Friday, July 3, 2009

Quiet Please

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.



15 Comments:

Tamaku said...

Unfortunately some people use hospital visits to score points....

Mama said...

Not to be mean but seriously I wouldn't want people I don't know to see me at my worst!

I thought I was the only weird one so thank you so much for this post.

When my friend got a baby in May, she called me from the theatre to go see her far away from my present location. I waited for her to get out of hospital and when I reached there (1 week later) I found her still in so much pain and she was forced to endure visitors and neighbours and their endless chatter all day long cooing at the baby and what not.

Her stitches hadn't healed yet so entertaining and laughing all day long was really not good for her. She needed a lot of rest but she wasn't getting it. The baby doesn't sleep at night so she has to stay awake all day long and all night long as well! Though in her case, she looked like she enjoyed visitors, I hadn't seen her in years yet she called me from the hospital!!

I promised myself, that if ever I find myself in such a situation, I will tell people a month after the baby is born. Only my mother, my sisters and my tightest friends (presently 3) and my tightest (3) female cousins will come to visit.

After I have ponaad and have zoead the baby then everyone can come bearing their gifts.

Mountainous said...

That observation is so true, I know people think you are somewhat obligated to visit a sick person but having been in a hospital it doesn't help much when you don't get enough time to rest especially if the hospital is lax with visiting hours.

NiKolaS said...

i would prefer no one see me unless absolutely necessary when convalescing. so visitors are definitely out for me.

BP 1 said...

It is a sad issue.Aiii, shiko, you mean I might be taking all the trouble visiting a patient and he/she doesn't want my visits!!!That one never crossed my mind before.

Shiko-Msa said...

Haiya Mama, NiKolaS, Mountainous. Kumbe am in such goooooood and many company! To be honest I've so far been blessed with good health and never been admitted. But the way I enjoy my quiet times even in health I imagine I would want more of it in sickness.

Mama kwanza there was this lady who had just had a CS and the doctor had ordered her to walk around the hospital wards for circulation and there she was obviously struggling to walk. With an audience!

Tamaku like some politicians I know. I think.

Shiko-Msa said...

BP kwanza let me laugh at you. You might be sitting there all pretty and nice and the patient is wondering when you'll ever leave. I know it's a serious article but my poor ribs!

Anyway hospital visits are a kindly gesture. Don't fail to visit your friends and relatives Lol. If you do it wasn't me!

BTW I've even remembered another case. When doctors used to use Traction for slip discs (they stopped right?, an acquittance was admitted and his legs tied with those weights and I think his upper body too was pulled up or something. He also said no visitors and it was perfectly understandable.

graceful glider said...

it is so true that most are just curios to see you so they can get a story to talk about and they also take that chance to pretend how close you are to them nkt!!!. and that sucks if i can't show you that when you are in good health then i have no business pretending when you are in hosi.

Mama Shujaa said...

I agree there is a lot of curiosity involved, more so than compassion.

I see the same phenomenon on display all the time on the highways as well. Car onlookers to car accidents...I mean some genuinely care about the wellbeing of the occupants, but others are just curious, want/need something to talk about...

Digzer said...

Well hold on a bit. When I drag myself out of my comfortable surroundings and labour (pardon the pun) to Nairobi Hospital to go see so-and-so, the single most motivating thought in my head is "what if no one else goes?" I've blessedly never been admitted in hosi but I think I'd hate all my friends if visiting hour rolled over and not a soul came to see me while my hospital-mates had so many guests they need to be told to leave by the nurses ...

Farmgal said...

Totally agree with you!

Shiko-Msa said...

Graceful Glider karibu. Nice poetry you have on your side.

Mama Shujaa, Gracefulglider people are always looking for stuff to talk about. They want to be able to say true-story-I-was-there.

Digzer long time. I hear you. By the way it's ok and good to visit as long as the patient does not mind.

Farmgal karibu sana.

neema divine said...

i totally agree with you on those who visit people for malicious purposes. very nasty people in this world

Leet said...

When I was hospitalized months ago, I felt lonely and I loved when family & friends visited me, though they need to call me first to ask when the right time to visit. But I could understand when some avoid it due some reasons such rest and personal matters... and nasty for those who just like spread bad news to others...

Shiko-Msa said...

Hey Neema. And they're many!

Leet I think that's a very good idea. To communicate with the patient first and find out what time is best. Sometimes I see people so full in the wards they have to be cleared first before the doctor or nurse can do their thing and then soon as he/she leaves they file back.