I have a friend right now who is at her son’s bedside in the hospital, an unplanned vacation from the real world which happens so frequently in the life of a cancer mom (or cancer dad of course). It made me think about all the long hours, days and nights we spent in the hospital with Elliot, waiting, pacing up and down the halls, sitting by the bed, waiting, going down to the coffee shop to get coffee to bring back up, waiting, chatting with other parents or nurses, waiting, trying to get our child to cooperate with the nurse or doctor, eating cold meals or warmish sandwiches, waiting, holding our child down while the nurse or doctor does whatever it is they need to do, waiting, texting friends or anyone who might possibly be awake at 3am, and of course, waiting.
And so, I have come up with a creative list of fun things to do while waiting in the hospital. As I’m sure many of my other cancer mom friends (and cancer dads!!) will have suggestions, please feel free to comment at the end.
- Wait. (Just in case you hadn’t thought of that)
- Read the same paragraph in your book over and over since you will be interrupted by your child, the nurse, a clown, the doctor or some other important person roughly every 6 minutes.
- Polish your finger and toe nails. Since you will not have any nailpolish, use a q tip and some of the yellow iodine tincture. It will look unique and clever.
- Make beautiful water fountain statue out of syringes, I.V. tubes, and bedpans.
- Take a plastic cup and write “Urine Sample” on it. Then pour some apple juice in it and secretly place it on the nurses’ desk. Hours of entertainment while you watch them try to figure it out.
- Place a bunch of pillows on a wheel chair in the shape of a person, then cover with a blanket. Leave a little note pinned to the blanket saying “do not wake!” Then put the wheelchair in the elevator. Bet with the other moms and dads how long it will take till someone does something.
- Steal as many toothpicks from the cafeteria as possible and build a smaller scale version of the Eiffel Tower. Place it in the hospital lobby and watch as people admire your artwork.
- Start rumours about the hospital personnel. Make them as unlikely as possible, and tell only one person. Then see how many hours it takes till you hear the rumour again from someone else, and how much the rumour has changed from your original version.
- Pretend you are an interior designer with unlimited budget, and plan what changes you would make to the department you’re in.
- Write a letter to your health minister outlining the improvements you feel are necessary in the lives of hospital patients and families. Since you will probably not have thought to bring paper and pens, use toilet paper to write on and a syringe filled tomato soup as your pen.
- When the head doctor comes in with some students, quickly give your child a metal bedpan and some spoons. Secretly tell your kid the doctors enjoy drum concerts while they talk.
- If your child is going to receive dexamethasone or other steroids, just before the treatment make sure to watch the movie “The Exorcist” especially the scene where the girl’s head spins around. You will be better prepared although you may look back on the movie with thoughts that the girl was in fact quite cute and innocent looking in that scene, compared to your own kid now…
- If there is a suggestion box in the hospital cafeteria, write “cocktail hour” on several notes to fill it.
- If you have been awake for more than 36 hours and your child is so bored he is driving you crazy, it is official hospital policy that you can push the nurses’ call-button as many times as you want, even if you can’t remember what you needed by the time she gets there.
- Since your child is not in school you need to supplement his education. One science project is to use several sugar packets from the cafeteria and mix them with whatever liquids are on the meal tray until they form a paste. Then, your child can wash the windows using that, and see which combinations clean best. It’s all in the interest of education so it’s ok.
- Fill several hospital gloves with water and start a water balloon fight with the other kids. The nurses LOVE this.
- If the doctor or nurse comes while your child is in the bathroom, look all surprised and say “Oh I thought he was with YOU!”
- Make a list of all the things you will do when this phase of your life is over. It doesn’t matter how crazy or unlikely they are, just write them down. There is a life after this, and you have the right to dream big.