Saturday, January 10, 2009

Antisocial Hour

On Thursday, I made use of my 2 hours per week of wheelchair privileges to get rolled down to the weekly social hour/class for the women in my unit. I was excited to leave my room, and looked forward to meeting some women who could directly relate to the hospital bedrest experience.

So I roll in to the lounge, and see about 12 other women already sitting there in silence. I smile and pop out with a general, "Hi!"

No response. Very little eye contact. I try again.

"How's everybody doing?"

Crickets. I feel like a washed-up comic at a shabby Catskills resort. ("Is this thing on?")

I look around and decide, against my better judgment, to try one more time to get people talking. "So how long has everybody been here?"

This question produced a seriously uncomfortable silence. There seemed to be some very negative energy coming from the opposite side of the lounge -- from one woman in particular. I think she was poisoning the whole room's atmosphere. So I directly addressed one woman sitting next to me. "How about you?" She actually answered, and was fairly nice about it. It seemed like many of the women just weren't talking because nobody else was talking. I turned to the woman on the other side of me and asked the same question. She also answered. She'd been here 9 weeks and was going for another 9 with twins. Someone who'd already been here longer -- and would be here longer -- than me!

I was probably hyped up due to the excitement of leaving my room, so I tried the general discussion one more time. "Anybody been here longer than 9 weeks?"

No answer. I wouldn't be surprised if there were four or so women who had been here longer but refused to answer.

Finally daunted, I chatted quietly with my neighbors. (Meanwhile, NOBODY else talked among themselves.) Eventually, the class (on C-sections) ensued. Good information, but no socialization. I could have watched a video alone and gotten the same info. At the end of the class, a basket of giant brownies was passed around. I was one of only two women who weren't allowed to have one (brownies are incompatible with gestational diabetes). That sucked. I have to say, I wasn't sad to roll back to my room.

I'll try again next time. Maybe if I get there earlier and greet each person as they roll in... or maybe I should just go for the stony silence like the rest of them.

Eh, screw 'em. I'm going to talk anyway. Eventually someone will crack.


m said...

God, that sucks! I am so sorry you were met with stony silence (at least there weren't tomatoes, right?)

Do you think it was a "woe is me" kind of bad vibe? More like a "we're in the hospital so we should be somber" silence? Not sure how to act around other people quiet? Pretending I'm not really here?

I had a very, very interesting convo with my mom this morning - about grieving and coping (among other things). She tried to explain that she was raised "the old fashioned way" which apparently means that when something goes wrong, or isn't going as it should, you just go be with someone. In silence. It's understood that whatever they need you will do so there's no need for talking. In fact, talking is frowned upon.


I am all about the concept of abiding, which is what I think she was trying to say. That is VERY different than just sitting there martyr-like immersing oneself in your own sorrow while not recognizing other humans in the room.

Could any of the ladies be practicing the same kind of silence my mom was?

Man, good on ya for trying to make the most of your stay and your limited wheelchair privileges. I wish there were funner things you could wheel on out to.

May said...

That sounds freaky. The hospital I was at had 1 hour of "support group meeting" a week (which rapidly morphed into the chatting/gossip about our docs/social hour) and 1 hour a week of "meditation" which started out that way ("visualize your cervix... long and closed...") and then morphed into chat/gossip/social as above.

I hope yours does the same after maybe some patient turnover? Also, if anyone seems friendly, exchange room numbers and then you can chat on the phones in your rooms. This saved me. I'm still in touch with one woman I met this way, 3.5 years and a cross-country move later.

Good luck!

nutmeg96 said...

M, it was kind of like a first day of high school silence. Where nobody wants to raise their hand and draw attention to themselves. But we're all adults here! Sheesh!

May, great idea about talking on the phone with other ladies. I'll explore that possibility next time if there's more chatter and I'll see how it goes. What do I care if they think I'm some extroverted freak? :)

dcpeg said...

