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Initially diagnosed June 4, 2009 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Stage II,Grade II tumor size: 2-3 cm node positive ER/PR postive HER2 Neu - negative Current Diagnosis: Metastatic Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 3 Mets: Scalp/skin, Liver, Spine, Bone ER/PR + HER2/NEU -

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tips for Visiting Someone Who is Sick

I thought this was a really good blog topic. I saw it on Kairol Rosenthal's blog "Everything Changes". Here is her blog article:

In the midst of radiation treatment my home was like grand central station with visitors coming and going all day long. I needed the help and the company, and was grateful to have people stopping by.

But for some patients, having visitors isn’t as easy or welcomed. Many folks don’t want anyone around when they look and feel like crap. Others want privacy and alone time. And lots of guests just don’t know how to behave in the best interest of the sickie. So, I’ve come up with a list of tips for both patients and visitors:

For Patients

- Nobody is a mind reader. Email friends and family about your wishes.
- Think about who you are willing to have see you at your worst.
- Let people know if it is not okay to visit at the hospital or at home.
- Clearly broadcast your energy level and the length of visit you’d like.
- Demand people stay away if they have germs.
- If you’ve got a roommate or partner get clear with each other so if you have different desires you don’t send mixed messages to guests.

For Visitors

- Have awareness. The goal is to be helpful, even it means staying away.
- While visiting, ask what you can do to help out around the house.
- Sometimes help without asking. If the trash is full just take it out.
- Never stop by unannounced.
- Don’t overstay your welcome.
- Silence can be comforting. Offer to sit together without talking.
- Think about visiting with the sick person’s kids, partner, or caregiver allowing the sick person time to just rest

I know I didn't want a lot of non-family visitors while I was going through chemo or recovering from surgery, but if anyone had come over, I think these are good guidelines. It wasn't that I didn't WANT anyone over particularly, it was more that I was embarassed of how *I* looked (bald and laying around in my pajamas with no makeup on) and ESPECIALLY how my house looked. I'm the main one who cleans, and when I'm too sick to clean, my house gets absolutely filthy! I could barely stand being here some days myself. I tended to just stay in the bedroom where I didn't have to see it! Otherwise, it drove me absolutely batty!

One thing that could be added to the list, is to bring food. You might check with them (or their caregiver) to see what things they can eat at the time , though. Also, be sure to bring it in disposable dishes. This is a thoughtful gesture that will save the sick person from feeling obligated to wash and return them.

In addition to that, you could offer to take their children somewhere occasionally(If they have young children). I know while I was sick, I felt guilty that we were unable to take Katie to the park very often. I was usually to sick to go, and Jesse didn't want to leave me home alone. Our neighbor offered to do this when they walked their dog quite often. Christine often would take Katie and her cousin somewhere for the day, and I really appreciated it! Along the same line, offer to take their kids to school/activities if you are a parent and have kids at the same school/activity. I had a neighbor who often would offer to drive her to school for me and a couple at church who would take Katie to her JBQ meets.

Whatever you do, don't avoid people you care about while they are sick. Being stuck at home sick is lonely and boring. While I was sick, I received very few visitors and phone calls. I asked some of them why I hadn't heard from them and they said it was because they were worried they'd bother me/wake me up, etc. I tried to reassure them it was fine, but didn't have much luck. Due to this, I spent a lot of long lonely days, unable to sleep, wishing I had the distraction of a phone call or visitor. When I wanted to sleep, I simply turned off the phone or gave it to my husband to deal with. To those of you who did call, write, email or stop by... thank you so much. You made my day when you did!


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