Advocacy in the Hospital
I have been in the hospital several times now myself and I have also been with my closest family in the hospital. The first time I went to the hospital for care I did not want to burden anybody with having to sit around in a sterile room watching me and asking if I needed anything. I quickly learned I desperately needed support and asked family to come, who showed up in minutes (pretty sure they were waiting nearby).
I’ve been with my husband when he got appendicitis, my sister when she broke her arm, and my mother when she was passing, in addition to the 70 plus days I have sat with my son. The thing I have learned from being both the one in the bed and the one in the chair nearby, is the one in the chair plays an incredibly important role in the care of the bed layer. Aside from the importance of offering support and comfort, is the role of playing the advocate on behalf of the person who is sick or injured.
The best doctors and nurses in our NICU were the ones who looked at me when asking questions about my son. They knew I was the consistent one, I would notice any changes, I knew if he had gotten better or worse from the day before, and I would know if there had been the slightest change because I had one focus—my child.
The role of an advocate in the hospital is not there because the hospital staff is bad, or unqualified, it is because they are human. I can’t tell you how many times I called for my mother’s meds because she was past due, or how many times I was the one to help the nurse update my sons chart as I recounted at what time and how many ounces he had drank. And when I lied in bed in pain after delivery of my son it was my family who spoke up and said something was wrong.
Hospital staff are overworked and undervalued in my opinion. They are also people. People who have off days, who get tired, who take on too much and although I knew some of the staff did not appreciate all of my questions, or involvement with my son’s care, the best of them truly valued it. They didn’t need to be proud, or even right, they just wanted their patient to have the best care.
The role of the person in the chair is not judge or jury, it’s not a martyr who is there 24/7 and never sleeps or eats, it is the attentive and loving care taker that supports their baby, their parent, their friend as well as the team serving them. I truly find this role to be a privilege, not a burden. I am being allowed to fight beside someone whether it is through pain, through healing, or through a gracious ending of life. We all deserve to have a chair sitter; an advocate; a teammate in our fight.