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5 Lessons From Having An Ill Family Member

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5 Lessons From Having An Ill Family Member

Illness is a part of life. People are born, grow up, strive to be healthy, but there is always a chance that illness will strike at any given moment. Regardless of what condition it is–cancer, mental illness, hepatitis, and so forth–illnesses do not discriminate and do not care about interrupting your obligations. But living and coping with a chronically ill family member can definitely make you a stronger person, and that’s why we’ve compiled this list.

1. When your family member falls ill, you learn who your real friends are.

We all have friends that are there for very specific purposes: there’s the guy you play video games with, the girl you shop with, the friend who you work out with and know from softball, and so forth. But when your family member’s illness acts up, those people tend of fall by the wayside. While it’s not intentional, the people who you’ve trusted and depended on in past hard times will stand up and make themselves known. Pay attention to who is around when your family member is down and out.

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2. There’s a reason why doctors are said to “practice” medicine.

I’m not saying in any way that doctors are not valuable. I just want to be clear that not all doctors are equal and not all of them should be listened to as if they are gods. Doctors are people just like you and me–albeit highly-educated people–and that should be taken into account. When your family member’s illness acts up, you should keep in mind that their treatment team are merely “practicing” medicine. They aren’t “winning” at medicine or anything else. Just practicing.

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3. Nurses are the life blood of every hospital.

On television shows, doctors get all the fame. House, Doogie Houser, Grey’s Anatomy–all these shows glorify doctors above all else. But, by becoming familiar with how various hospitals work, I’ve noticed that the nursing staff is the most vital part of making sure your loved one’s illness goes away. From delivering medication to making sure they’re comfortable to communicating patient needs, the nurses are the hands doing the work in the hospital. They are willing to stand for twelve hour shifts for days on end just to ensure your family member gets better. Pay them the respect they deserve.

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4. You learn who your loved one really is.

When faced with a chronic or life-threatening illness, your family member can react in one of a million different ways. Sadness, anger, paranoia, joy, frustration–these emotions are all to be expected. In fact, your family member has every right to act up in the fact of their illness. But pay attention to what becomes their baseline emotional state, because you hardly get to see someone’s personality when they are backed up against the wall. The person your loved one is when they are in the hospital is the person they really are. In a way, it’s a treat that you get to see that person. Many people never have the opportunity.

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5. You learn patience.

There’s no other way to say this: hospitals take forever to do anything. Doctors have to be consulted, labs have to be examined, specialists have to be called, residents have to be instructed, pharmacists have to be stocked, and so forth. Before my family member became chronically ill, I’d bet I was the most impatient person around. But in asking for and waiting for care to be delivered on “hospital time,” I’ve learned a fair amount of patience. Now, don’t get me wrong, when it takes five hours to give my father a Tums just because it’s New Year’s Eve, I will come very close to a shouting fit. But I won’t go there. Because everything will be solved eventually, even if it is on hospital time.

Featured photo credit: OF-Nascimento-Isabelle-380/Felipe Manfroi via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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