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Looking after yourself

What can be helpful when I am coping with my loved one’s critical condition?

Few people are prepared for their loved one’s critical illness or injury. It is usually an experience involving a flood of emotions including fear, anxiety, anger, exhaustion, frustration and loss of control. These feelings are all normal, and many family members have described it as an ‘emotional roller coaster ride’. But it’s important to keep in mind that taking good care of the patient involves taking good care of yourself.

In order to manage your feelings, and cope with the situation, you may want to consider the following:

  • Make sure that you eat properly, get sufficient rest and take care of your personal needs.
  • Some families are reluctant to leave the hospital, fearing that their loved one could take a turn for the worse when they are away. If you are not sure it is an appropriate time to leave, talk it over with the team members. They will let you know if they feel you need to stay.
  • Think about what other help might be available to you. That might involve reaching out to family and friends, hospital support staff, clergy and other members of the community. They might be able to help you with emotional and practical support, such as bringing you homemade meals, helping with child care, or transportation needs.
  • Some families find that sending emails to a list of people can help update others about the patient’s condition, and reduce the need for many telephone conversations.
  • It is fairly common for some visitors to feel uncomfortable in the ICU. If you feel in any way lightheaded, make sure that you find a seat and let someone know you are not well.

If I live far away, what options do I have to stay close?

There are several types of accommodations Link will open in a new window – with varying rates – relatively nearby Sunnybrook.

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Location and contact

Critical Care Medicine

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, 
D-wing, 1st floor
room D1 08
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4522
Fax: 416-480-4999

For information about patients admitted to Sunnybrook's Intensive Care Units, please contact the unit through the hospital switchboard at 416-480-6100