When I was in hospital, I received a couple of visitors that puzzled me. They weren't friends of mine. Some were casual members of the congregation, who only came to church once in a while. So why did they come to see me? Many of them came the first night following my surgery which made it even more strange.
My husband came with our younger son who still lived at home. My other son came through from the nearby town where he lived, bringing his girlfriend. My brother came across from the other side of the Witwatersrand to where we lived, bringing my eighty-year-old mother. All those were to be expected. They comprised my immediate family. Interestingly, they are the only ones I remember from that night. Yet the visitors stood three deep around the bed, talking to one another. I'm sure among those were some of the friends who would stand by me throughout the year to follow. But I also know there were a number whom we couldn't understand their presence, and they never came again.
I presume they came just to satisfy their curiosity. I don't know what they expected, but I sat propped up on pillows with my arm in a sling, making joking remarks for all of the first few minutes. After that I passed out from the drugs and left them to talk to one another. I only awoke once they'd all gone home.
Seriously, why? Why would someone who had never been in my home, want to visit me a few hours after I had surgery for cancer?
- Think before you visit. Choose your time. And don't visit the first couple of nights after surgery—unless you are a close relative or very dear friend; or of course if you know no one else will be going.
- Make sure about visiting hours and don't expect nursing staff to let you in at all times. It's not fair on them, and it's not fair on the patients. I had to eventually speak to the charge sister of my ward and ask her not to allow visitors in at all times, as I never got the chance to rest.
- Don't take flowers the first few days. First make sure there aren't too many there already. I had so many, I had to send them home. Such a pity, and it made me feel guilty. Having said that, my "garden" of flowers at home was amazing.