My love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital

The hospital is a funny place at Christmas. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital.

One part of me loves Christmas hospital. I love that everyone tries so hard to make it festive and that each floor or section have a different décor scheme (or lack thereof). I love that some people really rock the decorations. I get excited for the treats on the nursing units.

I love how people try so hard to make it a welcoming and festive place, even if for many people it is the last place they want to be.

But, I hate that people have to stay in hospital over the holidays. I’m glad we have the option and that these people are well taken care of. But, this weekend, I seem to have spent a good chunk of my on call rounds talking to people about their hopes to get out, their dismay about not getting out and trying to help them see or find the bright sides in the situation. It comes up a lot. And it is important, so it makes sense that it comes up.

I remember when I was about 5 (it was the year I got a Troll watch for Christmas), my Aunt was in hospital over Christmas. And she swore never to be there at that time again. I am too young to remember what was so bad about it, but I do remember her saying repeatedly she would never go to hospital before Christmas.

That is something I won’t forget.

I don’t want that for my patients. Because, unfortunately for a number of them, this probably is their last Christmas…

Our service is pretty good in that if there is any way the person is stable enough to go out even for a few hours, we try to make it work if the person and their family is wanting, willing and able.

I have one person who has the most festive room ever and plans on having their whole family in for Christmas dinner, although the logistics are still being sorted out. They are pretty excited and encouraged about being around for the holidays at all.

I saw another who only just realized home isn’t going to be an option and just wants to not be alone. Another who is going to get someone to bring in decorations. And a third who was working on Christmas cards and gift wrapping with their spouse.

Its not all that sunny, though. Some people say it won’t be Christmas this year, or get upset when talking about not being home.

I can’t make it better. But I want to. We can treat pain or nausea, but treating being in hospital over the holidays isn’t easy.

The nurses on our ward are awesome and make the best of it. We all, for the most part try to. That is what humans do over the holidays. And that makes it kind of a cool display of how people are decent.

Thus my love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital.

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6 thoughts on “My love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital

  1. I can understand the love-hate relationship you describe. My husband is a nurse and therefore works every other Christmas. One year he works Christmas Eve and is off Christmas Day and the next year it reverses. He has spoken of this also. I guess it’s both sad and lonely to be in the hospital at Christmas time. Your post reminded me of a Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman episode (still one of my favorite shows of all times) where she was flashing back to a time when she was in med school and got stuck on call for someone on Christmas evening. She made the best of it by reading Christmas stories to the patients and singing Christmas carols.

    • I LOVE Dr. Quinn! I remember that episode now that you mention it. That is kind of how I look at it.
      Our hospital does something similar with nurses and physicians too (although it doesn’t always work out with the more junior people, particularly with the physicians). It is challenging to see people because you know that they, in many cases are sad and lonely, although as one person pointed out to me, it is important to realize how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to even have healthcare and be well taken care of regardless of the season.

  2. Many years ago I has breast cancer surgery before and after Christmas but was fortunate both were out-patient. Still, the holiday wasn’t the same as the second surgery was on the 29th. Stuff like that hangs over your head and tarnishes the spirit. My crazy family decided to have New Year’s day dinner at MY house. I refused to cook so they all did. I was between the second operation and the radiation treatment which was to start in 3 days. Somehow although I was at first annoyed that they invaded my gloominess, it was a great day. I laughed so hard my stitches hurt. I can only imagine what it’s like if I had to have been hospitalized for that period. I really love that most surgeries are out-patient or very short term hospitalization. Home is the best place to recuperate.

    • That would be so tough to have surgeries sandwiching Christmas and really, just overshadowing the whole holiday season. It sounds like your family did the right thing by bringing some joy to you!

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