The Hope in Hospitals

My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”

You’re quirking your eyebrows at that title, I can just tell.

Yes, yes, yes. This is still me writing this post. The mostly-crunchy, wannabe hippie-type chick. The same girl who writes about natural healing, real food, and the horrors of modern medicine.

And, no, “hope” is not the first word that comes to mind for me when I think of hospitals.

Needles. Pain. Really bad food. Sleepless nights. Annoying IV carts. More needles. More pain. Drugs…

Those are all things that come to mind for me.

But hope??

Seems like a stretch. For me, at least.

Maybe it’s because illness suckers me down into depression. When I get sick, all I want to do is blame myself (and die. There’s always a lot of that going on too). But all I seem to be able to think about is what I could have, or should have, done differently to prevent the illness. Ending up in a hospital just seems like complete and utter failure.

Whether that is a reasonable or rational mindset to have doesn’t factor in much.

I could go on a tirade here about why physical illness leads to depression – that our bodies are so amazingly and intricately interconnected that any illness effects virtually every part of the body. There’s no such thing as an ailment that only affects you physically; everything has farther-reaching effects than that, and physical illness has a way of sneaking its way into the mental, emotional, and, yes, even spiritual, realm and doing a number on you that way as well.

But knowing why illness spirals me down into depression – and that it’s a normal reaction to have – doesn’t help much in the midst of it all.

I suppose I should backtrack a little here, in case you’re slightly (or very) lost…

I got sick a month or so ago (see this post, and if you need even more info than that you better go back to the beginning and start with this one.)

Over the course of two or three weeks things got progressively worse (or at least progressively not better), and I ended up spending a few days in the hospital.

I knew that things were going downhill when I found myself thinking that I should write some letters to my family. For when I was gone.

Gone as in dead.

And by the time the Ant dragged my sorry rearend to the ER, my answer to most of her questions had turned into “just take me out back and shoot me.”

“How are you feeling today? Are you staying hydrated? What’s the pain level? Do you think we should take you to the hospital?”

“Just take me out back and shoot me!” *Tears*

It’s a hard mindset to explain. It’s not suicidal, it’s just… emotionally exhausted. Sick of being sick. That’s where I was at. A sort of: “If this is gonna be the rest of my life, let’s just not.”

So that’s the lovely frame of mind I was in when we went to the ER.

And I’m not saying that the hospital cured me of that frame of mind, but throughout that whole long day in the ER, and the subsequent, just-as-long nights and days in the hospital – something crazy happened.

I started to hope.

I remember it hitting me full force my first night. I was lying awake, tethered by a needle in my hand to a bulky IV cart next to the bed, unable to lay on my side because I was still in a lot of pain, completely tired and exhausted and yet unable to sleep.

And I started to hope.

I started to see a future for myself. A future that lasted longer than the next few pain-filled days and weeks, that is.

Perhaps it was the extra hydration. Maybe it was knowing that the meds they were pumping into my bloodstream would eventually help me feel better. Maybe it was just knowing that something was being done. I don’t know what it was, really.

I just know that I started to hope. And that hope surprised me.

That’s not to say the days that followed were easy. They weren’t. There were plenty of tears shed. There were many, many hopeless moments.

In fact, chocolate and sugar (or at least the thought of chocolate and sugar) was the only thing that kept me going for a few days there.

But that light at the end of the tunnel had been lit. A switch in my brain had been somehow been flipped at the hospital. It was as if my mind suddenly went “Oh! Ok, wait! Maybe I won’t die young!”

For someone who loves alternative medicine and home remedies as much as I do, it seems I owe an awful lot to modern medicine. Not only has it literally saved my life, but it also managed to renew my hope in life and my future.

Hope can be found in many unexpected places, I suppose.

Even hospitals.

Love, N.

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