Good try,WOMAN! Sounds as if someone at the hospital isn't doing the job.

See if there's an ombudsman/woman and have a chat. Absolutely no one needs to be subjected to that kinda sh_t! There should have been a host/ess to greet women as they arrived and to break the ice for everyone.

Tulips said...

I would have approached it just the gathering the same way you did, Megan, and I would have definitely talked with you!!

I just don't get those women. Good for you for trying to get the conversation rolling!!

sara said...

Totally right..just keep at 'em until they break, LOL! I would be a talking machine if it were me. I always felt bad for the nursing assistant or my nurse if they seemed nice I would hold them captive when they entered my room. Sorry about the brownie....that is just cruel and unusual punishment. Damn terbutaline making your sugars high I'm sure :-)

You are really moving right along! I'm sure it doesn't seem like it is to you, but you're doing great. I am truly so proud to be able to share along this with you. I can't wait to see pictures of your little one when they arrive! ((hugs))

rebecca said...

Are they worried that if they get too animated or engaged that it would be stressful and they would go into labor on the spot? I'm not being snarky, just imagining what their fears might be -- other than social anxiety disorder.

I think you're onto something in figuring out you might need to be the welcome wagon. If all else fails, reach for those shower games. Pass around a roll of toilet paper, have them take how much they would "use" and have each person say one thing about themselves for every square of paper in their wad.

Andrew. said...

Next time try it with a British accent.

caramama said...

That does not sound like a very social hour, and that sucks. I'm the same way as you (as I'm sure you've figured out), and I'd just keeping talking to them until they break!!!

Too bad you all can't have liquor, because that always seems to help break the ice.

Annie said...

Oh my, how horrible is that! I would have thought the ladies would have been more chatty. Total bummer.

I am always available via text to chat:)

You are a bedrest rockstar by the way!

Candi B. said...

i feel your pain. my t-shaped uterus landed me on hospital bedrest before giving birth to my son 7 weeks early. people seriously do not get how bad it messes with you to be couped up in the hospital like that. i am praying for you :)

Mary said...


You would think that everyone would be excited to talk to each other about what they are going through. I never would have expected that at all. Very weird, I must say. Don't people normally gravitate towards others that are going through similar experiences? Ick. Sorry, hon.

Bridget S. said...

That's really sad (the vibe). But good luck in trying to crack them.

I think this situation calls for a therapy dog - totally compatible with gestational diabetes and who can resist a floppy ear?

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry that the other women weren't more sociable. You'd think they'd love to have another woman to talk with.

Brave China Doll said...

I am a fellow UUer and am thinking of you! It sounds like you are doing great. Hang in there and take care!

Anonymous said...

You'll wear them down eventually!

Anonymous said...

Somebody has to be the extroverted freak. :)

I check in every few days to see how you are doing, so I was exicted to see that you got wheel chair privileges, but too bad the social hour wasn't.

I like Andrew's idea of adopting an accent - or maybe you could have different accent for each session? That might not lead to the group being more social, but it could be pretty entertaining for you.


Jane said...

The couples who attended my childbirth class were the unfriendliest group I've ever met in my life. So much for "bonding." The only person I remember out of the whole thing was the hourly worker who kept track of each and every 15 minute break we were supposed to have. Keep at it, though. At least one or two of your fellow prisoners will be glad you're there. Remember, the Shawshank inmates weren't all that nice to Andy when he first arrived.

Mary said...

Question for you....
I have a UU also and I was wondering what you did the cycle that you got pregnat. Clomid, IUI, natural? I looked back on your previous posts and I see you took a while before you told 'the Internet'so it didn't mention treatments. I'm just curious, if you don't mind sharing. Feel free to email me at

areyoukiddingme said...

Wow, you'd think being trapped in a hospital would make anyone desperate for a new face or just someone to talk to. How odd.

If I were stuck in the hospital, I think I'd probably just start dialing random room numbers to stave off the boredom.