Time: Flies By In The Blink Of A Hospital Stay

I’m sorry it’s been quite a while since my last 1 Day 1 Week article. There are various reasons. One is that I was focusing on the Caregiving Insights podcast and have posted four episodes. With otherwise limited time, I simply couldn’t find the hours to write/edit/proof/post/promote an article. Also, the holidays and traveling/getting away from caregiving a week ago for the first time since November 2019 was a factor. Upon landing back in Florida on Monday, I received a text from my mom telling me that my dad was being taken to the ER because of chest pain.

Welcome home!

The Cliff’s Notes version – he had atrial flutter and then atrial fibrillation, which led to a heart ablation procedure. It appears to have worked and my dad’s heart is back into normal rhythm. He returned home on Wednesday with an adjusted diet, medication schedule…and heartbeat.

While writing this post over a few days this week, I’ve been sidetracked by many calls to/from my dad’s physicians (primary and oncologist) and their offices, food shopping, medication preparation, updates to my siblings, getting the house (and myself) ready for caregiving amidst precautionary Covid isolation between/with my parents, and much more.  


I was reflecting on this concept during the wonderful previous week in Austin, Texas…and now even more so. It was about how the past two years of Covid and since my mom became ill in June 2018 has been a blur. Just shy of four years – have flown by. That’s almost 7% of my life! Not insignificant – if any amount of time is, considering how life can change so unexpectedly and quickly.

It got me thinking what previous 7% intervals of life have entailed. Of course, in younger years, that percentage of time was shorter related to calendar length of time. I imagine most of us tend to measure time in years or intervals of years, rather than percentages. Perhaps that’s because days/months/years are easier to grasp or that a percentage can seem more powerful, more daunting? Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure…everything is relative.


It’s relative – because we each live our unique realities. To someone (especially younger) who is healthy and living a full life (Covid notwithstanding), time may fly by, but there’s little to no concern that days and years won’t continue to be enjoyed. For someone seriously ill or dealing with a debilitating chronic disease, each day typically has more significance and flying by takes on different meaning – for various reasons.


Upon high school graduation at 18, the 7% represented 1.25 years of my life. That took me back to the middle of my junior year. Not much life experience, relatively speaking from the shoes in which I stand today. At 18, my reflection was fairly “myopic” – on baseball and a dream of playing professionally.

One other thing – I had been volunteering in older adult communities for three years at that point and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yet, caregiving for my parents was not in my purview.


When I turned 29, that 7% represented 2.1 years. My reflection was deeper at that point. More years…“adult” years…life experiences. To this day, 29 was the only birthday that “bothered” me…for different reasons.

  • My dreams of a baseball career had effectively died when a pitch I threw was hit over 100 mph off my head.
  • While living in the Boston area, my sister was in a horrific car accident in Washington D.C. that left her in a coma for two weeks fighting for her life – and that will always be among the scariest times of my life. Her recovery represented my first official caregiving experiences, in a part-time role.
  • And, for someone who wanted to be a dad – a young one, I hadn’t married or become a father. (Note: marriage came at 30, but children never did.)


At 40 years old, 7% represented almost 3 years. During that span, I had moved to Oakland, California, after some challenging and rewarding post-divorce years. Those three years were exciting and some of the best of my life. They included wonderful new friends, hiking five days a week amidst the beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area, exploring new cuisines from around the world, backpacking in Northern California (Trinity National Forest!), enjoying lots of live music (from the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, to Tom Petty at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, to Crosby, Nash & Young at the Concord Pavilion, to Lyle Lovett at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga), and much more.

I was living a full life. Caregiving for my parents was still not something that entered my mind.  They were living a full life, too – traveling, playing golf, dinners with friends, enjoying their young grandkids, and more.


When I turned 54, almost 4 years of my life comprised 7%. After living back in the Philadelphia area for several years, I had just returned to Oakland. Looking in the rearview mirror from that point, those previous four years mainly focused on a technology startup called Stock4Good that I cofounded and led.

Day after day, year after year, I had packed two days into one. There were many ups/downs professionally – and personally, as a result of the extent of time and energy I put into the business. Thinking about it, that period from 50 to 54 just flew by and was a blur…

…and there still hadn’t been any thoughts about or indication of the need for future caregiving for my parents.


With my 59th birthday four weeks from today, I find myself reflecting similarly, and not-so-similarly, as when I turned 18, 29, 40, and 54. While 7% reflects a shade more calendar time at this point, the past four years of my life have overall been more intense, more challenging, and more meaningful than any similar slice of life prior…or for that matter, may ever be.

7%, or four years ago, Spring 2018 – I had been back in Oakland for about a year and as before had been enjoying friends, food, music, and more.  

Things changed. Fast.

Caregiving was in full view. Right in front of me. Right next to me. Right in my hands.

My mom was becoming seriously ill and needed to be hospitalized immediately, ultimately spending a month in three hospitals. Everything happened so quickly and there wasn’t a second thought – not even a first. Life just changed – in every way.

I looked up and was in Florida leading the caregiving and patient advocacy charge. I’ve been here ever since through my mom’s roller coaster Systemic Scleroderma journey and dad’s cancer journey over the past 17 months, which led to his hospitalization this week.


It truly does fly by in the blink of a hospital stay!

Caregiver/Advocate Takeaways

  • Caregiving is most often a fleeting thought for children and it quickly comes into full view with an unforeseen diagnosis, a fall, etc. Try to engage your parents in conversation now, to at least get the process started. Research the many aspects that would be best to discuss and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from consultants, attorneys, or even friends that have gone through the process.
  • Caregivers and Patient Advocates are in every culture around the world, caring for people of all ages. It’s not just the people that are aging, but also the young with disabilities, middle-aged with cancer, and countless other scenarios at the intersections of age and illness.
  • As a caregiver/patient advocate in an acute (or any) situation, constantly make lists of questions to ask the doctors. Don’t assume you’ll remember. It’s tough enough when not dealing with a stressful situation.
  • If your loved one or the person you’re caring for has an advance directive, know where you can access immediately for doctors and healthcare staff.
  • Ideally family members have discussed an advance directive before there’s a need, so hopefully there’s less stress in an already very stressful situation.
  • Find out if there’s a case manager at the hospital or clinic that can help you. They can be a tremendously helpful resource and ease some your stress.
  • If you are the patient’s healthcare surrogate either by nature of your relationship or through legal documentation, you have a right to receive information about the patient. As in a previous post, I recommend reviewing the American Hospital Association’s Patient’s Bill of Rights.
  • In acute situations, or any time, try to breathe, remain calm, and be low-key positive – the doctors, nurses, patient and other loved ones have a better chance to “hear” what you are saying, as well as feed well off that rather than from frenetic and/or negative energy!

Thanks for reading Time: Flies By In The Blink Of A Hospital Stay. As with other 1 Day 1 Week posts, you’re welcome to share your thoughts below and/or share a story as a full blog post of your own. Whether you’re a caregiver, patient advocate, or involved in caregiving/patient advocacy in some way, the worldwide community of caregivers and patient advocates can benefit individually and collectively from “hearing” what you share about your experiences.

Also, you’re invited to visit our new podcast series on YouTube, Caregiving Insights. The latest episode with Dr. Valerie Williams-Sanchez was updated two weeks ago and addresses patient advocacy and the co-creative experience with healthcare professionals. One to two new episodes will be recorded and posted each month.