That being said, I have to say that we have seen it all when it comes to visitors. Sharing a room in a hospital not only gives you a glimpse into the patient's life and personality but that of the visitors.
Hospitals have a two per patient visitor rule that they never enforce. They also have a visiting time that they rarely enforce. What we have seen is unless you are in the nurses way you and your entire gang can stay.
We enjoyed the lack of visiting times. Being from out of town it would mean Barry would have nothing else to do, but most importantly he was there when the doctors arrived, in the moment, and got the report first hand. Given the seriousness of the daily reports it was excellent to have him there to hear it all clearly and not from a pained, or drugged state.
There is family and then there are visitors. Visitors give you a break from the mundane routine that a family follows in the hospital. Each day is so long and boring, it is easy to have one day fall into the others without much distinction. That is unless you have a few visitors. It is something to look forward to and it gives you are huge break from the mundane.
Not being from Toronto area, we didn't have visitors this time. The two weeks dragged by and with just the four of us it got pretty tiring. We did our best and got through it but having some outside influence would have helped.
So here's the thing; I want to speak freely about the do's and don't's of visiting from our experiences with our own visitors and those of people we shared the room with.
1. Take the time to visit.
2. Don't stay too long, if you are unsure, ask. As time goes by longer visits are more welcome.
3. Remember if you're in a hospital to keep your voice to a respectable level. Big HA HA's are not really welcome by those in adjoining rooms who are not in on the joke, and perhaps fresh out of surgery, or worse, have received sad news.
4. If, while you're there, other people show up, and you've been there awhile, it's time to leave. The patient may not tell you but it is draining to have a full room of people.
5. Be careful to be patient focussed. I have seen so many people visit with each other while the patient tries to keep up.
6. Talk about other things, but not your problems.
7. Bringing small comforts from home are always welcome. A little note book, a book, some hand cream or hand sanitizer, etc.
8. Don't bring a friend. Seems like common sense but I have seen it each time, bringing someone the patient doesn't know. How awkward. Not the time to be meeting people.
9. If you're from work, don't talk about work. Be general and sensible.
10. Ask the patient what is the best time to visit.
11. If a doctor comes in, or there is a procedure with a nurse, don't wait to be asked, step out for a minute.
12. Remember everyone is different. It doesn't matter if your cousin, sister, friend has had the same surgery, do not compare or offer advice.
13. When you arrive, ask if this is a good time to visit. I saw my roommate struggle with visitors having just been given an enemma! She was so uncomfortable but didn't say a word.
14. Everybody loves kids, but bringing them to a hospital is not always a good idea. If you do, it's a grandchild or child of the patient, make it short. You may not even hear the whining and fusing but an irritated sick person does and shouldn't have to deal with it.
15. A thin curtain separates two or more beds in a hospital room, it doesn't block sound and therefore every conversion is heard by everyone in the room. Consider that when you are talking with the patient. Don't ask the patient about the roommate. The roommate can hear.
16. If you have strong religious beliefs and plan to have a service of some kind, do so in the family room on the floor and not at the bedside when their are roommates.
17. Stay away when you have a cold,flu or virus
Whatever the situation I would say take time out of your day, your week or month and visit. It has meant the world to me to have good friends and family around during this time. The hardest times were those in which there were days on end when we didn't see anyone but doctors and each other. It is hard to cheer anyone up when you're drained and worn out. Friends do just that. They add laughter and hope and it lasts a long time. So thank you to all of you who took the time to be with us. You have been an important part of my healing and have infused new life into my support team.