Dear Friend, We’re living in a time of great change and crisis. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and free from the Covid-19 virus. If you or a loved one is infected, keep in mind that doctors and nurses are doing their best, and researchers around the world are racing to find […]
Accompanying family to a clinic has many benefits. Having someone familiar and used to your behaviour and moods creates a safe space to release emotions. Usually there’s some amount of anxiety when going to a clinic or hospital. Family can support you emotionally during the trip, especially if you have a long wait time or a physically demanding treatment. A family member can also keep track of important health information. Even with good news, too much information can be tough to remember. Plus, the time spent going to and being in the clinic provides good family bonding time.
When my mother was undergoing chemotherapy, my brother and I used to go with her to the cancer clinic. Mom’s diagnosis had been breast cancer. She had needed a radical mastectomy, and then, chemotherapy. Recovering from such a traumatic surgery, with blows to self-esteem and her marriage, was a tough time for Mom. Going with Mom to the clinic visits gave us time to reconnect, encourage each other, and hope for positive outcomes.
Why family is best
Most clinics don’t let a friend go in with the patient to visit the doctor. But a family member going in with a patient is different. A family member can provide safe mental and emotional support space. A family member can also help the doctor by providing important information about the patient’s recent behaviour and mood that a friend may not know or see. When medical news isn’t good, its hard to remember everything the doctor is telling you. Things get blocked out. Family can remember important medical information or help set up future appointments.
Things aren’t as scary when you’re not alone at a medical appointment. There’s lots of strangers, hallway mazes, and nasty odours at a clinic. Then there’s the internal fear. Going with her kids gave my Mom a release valve for her anxieties. After all, she knew us and we knew her. Cancer didn’t change the person Mom was. So we’d talk about her fears and ours. We’d try to be non-judgemental, and shared only what we knew Mom could emotionally handle. But it was good being at the clinic with her. We knew we made a difference in her day whenever we went with her.
Having family with you during clinic visits can make a stressful visit more enjoyable. My brother would joke and tell stories that made Mom laugh. I used to buy ice cream or a cup of coffee after clinic appointments. We’d get her cookies or something to drink while she was having chemotherapy. Little things like these made the day feel better for Mom.
There are many benefits to accompanying family to a clinic. If you can’t make it, have another family member take your place. Or, have rotational shifts where you go one time and another family member goes the other time. Get the younger generation involved. Grandkids with some spare time can help. Even in-laws may want to chip in. The idea is to make the person who needs to go to the clinic feel good about going and being there.
Visit me on Twitter @tereziafarkas