Create a Positive Patient Experience in 3 StepsOct 25, 2023
In living with a chronic illness, lying in a hospital bed becomes an all-too-familiar scenario.
The good news is that embracing a healing mindset can significantly transform the three stages of a patient's hospital experience: preparation, during treatment or surgery, and post-treatment recovery.
Such a mindset can be your compass, guiding you through the many emotions and challenges you face.
When I first started dealing with MS, I found myself in and out of hospitals and rehab centres. No matter how many times I was admitted, I never got used to that sterile environment. The bright fluorescent lights, the constant beeping of machines, and the uneasy feeling from injections and tubes — it was overwhelming.
This setting profoundly impacted me both mentally and emotionally. I felt disconnected from the world outside those four walls. Too often, I felt defined by my disease. My world revolved around MS: the symptoms, treatments, side-effects, and rehabilitation.
Healing Mindset Promotes Emotional Wellbeing in Hospital
During those early days, while lying in a hospital bed connected to machines and receiving medication, I struggled to see how a healing mindset could be relevant.
My focus then was solely on getting better through Western medicine. I planned to explore broader concepts of health and healing only once I was "fixed."
But I want to emphasise that healing can indeed begin from a hospital bed. These vulnerable moments are precisely when our emotional wellbeing and mental health need nurturing.
For years, I didn't realise that I could still heal within the confines of a hospital. Having surgery or receiving treatment doesn't exclude the possibility of proactively safeguarding emotional wellbeing and promoting mental health.
Healing is multifaceted, spanning emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions.
While in the hospital, the primary focus was on my physical wellbeing. Steroid treatments during my MS relapses helped reduce inflammation, giving my nervous system a chance at regaining mobility. But I was too fixated on the drug's physical benefits, overlooking the emotional toll. The experience of lying immobile for weeks, losing independence, and needing assistance for basic tasks was emotionally crushing, especially in my 20s.
Coupled with that was the anxiety — the fear of not recovering, of needing such intensive care indefinitely. Within the hospital, I wasn't actively safeguarding my mental health. Too often, I felt reduced to just a patient, awaiting a cure, emotionally detached from my body.
Adopting a Healing Mindset Through the Three Stages of Hospital Stays
At times your illness gives you no choice but to seek medical intervention. However, I wish to share how you can embrace a healing mindset even in such circumstances.
During my recent mastectomy surgeries, I adopted a healing mindset ensuring my emotional wellbeing alongside physical recovery.
1. Preparation for surgery or treatment
Facing Emotions: Have you ever stopped to truly confront your emotions surrounding an impending treatment or procedure?
For me, the thought of undergoing a mastectomy was not just about the daunting physical loss; it was the profound emotional impact that loomed large. Questions bombarded me: How would I face the world with a flat chest? What would people think or say? But, by confronting these feelings, my perspective began to shift. Come the day of the surgery, I was ready and deeply proud of my choice.
It's essential to embrace every emotion, no matter how raw. Sometimes, it's easier to process them in the comfort of our home rather than the cold confines of a hospital room.
Setting Intentions: Do you believe that the journey to healing begins even before the actual procedure?
Before setting out on your treatment journey, find moments to ground yourself. Paint a mental picture of a positive experience ahead. For my part, I visualised a seamless procedure, my surgeon's satisfaction at its success, and waking up with a newfound sense of empowerment. Before you step into that hospital room, what vision will you hold onto?
2. During the Treatment or Surgery
Coping Mechanisms: How do you manage the stress that builds up while being prepared for surgery or treatment in the hospital?
The wait, especially if there are complications in accessing veins, can induce anxiety. During such tense moments, I found solace in breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, and muscle relaxation techniques. How do you find calm in the midst of medical chaos?
Inner Strength: Amidst the medical jargon and clinical discussions, how do you retain your identity beyond your illness?
It's vital to remember: you are so much more than your diagnosis. Even in the busy hospital environment, I drew strength from the recognition of my resilience and worth. The power is in how you face your illness, not just in the disease you're fighting. How do you stay anchored to your true self?
3. Hospital Stay and Recovery
Facing Post-Treatment Realities: How do you come to terms with the aftermath of a medical procedure?
Recuperating from treatments or surgeries can be emotional. The hesitancy of glancing at my fresh surgical scar. Catching a glimpse of oneself in the mirror can be startling - the paleness from nausea, the facial swelling due to fluid retention, a reflection that feels so far removed from the familiar "you." It's crucial to remember that these moments are fleeting. When I saw my post-mastectomy scar, my first words to the nurse were, “Is that it?” My imagination had conjured up something far scarier. How do you brace yourself for the immediate realities post-surgery or treatment?
Distraction & Connection: During those prolonged hospital stays, what are your preferred distractions or ways to connect?
Long hours in the hospital can sometimes seem unending, with worry as a constant companion. For me, podcasts were an escape, social media was a distraction, sit-coms and phone calls to loved ones were a comfort. Even simple chats with nurses, about topics unrelated to my health, brought a sense of normality.
Embracing a healing mindset can significantly influence all three stages of a hospital stay: preparation, the treatment or surgery itself, and post-treatment recovery.
It’s not just about the physical aspect of healing; emotional and mental well-being are equally crucial. These dimensions intertwine, and when nurtured, they can transform your experience, even within the confines of a hospital room.
In the upcoming Mindset Masterclass, we delve deeper into this concept. One of the pivotal mindset shifts we'll explore is tailored to help you navigate chronic illness crises, be it lying in a hospital bed, undergoing surgery, receiving medical treatment, or sitting in your doctor's office awaiting test results
Always remember, healing can commence from the very onset of a chronic illness crisis. Your mindset plays a central role in this journey.