By Kaye Swain
"Oh, Kaye, my back hurts. This pillow is too high," my senior mom said plaintively. She was referring to the hospital pillow she was using while recuperating from her operation. Since I was staying with her during the first few days she would be in the hospital, including overnight, I had brought one of my soft and squooshy pillows to use on the recliner they gave me.
"Here, mom, try this one," I replied, handing her my pillow. I gently lifted her head, swapped out the pillows, and carefully laid her back down.
"Oh, honey," she said, with such a sweet smile on her face. "That feels so much better!"
That taught both of us a new and important "life lesson." When packing a bag for a trip to the hospital, tuck in a comfy pillow or two. It feels better and makes you feel a little less disoriented. I like to put our name and phone number on them, just in case.
And, of course, I always ask permission to use them. We've never been told no, but we haven't ever been in an ICU or other specialized unit, which might have stricter rules.
When you are caring for elderly parents who have to deal with all the difficult issues of surgery and hospitalization, anything you can do to make them more comfortable - physically or emotionally - can be a big help in the healing process. This is especially important in view of some recent news reports that some patients who undergo a major operation, like hip replacement surgery, can have a higher mortality rate during the first year after the surgery.
It seems like such a silly little thing, but my senior mom was thrilled with that comfy pillow along with a second one I brought up for her the next day! She slept better, felt better, and that put a big smile on BOTH our faces.
Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.