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damage control

The question

I was taken to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. I was in hospital three days and no one came to visit me – not even my mom, my dad or my brother. The only one who came was my husband. He was there and he was great. Everyone else just texted to ask how I was feeling, which annoyed me to say the least. Now, two weeks later: nothing. I’m still home suffering and in pain but it feels like they need an invitation or something? When my brother had lung issues and needed surgery, I visited him. I didn’t text, just asked his girlfriend where he was and got flowers and went there. What should I do?

The answer

I understand.

To me, who visits you when you’re in hospital is of massive importance.

As is who comes to your funeral, although of course one is less likely to care under those circumstances.

I’ve always assumed not many people will show up to my funeral, to the point of it being embarrassing.

But it’s not like I’ll be blushing about it (unless the funeral director applies some rouge to my cheeks). I just hope it will not be too embarrassing for my wife, who by all indications I will predecease. I just pray she keeps busy serving snacks and drinks to the few who do show up. But apart from that, I assume, unless certain supernatural beliefs hold water, and there is indeed some sort of afterlife, I will be oblivious and (finally) beyond the reach of embarrassment.

Anyway: Back to the question of hospital visits. I do not pooh-pooh your point of view on this score at all; indeed, I broke up with a someone who failed to visit me during a hospital stay.

She had been in a mental-health institution a few months earlier and while she was there I visited her every day.

But then I contracted a life-threatening injury in a library-based mishap! I fell over while reading a book in my carrel and cut my arm on the sharp corner of the bookcase. It became infected and the infection got in my bloodstream and I had to be put on IV antibiotics. They said if I took an extra day to come to the hospital, it might have been fatal. It was really scary.

But my girlfriend never came to the hospital to visit. So I broke up with her. I approach death in the library and she can’t be bothered to visit me in the hospital? That’s not a “keeper.”

On the other hand, a woman who was a friend of a friend did come to visit, and yadda yadda yadda I wound up proposing to her and she became my fiancée. True story! (I didn’t wind up marrying that woman, but that was for other reasons altogether: It became a long-distance relationship, and those can be difficult, especially if your boyfriend is a naughty fellow, which I was – but I still appreciate her visiting me in hospital.)

Point being: I think you are quite right to red-flag those individuals who failed to visit you in hospital.

I will say as a slight codicil/asterisk/footnote that three days is not a lot of time. If it were three weeks, my thoughts might be different, but during the course of a three-day period people might be busy or have trouble arranging a visit.

So, maybe find it in your heart to forgive them for not visiting you during your brief hospital stay. Especially your parents. I cut parents a lot of slack simply because they are parents: They gave you life, changed diapers etc etc.

You ask: What should I do now that I’m home? Should I send invites?

My answer: Why not? Never underestimate the extent to which people are self-involved and wrapped up in their own problems.

Invite them over. If you ask them now and they decide not to come, then you legitimately can scratch your head and ask: “What’s going on here?”

The good news in all this? Your husband. He was there for you, a.k.a. a “keeper.” So if I were you, my main advice: Hang onto him with every fibre in your being.

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