What We (Lovingly) Want You to Know
I have been bed ridden for almost two weeks now.
I was fortunate enough to make my last keynote and immediately after the flight touched back down in San Diego, was rushed to the ER where I was diagnosed with 3 types of respiratory viruses and told my kidneys are struggling.
And I've received hundreds, maybe thousands of well wishes.
I've never really written a letter like this, partially out of fear of being misunderstood, partially out of fear that I may be the only one thinking these thoughts. Nonetheless, I feel like the best thing we can do for those who spend a lot of time in the hospital, is to understand how to be there for them in a genuine, authentic way.
I'm beyond blessed that I have amazing friendships and so this letter is for all of those amazing people in my life, who give me the strength to keep living. It's also designed as a tool to help those who want to be there for me but don't seem to quite know "how."
I get it, hospital friendship can be scary. It can also be the most enriching friendship you'll ever experience. There's far more good here than there is bad and I'm constantly reminded of how beautiful humanity is with every IV drip.
True friendship is strengthened in the hospital. Here's a few examples of how to help us while we are hospitalized.
We can tell when someone visits us but doesn't really want to be there. We don't expect visitors, but if you do show up, act like you are happy to be around us as best as you can. Have a conversation with us about anything outside these walls. Don't just show up and grab the remote, flicking aimlessly. We can watch tv on our own. We're happy you put in the effort to drive here, pay for parking, and spend quality time with us- let's make it quality!
We don't expect you to help take care of us when you visit. However, if we haven't had the strength to brush our hair all day or want to change our clothes and you offer, we are going to be incredibly grateful.
We don't expect flowers. But if you truly want to bring them, a vase is always a kind gesture as it shows it was thought out and not a last minute impulse because you didn't know what else to do. We're more than happy giving the flowers to the hard-working nurses to take home - who can feed them and treasure them instead of let them die on the shelf without care.
We don't expect daily text/IM/Email messages. If you want to reach out, please do so as if we weren't sick and strike up a conversation about something we would talk about ordinarily. Talk about anything but health. We will chat about our health if we want to, we just want to feel normal and a "health update" isn't normal.
Go out and enjoy your life! We don't expect you to put your life on hold. We know that you are going to have great experiences without us, hiding it and later putting it on social media makes us feel more lonely- not less. Then please, call us and tell us all about it! Please don't say it will be an "early night" or that "you aren't sure you want to go out." because you're afraid we will have fomo. We will have fomo. But our FOMO will be much worse if we feel you hide things from us. Bonus tip: if you send us a photo of you out with our friends, it's treasured. We love knowing you are having a great time and thought of us. It makes us excited for the future memories we can share together!
We don't expect you to bring us food or drinks. If you do want to bring something, please ask what we're craving. Sometimes we may only want mac and cheese and as thoughtful as anything else is- we probably don't want to feel guilted into eating something we may throw up.
We love you. And we love our friendship.
You're the reason we fight to stay alive when times seem dark. Please take this as a written hug, where we step out on a ledge and share what we want and need so you don't need to "guess" any more.
Hugs and love from the hospital,