Our Health Our Responsibility
By Bernadette A. Moyer
You can be as ill as you want to be or in many circumstances, as healthy as you will yourself to be! My mother was a Masters educated nurse who always encouraged us to be healthy. Often she made statements like, “sick people are in the hospital and you are not one of them.” She worked for more than 30 years in hospitals from pediatrics to critical care units and later assisted living. The bulk of her career was in a Catholic hospital where all life was valued. She never wanted her children to be ill or require any truly unnecessary hospitalization.
I used to joke that “I wasn’t allowed to be sick!” Not in her eyes and in many ways it served me well. If you ever find me admitted to the hospital, I am ill, very, very ill. People die in hospitals and I don’t want to die and certainly not there.
And yes there are procedures and hospital stays that have turned people lives and health from bad to good, but it NEVER happens without the patient being part of the wellness practices. And YES there are hospital stays that have turned patient’s health from bad to worse. Just ask any medical malpractice attorney. A patient has to want to get healthy; they have to be willing to be a part of the process. If the patient is a child the parent has the responsibility. But there is no hospital or no doctor or no pill that will make us healthy if we don’t want to become healthy.
Since July of this year I witnessed our adult son admitted to the hospital for at least 6 different hospital stays. Most often he was escorted there by a “crisis team” after shocking public displays of odd and assorted behaviors. He is an adult and he alone is responsible for his care. I have come to believe that he likes being admitted and enjoys all the attention he receives at the hospital. It has been communicated to us that since July he has spent the better part of two months in a psych unit of a hospital.
Most people in the hospital can’t wait to get out, he loves going in. I am so sad and conflicted because I believe he does not fully appreciate what he is doing and the long and short term ramifications of his behaviors. I also believe he has all the power and that he will not become healthy until or unless he alone decides to become healthy. There is no magic pill, there is no magic doctor and there is no magic hospital that will bring us to good health if we don’t do the work necessary to be part of the process it takes to heal ourselves.
What I have witnessed is well-intentioned social workers, doctors and nurses that think they are helping him. What I have also witnessed is a slow and steady decline since they have all come together to help him. In many ways his attitude and his behaviors are far worse than they have ever been. The magic doctor, the magic pills and the magic hospital are not helping him at all. He needs to help himself and he is not doing that.
As a small child if he fell and skinned his knee and you babied him and coddled him his screams would become longer and louder and more dramatic. But if you addressed the wound and comforted him and eventually said okay now knock it off he would gently respond with “okay” it was almost like he took all his cues from how you addressed him. I learned early on how to manage him. Not a single one of his “crisis unit” like episodes ever happened inside our home.
The last day that he was admitted, he walked himself into the hospital and as he was waiting to be admitted he posted a video of himself on social media about where he was and what he was doing in the hospital. He clearly was NOT in any distress. And he also seemed to enjoy the camera being on him. If I had any lingering feelings about what to do seeing that post drove home for me that if and when he wants to get well he will and if he doesn’t want to he won’t. It is pretty clear.
Everyone is different some people are born with disabilities and illnesses that do require treatments and hospital stays. What I am referring to here is someone who has displayed an ability to be fully functioning and manage a full life. I am talking about mental health and seeing in the past what someone is capable of and knowing that if they alone decide, they will once again be capable of a fully functioning life. They may also decide not to be fully functioning. So much of the quality of our life is all about the decisions that we alone make for our lives.
Once we become an adult, our health is; our responsibility … and good health can only come about if we want it.
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