. He will be moved into a single room quick smart. Or fake some gastro = single room.

    Hope things at your end start to improve soon.

  9. I can sympathise on both counts…

    I had my gall bladder out about 7 years ago and the recovery was yuck. More yuck than they told me it would be. But hang in there, it will improve I promise.

    I also have just spent 9 days in hospital with my sick little 6 month old bubba, and the whilst I had a private room for some of the time, I also experienced the joys that only a shared ward can often bring.

    Is there any chance of your brother in law being transferred to St Vincents Private? Or to another private hospital? He would only need to find a specialist with admitting rights to the hospital of his choice (and private health cover), and then would be able to recover in a little bit more peace.

    Sending you all best wishes for speedy recoveries xx

  10. That seriously sucks Beth. I tried to count back from 200s in 7s and had to use my fingers…and got to 151 and gave up. Can’t even imagine having to do it with a brain injury. I hope your sister asked the doctor to do it too. What a fecked situation.
    Fingers crossed for them – and I hope that they strike it lucky with an awesome nurse who helps them get out of that god-awful place. Thinking of you. X

  11. When things are crap, really crap, I just go with it and hope that things improve fast. During the most unhappy awful times in my life I just told myself soon this would be over and that when it was I would be grateful and find joy in the tiniest things.

    Being alone or lonely during life’s challenging times is infinitely worse.

    I have never been in a shared ward and would not ever like to be.

    When I cannot find serenity and acceptance through Sheer Force of Will I turn to this Old Stalwarts booze, cheesecake and cigarettes.

    They aren’t the perfect solution, but they’ll do.

  12. you have a trip to NYC to look forward to ? yes?

  13. he could practice counting backwards in 7’s…I am now, in case I ever need it to get out of hospital. What an impossible and meaningless test.
    I’ve spent a bit of time in hospitals (in UK, but there are probably similarities) and hugely appreciate the health care system we have, but have found that for me and my child the real healing happens when you get home and can rest.I hope that happens soon. And that you heal quickly too.

  14. What I do is cry and then I get hot salty fries and and iPad.

    Who knew?

    And I don’t think anyone can count backwards from 200 by sevens. I reckon it is a trick to see if he is a robot

  15. I am sitting here trying to count backwards from 200…it is tough. In crappy times I often turn to learning a new trick, be it knitting, suduko, counting backwards from 200…mind filling things so I don’t think of the other thing.

  16. It is not whiny or first world in the slightest. As soon as you have a family member who is in hospital with no end date in sight your whole world gets stopped, turned on its head, reversed and every other which way. It is a stress unlike any other – a mix of worry, anxiety, anger, boredom and resentment.

    But I’m going to say something here – YOU HAVE JUST HAD MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY. If you do not take it INCREDIBLY easy NOW you are going to have issues when you should be scarfing down as much transfat and culture as humanly possible.

    I know you know this, but your mum is out of the country and someone needs to be using some parental tones with you.

    You know it’s because I love you right? Also, can you text/email me your mum’s address?


  17. OH – and tips and tricks to get through it? Download movies and whole tv series – they soak up time in a good way. Books and stuff require too much brain power. If she’s a crafter then crochet is good.

  18. Your poor BIL and sis. I hope things are looking up soon, Beth. Vinnies is hard nut territory.

    As for you (young lady), I know KAZACTLY how you feel right now. Hello? Two weeks flat on my back and far out I was impatient and cross. That was the first week. The second week I surrendered to Pinterest and fell in love and it was really rather bearable. Almost look back with fondness, or, at least, I might if looking back didn’t remind me mostly of teeth clenching paaaaain.

    Hope you’re all better soon. x

  19. Thinking of ya Xx

  20. Yes, I second Kim…you still need to take it easy! I did not take it easy after I got my appendix taken out and I ended up back in hospital and had to stay there for two weeks. It was the worst.

