“Where are you? Why aren’t you here? I need help!” My husband was calling from his hospital room where he was recovering from surgery. Usually these words would light a fire under me, and I would dash out of the house immediately. But I have found his emergencies may not always be my emergency. I had warned him the night before that I wasn’t getting up too early as I was very tired. He went on to tell me he was having conflict with the hospital staff and they weren’t feeding him the breakfast that he needed.
Not exactly rushing, I got dressed and headed for the hospital, taking a detour by McDonald’s. “Give me the biggest breakfast you have, and add a side of gravy,” I instructed. With this in hand I went to rescue my husband (from himself, most likely). Incidentally, I knew what he was allowed to eat from talking to the doctor previously, and his tests were over.
I came into his room and was met with his “evidence” that they were at fault. He had a Coke can and information about a packet of sugar lined up on his bedside table. He was riled up.
“I told them this can of Coke they gave me has 58 grams of sugar, versus this packet of sugar that has 5 grams, and they won’t let me have sugar in my coffee!” His eyes flashed. He was furious. I was right; his emergency wasn’t mine, but I went about my plan of diffusing his trauma. I gave him the big breakfast platter. He pounced on it like a hungry wolf, and announced he was eating a real breakfast anytime a nurse came by.
I must admit the hospital food was lacking. The scrambled egg they gave him must have came from a young pullet. He’s a big man and that wasn’t cutting it, especially after food service ordered him a large omelet the night, before which he didn’t get. We both tasted the soup for his lunch, and couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought it smelled and tasted like old-fashioned wallpaper paste.
He continued on to the nurses about how he weren’t going to be pushed around. “Now, I’m not like my wife who will set back and let someone push her around,” he declared proudly.
“Not so,” I responded. “I just chose my battles, and a packet of sugar isn’t one of them!” I went on to explain he wasn’t acting too rational. Could he be projecting his fear of the surgery the day before on something tangible like a packet of sugar? The emotional let down from something like that could be the real issue. I saw the glimmer of recognition in his eyes that I had revealed the problem, but he wouldn’t admit it. I don’t think he knew it himself until I brought it up. He calmed pretty quickly after that.
I’m sure the nurses are trained to see emotional reactions of being in a hospital, but I am grateful they take it in stride gracefully. It makes me resolve to look beyond someone’s outburst and see if they are really bothered by something else they can’t express. It makes compassion and forgiveness easier.