A year ago, what I thought would be a quick little ER trip at 5 am to get some xrays and meds for my husband ended up being an almost 2-week long hospital stay at two hospitals in Rochester (and an expensive ambulance ride).  The weeks up to Christmas are busy enough with three kids, all the Christmas and holiday concerts and parties. This was not on my list...and didn’t fit well on my Google calendar.  

When I gowned up to get into the room and then heard that my husband would possibly be sent to a hospital out of Minnesota, that is when life got a bit more real. 

When he went to the ER, we didn’t see it, but his fingernails were blue.  Very blue. He had pneumonia but also had fluid around several areas in his lungs that required multiple CT scans and several chest tubes...which I can tell were very painful.  He wasn’t even able to move an inch without his oxygen plummeting and so, he was also on oxygen for about a week. 

Looking back a year ago, I remember many things about these stressful moments.  It wasn’t what I planned.  But for many visiting our town, a visit like this is necessary and happens. The patient that is getting care needs to go where they can get the help they need, and Rochester is that place for so many.  

I learned a few things from this experience a year ago that might help if you know someone that is caring for a loved one (and I've got a few people to thank!): 

  • Offer a specific way to help (and then just do it).  Gift cards to a gas station are probably the best way, or a restaurant.  Hospital food isn’t the most awesome so if there is a place that is walking distance from where they are located, those are probably the best choices for food.  Help might be denied or brushed away...but do it anyway.  If you need to, stick it in the mail and be anonymous.
  • Clean.  If a person you know is away from their town and left in a hurry, see if you can figure out a way to clean their home while they are away.  The person that is sick will need a clean environment to come home to.
  • Meals.  These are fine (as long as there is a variety and not just lasagna) but if someone can coordinate these and figure out where these should go, or drop them off when the family will be home, that is helpful.  
  • New puzzle or game, even a deck of cards.  This can be a gift to many other families staying at the hospital too.  It gets boring, real fast.  Especially with kids.
  • Coffee and a visit.  It might not seem like much but this might mean the most to someone.  Just stop by and if you aren’t able to get to the hospital, at least send a card or give a phone call.  
  • Money for parking.  No offense to Mayo, but I was a bit shocked when I was leaving the ramp at 9:40 pm at night and had to pull out my credit card to also pay for parking.  Pretty sure we paid enough in CT scans to cover the entire parking bill for everyone in the ramp. Those fees accumulated though with all of the visits that happened over 2 weeks.
  • Say “Thanks” to a nurse or Doctor you know.  I saw a lot on those floors and know that many families didn’t go home with their loved ones at all that Christmas...and others were coming to say their goodbyes as I was walking out the elevator to the parking ramp.  The care and skill that happens with the staff taking care of our loved ones deserve more thanks. 

I don’t know all of the names of the many nurses and teams of Doctors that helped my husband a year ago, but hopefully, with your help, they will see this.  

“Thank you” - from a mom and wife that is thankful for the care her husband received at Olmsted Medical Center, Gold Cross, and Mayo Clinic.  

Who would you like to say "thank you" to?  I'd love to hear!  Send me a message on my Facebook page (click here) or DM me on Instagram.

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