    In terms of passing time for both you and your brother in law, I would recommend downloading tv shows…Revenge is great, The Killing is good too, and of course Downton Abbey is worth watching.

    Does your sister have private health cover? Transferring to a private hospital is probably the best way to get out of there and to get some peace.
    Is he on a neurological ward? It sounds like he is on some sort of general ward. If he could get transferred to a neuro ward the care might be better as they deal only with patients with head and spine injuries.
    If he is not hooked up to lots of IVs then just escaping the ward can bring some relief too. The doctors usually do their rounds first thing in the morning, the nurses can tell him when his next round of medications are due and then as long as he lets them know that he is heading off he ward he should be free to wander and get a coffee. Taking little walks kept me sane when Baby C was in hospital and I was in there with him.

    Hope everyone is feeling better soon!

  21. I try to remind myself it won’t be shithouse forever, that this is how it is for now, not forever. It helps stop my from throwing a full on pity party for myself. It’s hard but….

    I hope things look up real soon because they will you know…xx

  22. That is extremely shithouse.
    Hospitals can be scary places. I’ve never been on a shared ward, but the whole experience is so rubbish, and everything seems to take so long. Especially being given the all clear! I really hope he gets out soon.

  23. I can only echo the words of everyone else here, Beth – especially Kim’s. Please make sure you look after YOU. You’re no good to anyone if you’re back in hospital with complications.

    And counting back by seven’s? Jaysus. Who the f*ck can do that? I hope things get better for your BIL and sister very soon. My suggestions for good TV would be Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy or Dexter. Always worth a look.


  24. Anonymous says

    You should try working there.!!
    Lucy and Chris will get thru this and they will be much stronger for it.
    “Is solace anywhere more comforting than that in the arms of a sister”

  25. I’m a current nursing student. it breaks my heart to hear how the staff treat patients. I know (and from experience) that the right staff are given isn’t grand – let alone out health care system.
    However I hope that when I graduate and years into the future, i never forget how the only reason I wanted to become a nurse (as a second career) is because of the service I heard people experience in our hospitals.
    Simplying holding a patients hand – is treating them. Yes there is time management in hospitals as a nursing staff. but there is also humanity. and may I never loose my self of that. Simply asking another patient to turn their tv down isn’t hard. Nore is checking in to make sure everything is okay.
    In a turma situation – it’s not hard to ask the spouse if they can help rather than make them sit in a waiting room minutes going by not having yet seen their loved one. It just down right pisses me off that you feel this way.
    I really do hope for a speeding recovering for you’re bother in-law. And as said – the best recovery happens at home. More importantly – health staff need to put the patient in the best possible position for self-healing.

  26. I hear you, I hear you! My mum spent time in St Vincents a couple of years ago – she was there for about a week before Dad had her moved to the private one next door because of exactly what you’re talking about. It was quieter there but you still had the same issues, just in different rooms. We could hear it all going on but so not the same as being in the same room. I hate hospitals. I booked myself out from having my second child exactly 24 hours after I had her. Would have done that with the first one except I had a few complications and had to stay. I had back surgery last year and couldn’t wait to get out. Yes, the showering in your own shower, making yourself a cup of tea in your own cup, sleeping your own pillow in your own bed. WITH NO OTHER STRANGE PEOPLE! Sympathetic thoughts for your family….
    Stay strong, it’ll get better and humour always helps. Just keep being you – you have no idea how much that’s helping xo

  27. Oh lady, I can understand your frustration about your poor sis and brother-in-law’s horrible situation. I agree, St Vincent’s isn’t somewhere I’d like to be for more than say 25 minutes. Is it not possible for him to be moved to another hospital? I really feel for him and your sis too. At the end of the day there is nothing like being in your own surrounds for recovery, I really hope he can get passed those ridiculous tests asap and get back home. And as for your recovery, I know what you mean, after my c-sections I was like wanting to get back into EVERYTHING straight away and after surgery, it just don’t roll that way my friend. Hugs xo

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