A Soothing Balm: Healing a Painful Experience

NOTE: this is part 3 of a 3 part series. For Part 1, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE.

I want to add a postscript to my Personal Journey story that appeared in the July 2017 edition of the HF’s SomnusNooze. Karen BergerIt relates to the traumatic experiences I had due to my idiopathic hypersomnia and being hospitalized. Because of the letter I wrote and sent to the hospital where I had surgery, a care process is being developed for people who are hospitalized with hypersomnia. Amazing! I still get tears of joy when I think of it.

I feel compelled to share with the hypersomnia community the follow-up letter that I sent to the administrative staff at the hospital. I especially want others diagnosed with hypersomnia to know that speaking up and sharing our stories can have a very powerful, positive impact. Our stories serve to help others understand our challenges living with the symptoms of hypersomnia.

Dear XXXXXX,

I want to share how grateful and thankful I am for your response to my letter about my hospital stay at XXXX last November. Receiving the phone call from you and the subsequent letter from XXXX has felt like a soothing balm has been poured over a very painful area of my life; this experience has been incredibly healing. I have shed many tears of joy recently.

Moving from being very confused about the trauma I felt, to finally understanding it, was very difficult work, especially because I was dealing with so many other medical issues as well my idiopathic hypersomnia. Sending the letter to the hospital was difficult as I felt extremely vulnerable; I had no idea of how the hospital would react. Therefore, having the additional closure of knowing the hospital understands what I experienced is absolutely amazing. I do not have adequate words to describe how this feels. Knowing that XXXX Hospital is actually formulating some sort of care plan for when people with hypersomnia arrive at the hospital is exactly what I hoped would happen; I am so thrilled that this is actually happening.

The hospital’s response is even more precious to me because I recognize that that hospital staff conducted a serious, in-depth examination of the issues involved. This response was not a knee-jerk reaction to my letter. I suspect that someone probably examined my hospital records to see if there was evidence noted about the issues I talked about. I know that you talked to all my doctors; I was able to talk to Dr. XXXX briefly about the situation, and she assured me that a care plan was going to be worked on.

I shared my story with the Hypersomnia Foundation (HF) as well. In doing so, I realized that I described an issue that is much larger and more important than my individual experience at XXXX Hospital. Many in the hypersomnia community have not thought about issues relating to hospitalization and IH. As a result of my story being shared in the HF’s SomnusNooze, I have been told that there are many doctors and sleep researchers who now have a higher level of awareness of this issue. I now very seriously doubt that ANY hospital, ever, has identified a care process for people with hypersomnia. I have, however, through social media, connected with people with hypersomnia who have their own stories to tell about hospital visits. Here is the link to my story as presented there. Please note there are 2 articles:

https://www.hypersomniafoundation.org/share-your-journey-hospital-surgery-and-hypersomnia/

https://www.hypersomniafoundation.org/a-letter-to-my-health-care-system-about-hypersomnia/

I believe that your hospital, by choosing to address issues faced by those diagnosed with hypersomnia who are hospitalized, has now become a national leader among hospitals in dealing with patients who have this diagnosis. And for that, again, I am very grateful.

I want you to know that I am very willing to be involved and helpful in whatever way I can in the future.

Thank you,
Karen Berger

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