In May of this year I had the opportunity to assist in the visitor training session held at Stillwater Medical Center. The purpose of the session that I facilitated was to remind the attendees of possible clinical aspects of the patients illness, hospitalization, and discharge that would be helpful to them in planning a visit to the new ostomate. This session prompted me to reflect on some issues which I feel are very important and often go "unspoken." It is often the less complicated aspects of caring for people and providing assistance in times of need that should be reinforced more often vs. "making things too hard" (I am a pro at making things too hard!)
As E.T. nurse at a major metropolitan hospital for 6 years I was a firm believer in the visitation program sponsored by the local UOA. As a nurse....there are many tactile things you can plan, teach and make available to your patients and their families preoperatively and post-operatively. Many factors affect their perception and capability to absorb the things you feel important as a practitioner who does not have an ostomy. I leaned heavily on the "real experience" effectiveness of those who so kindly volunteer their time in this way. There would be times when either because of obvious illness, depression, or emotional fatigue I felt there was a roadblock in the patient's progress. There was a certain sense of relief that I experienced when I knew that they would be able to participate in a visit. It didn't even concern me if I found out later that the visit was only five minutes or that the patient didn't ask any questions. It was only a short period of time before I realized that these visits were very crucial "seeds planted" that sprouted and became very viable flowers of comfort, growth and healing. You see, our patients see the visitor as a walking testimony of hope as they begin their journey in living with an ostomy....whether it be temporary or for a lifetime.
So, don't focus on the necessity of a checklist of things you feel must be included in a successful visit....instead, relax and be willing and open to the opportunity that awaits you....you the living "link" to holistic recovery. As I close, I want to take this opportunity to thank all volunteers of local UOA groups....your labors often go unnoticed and without "thanks" especially from those of us in patient care settings.