I’m not writing this from a position of authority or experience but rather from hearsay from some reliable sources. Neither am I suggesting that the sick be left in hospitals to ail in loneliness. Every situation is different and it’s up to those close to the sick person to weigh and see. For now, hear me out.
Not every one wants to be visited in hospital when they’re admitted. It’s just that many people find it most unkind to come outright and say so. They therefore endure endless visits while deep down they wish they could be with the closest family and friends only. Some wish to be left alone to come to terms with their ailments and recuperate. Depending on the type of ailment, some patients suffer from phonophobia. In extreme cases it’s a morbid fear of voices including your own, but in milder and more common circumstances, it’s just the need for peace and quiet. As such, it’s common in, but not confined to hospitals.
I lost my workmate to breast cancer some time ago and at some point during her admission days, she made it categorically clear that she did not want any visitors outside of close family. Prior to that her room was always jammed with church groups, neighbors, chama ladies, family, friends, and workmates. She was sick. And then she was sick and tired of the endless chatter, the oh so predictable comfort messages and people gawking at the tubes and hospital contraptions running from her chest and urinary system to little bags on the side of the bed. She was tired of smiling nicely and shaking hands when infact the one thing she wanted to do was curl up and die.
She’s not the only person I know who has opted not to have visitors. When my sister gave birth to her first born, only a handful of people knew that her due date had arrived and that she had checked into hospital and given birth. That of course was for the purpose of ferrying supplies to the hospital and acting in case anything went wrong. The rest could go see mother and baby at home when they had been discharged and were in considerably good shape to welcome visitors.
Visiting a sick friend or relative is a gesture in utmost kindness. But let’s face something. There’s the lot that visits out of malicious curiosity. The ones who come to poke holes into the doctors’ prognosis – to concoct and give credence to their future speeches of ‘nilimuona. hiyo haikuwa cancer ni ukimwi. Alikuwa ameisha na nywele zimekuwa singa. (I saw her. It was not Cancer. It was Aids. She had lost weight and her hair had thinned). Duh! Of course she had lost weight and her hair had thinned!
I’d drafted this post some time back and buried it in my unpublished folder. It has now been re-inspired by this mega rant on the Muthaura visits. And speaking of Muthaura, there must be a few psychos who were visiting him in Hospital just to gauge the possibility of their kin and tribesmen succeeding him in office.
See also: Season for Bungling Doctors.