For many people, there eventually comes a time when someone that you care about is in the hospital. If that individual is your system’s parent, child, or spouse, there’s a pretty big chance that your system will need to take care of them while they are in the hospital. But what do you do if you have Dissociative Identity Disorder? And what do you do if your system has medical trauma? We’ve been in that same position and we’re here to tell you, it can be done! Below are the things we wish we had known before we took on the role of care taking in the hospital. Let’s jump right in!
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER
Because of the nature of D.I.D., it’s possible that something in this article could be triggering to your system. Please use caution and your best judgement when reading this article. Safety first!
Disclaimer: We are not doctors, therapists, or mental health professionals. We’re just a bunch of alters that are speaking from personal experience to help other systems live their best lives.
Don’t Forget To Take Care Of You, Too
When a loved one is in the hospital, it’s totally understandable to have the urge to focus all of your available energy on helping them recover. If they’re going to be in the hospital for more than a day or two, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, too!
Ask your system if there is a comfort item or two that would help most of the system to feel better and more secure in the hospital. While your system might not be able to have all of these, here are a few to consider:
It’s OK To Take A Break For Yourself
Taking care of a loved one can quickly take a toll on your system and it’s totally OK (and even necessary!) to have a breather. At least once a day, we suggest that your system step out to have a few minutes for yourself.
Many hospitals have “family rooms” where you can take a moment for yourself, grab a snack from a vending machine, and sometimes have computer access. If that’s not available to you, check to see if your hospital has an outside balcony where you can relax for a bit. Sometimes, even just taking the long way can give your legs a nice stretch.
No matter what you’re able to do in order to rejuvenate, remember that you matter too. If someone in your system starts to feel a bit guilty for taking a break for yourself, try to remind your system that you can not pour from an empty cup. It’s important to take care of yourself so that your body and system can be able to take care of your loved one. Taking care of you is also taking care of them so don’t skip a break if you don’t have to.
You’re Allowed To Leave
Similar to our previous point, you can’t take care of anyone else if you’re not able to take care of yourself. If at any point during the hospital stay your system decides that it’s not safe or wise to stay there, the best choice is to leave. You don’t need anyone’s permission to take care of yourself.
If you need to leave to recharge or even just for your own safety, you can do that. It may not be a popular opinion but YOU are responsible for your body. It’s your choice.
If your system is able to, call some friends or family to come take over for you for however long you think you’ll be gone. This will help to smooth things over. If you need to stay away, that’s also allowed.
Depending on your unique situation, removing yourself from the situation may be frowned upon but your system is just as important as your loved one. Your safety, health, and mental stability are your top priority even while your loved one is recovering. You can’t help them if your system starts to unravel.
Basic Physical Care Can Get Tricky
Taking care of simple things can become harder in the hospital. Below are our suggestions for improving your meals, showering, and sleep while you are helping in the hospital.
Because meal deliveries can be erratic, eating times can fluctuate a great deal. To combat erratic meal times, ordering your meals in advance will place your room further ahead on the kitchen’s line. This can help to have your meal delivered closer to a typical meal time. Keeping a bag of protein bars in the room will also prevent your system from getting overly hungry.
Doctors have a large window of when they may be making their rounds and procedures can happen at unusual times. Because you don’t want to miss any important medical information, this makes knowing when to shower difficult. For showering, ask your nurse what time shift change takes place. Many nurses and floor doctors work a 12 hour shift and they switch around 7 am and 7 pm. Whenever your medical staff are switching places, that is the ideal time to hop in the shower since that is the least likely time for a doctor or nurse to show up in the room.
The hospital can be very noisy and many patients need to have their vitals taken every few hours. This can make consistent sleep hard to achieve. To help with sleeping in the hospital, we highly recommend using some kind of white noise or sleep music on your phone. If you can find a sleep cast that has light bells and beeps in it, that will help the machine beeps from other rooms to be less noticeable.
A sleep mask can minimize how much you wake up to the lights during vital checks. Because your sleep will likely be very interrupted in the hospital, you may find it helpful for you and the patient to go to sleep much earlier than normal to make up for things.
Triggers Are More Common So Brace Yourself!
Even if your system doesn’t have medical trauma, triggers abound in hospitals. And we don’t mean that in an “anything can be a trigger” way; there are just a lot of common triggers in hospitals. The fact that most patients and loved ones are in a vulnerable, scared, and highly anxious state of mind increases the likelihood of things being an issue. Your system may not even be aware of some of these triggers until you experience them again. Our systems identified four major trigger categories and we’ll outline them here for you:
Be aware that someone may enter the room at any time; even at night. This can be very unnerving even for individuals without trauma. Before going to sleep, make sure that every alter that needs to be in the safety rooms is set up there for the night.
Depending on what your loved one is healing from, your system may see your loved one in a lot of pain. This can be triggering even for alters without medical trauma. Ask your system if anyone needs to be shielded from that and make sure that those alters get to safety asap.
Medical Staff Talk
Talking about your loved one’s injury or illness can quickly bring up your system’s own trauma. And if your system is squeamish or an empath, that can increase the uneasiness of those conversations.
In addition to medical conversations, we found some hospital staff’s way of speaking to be a bit… creepy. If anyone in your system has ever been groomed, you’ll know what we’re talking about. We don’t think the hospital staff is doing this on purpose but it did remind us of that. Kind of a pushy “just do what I say and you won’t get hurt” vibe.
Because medical staff can show up at any time to talk about your loved one’s condition, we found that it was best that if any alters with issues regarding these things stayed in their safe rooms. If your system is really great at switching on command and throwing up shields, your system could get by with just a daily team meeting reminding everyone of who would be best to front during those conversations with the staff.
Your body may experience reenactment sensations. For example, you may start to feel an IV in your arm when you see the IV machine. If this happens, take a few deep breaths and announce inside of the headspace that your body is safe in this moment. At your next opportunity, speak directly to your subconscious mind and make sure that they know that *your body* isn’t undergoing medical care. This will help to lessen the sensations.
Update Your System
At least once a day, take a few seconds to update your system with what is going on. This quick and easy conversation will drastically cut down on issues inside of the headspace while you help your loved one recover. Something like the following can really help:
Good morning system! I just wanted to let everyone know that we’re still in the hospital taking care of PERSON. Today, their care team is expecting these things to happen… The things that our body will need to do today are most likely… Anyone that does not want to front today or risk being triggered out, please make sure to put on your shields and to stay inside of the safe rooms inside of the house. If anyone is having big feelings, please reach out to your headmates to get some support. Does anyone have any concerns? We can do this!
Now that your system knows what can help while care taking in the hospital, where can your system go from here? If your system doesn’t yet know how to have internal meetings and would like to have a home inside of the headspace, check our our course Home At Last.