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The Uninviting Armchair in the Corner

As a patient with IBD, you have likely spent some time admitted to the hospital. You’ve also probably learned that almost every hospital room is set up nearly the same.

There’s a patient bed. This one usually isn’t negotiable. There’s a tray table for the patient, which is also pretty standard. Then, there is usually a small closet or set of drawers to store your personal belongings. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there’s also a small bathroom inside your room. And then, if you have a private room, there is usually one hard plastic “reclining” chair for guests or visitors or parents or spouses.

I often think about how uninviting this chair is

I think about how coming to visit or stay with someone you love in the hospital is already difficult, and how knowing that this chair is all that awaits you, all that’s offered to provide you “comfort” is absolutely discouraging.

This winter, I thought even more about the chair when I was placed in a room that didn’t have one. In fact, it didn’t have any place at all for anyone outside of myself.

My husband had been in the ER with me from 10 pm until we were put in this room at 7:30 am. My husband is overly sympathetic, extremely kind, and very very patient. My husband told me that he could stand, or even that he would sit on the dirty floor of this very small hospital room. The nurse advised that he could sit in the waiting room down the hall.

We were both so tired. I was scared and in pain, and the idea of my husband being out of view was literally more than I could take in that moment. When the nurse left, I asked my husband to sit down next to me in the hospital bed. I asked him to pretend this was the same size bed we shared at home. I asked him to ignore the fact that this particular hospital room assumed that loved ones could be updated from a distance.

We rely on that chair

When the nurse came back, she questioned us. She failed to understand just how much we relied on that plastic reclining chair that parents or spouses depend on. She was unable to provide a compromise, or even kindness about the situation we had found ourselves in. Several hours later it was determined that this admission would last at least a few days, and I begged to be transferred to a room with an armchair in the corner.

That evening, as my husband slept nearly upright in that illustrious chair, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I looked over to him and thought of all the other people who have slept in that chair and chairs like that over time. I felt so much sadness that their fears aren’t heard. That their comfort is never addressed. They are the ones taking notes, asking questions, supporting patients at every turn, and they aren’t even provided a space to rest, or a blanket and a pillow at night.

This one thing always bothers me

As I‘ve grown used to spending time hospitalized, I’ve realized that this is one thing that truthfully causes me to become upset. While there are so many parts of my journey with Crohn’s that I cannot change, that are unpredictable and frustrating, this is one part that should be a constant. I should not find myself in distress about needing to be admitted to the hospital, and knowing there might not being anywhere for my husband to even sit down, let alone stay overnight. This is one thing that I wish I could change.

Note: I know that accommodations vary from hospital to hospital. Over the last 10 years, I have been admitted in 8 different hospitals, and I have not found one that completely addresses this issue. If you’ve experienced something similar, I would love to hear how you handled the emotions associated with seeing your spouse, family member or loved one be so unaccommodated.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Gypsycowgirl71
    12 months ago

    Hello Amanda, thank you for addressing this issue & yes I feel it is an issue.

    After a recent hospital stay Dec 20th to Dec 27th, for Crohn’s. The pain I was in was the worst I’ve ever experienced. After 4-hrs in ER I was admitted, it was 2:30AM. My husband and I were tired, I was given morphine, & couldn’t make a sound decision due to the pain.

    The room was smaller than a dorm, that lovely plastic chair could barely recline. My husband was able to rearrange the bed I was in so he could sleep somewhat comfortably. By the 3rd day we found out I’d be in for awhile, my husband brought in his camping mattress to sleep on. Threw a blanket down then his mattress, he didn’t want to leave my side with.

    I get it. Hospital staff was great, room was small. Thank you for bringing up this subject. I feel hospitals could try. Be strong.

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    12 months ago

    I’m so sorry you went through such a similar experience, and that your husband had to go so far as to bring a mattress to the hospital! Having IBD or a chronic illness is hard enough, it should not be rendered impossible for our loved ones or caretakers to stay alongside us.

    I hope you’re feeling better now!

    Thanks for the kinds words 🙂

    Amanda ( Team Member)

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