• Carmen Marie Fabio

Pillow talk


Although I'm pretty cheap by nature, there are some things I refuse to compromise on. I've learned the hard way not to buy inexpensive shoes – you only get one pair of feet in life. One son says never to cheap out on beer, the other swears you always have to buy good quality toilet paper.

My latest extravagance is a quality pillow because a good night's sleep is worth investing in. Not to mention a comfortable place to read on a rainy afternoon or a decent nap on the couch. I currently have one of those memory foam models with one side permanently cool due to some blue stuff technology. The kids have their preferences, including the overstuffed green one, the skull's head, and the one covered in swimming Rainbow Trout. Even the dogs have their favourites – the round, fake fur covered canine bed in the coveted spot by the fireplace and the larger rectangular floor pillow in front of the television. And, for some strange reason, the shaggy grey couch pillow purchased at a décor store sale that my Jack Russell has claimed as her own personal throne.

I had reason to reflect on our (okay, my) pillow obsession when my son was recently hospitalized at the Lakeshore General. The nurses and staff were wonderful and he received excellent treatment but we were informed late in the day in the Emergency Room that the specialist would not be available to see him until the following morning.

“Can we get him a pillow?” I asked the nurse upon realizing he would be in overnight.

“If I can find one,” she replied. “That's the one thing that always goes missing.”

Now, I can't imagine why anyone would steal a pillow from a hospital. Stealing anything from a place where underfunded and overextended staff work miracles on a daily basis to ensure patients are treated with care and dignity is unacceptable. But stealing the rudimentary elements of human comfort – a pillow for crying out loud – from an emergency room gurney is about as low as someone can sink.

I was close to tears at that point and my son ended up comforting me from the stretcher while the concerned nurse asked me if I was okay to drive home. And while I realize the lack of a pillow ranks pretty high among First World problems, it was the one thing that I, as a non-medical mom, could've offered to make him feel better and it just wasn't available.

Hospitals, and especially emergency rooms in this province, get such a bad rap but I can say that despite the overcrowding, the continued arrival of ambulances, the yelling and swearing from some patients, and the lack of pillows, the orderlies, nurses, and doctors were polite and professional.

There are myriad ways to help the hospital in continuing to work daily miracles and pillows may not even be the most pressing need but if everyone were just a little more comfy, maybe the yelling and swearing would be one less thing for the staff to deal with.

My son texted me later that night to tell me they had found him a pillow, news that made us both feel a little better.

Never underestimate the recuperative powers of basic comfort.

To help out the Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation keep a pillow on every bed, or whatever else the area of greatest need is determined, contact https://fondationlakeshore.ca/donate/general-donations/.