I have always avoided direct exposure to sunlight. I know our body makes vitamin D from sunlight, but I also know some of the negative effects if we’re exposed too much or without sunblock. I unfortunately haven’t found a good sunblock for my picky sensitive skin, so I have always hid from the sun, and chose to get my vitamin D from supplements.
Since I got confined 2 months ago, I haven’t been exposed to sunlight at all. My bed is near the door and I don’t have a window, so I also haven’t seen the outside world for a while. The closest I got was a 3-second glimpse of the sky and the top of a condo building through the hallway window, whenever a nurse midwife took me (by wheelchair) to my routine ultrasound exams.
Last week, the patient next to my bed on the window side, was fortunate to have been discharged, after over 3 months! After she left in the morning, I opened the divider curtain and saw the window. I dragged my IV stand, walked towards it and in front of me I saw trees and a building (of this hospital). The building is quite close but it’s a low one so there was enough sunlight coming through and I could see the sky if I look up. And at an angle to the left, I saw for the first time in 2 months, the “outside world”. I saw buildings, houses, a temple and people walking… I smiled. I went back to my bed and kept the divider curtain open, and that entire day, although I could only see the trees and the opposite building from my bed, I felt quite cheerful. My area of the room was bright coz of the sunlight, and I didn’t have to turn on the lights until sunset.
I got curious why I felt that way and did some internet reading. Apparently, exposure to sunlight activates production of serotonin in our body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects emotional processing which helps stabilize our mood and gives us happy feelings (somewhat similar to dopamine), so it’s used in drugs for depression and anxiety disorders. I read a few sites about sunlight and serotonin, and there were some articles saying that understanding serotonin still requires a lot of study, etc. But for me, I was sure that I felt a huge difference in my mood that day, which I never felt since I got here. I still have 8 more weeks of stay (at that time) so I thought, “I need a window!”
I asked the nurse midwife assigned to me the next day if I can be transferred to the bed next to the window, but due to “policy”, they can’t move me unless it’s to a private room. I felt disappointed. Having a window and letting sunlight come through was a normal and a given thing at home so I never really appreciated it. But I guess, it’s only when the norm is taken away from us that we realize how we take some things for granted. Anyhow, I thought to just open the divider curtain everyday, unfortunately, a new patient came to that bed, who eventually left after 2 days, but then another one came. I started feeling depressed about not being able to see the outside, and because all the other patients in my 4-bed shared room have come and gone, while I remained. I felt so left out and envious, coz I also really want to go home. I was downhearted…
It’s been over a week now since my “window moment” and I thought I’d write this post to share how I’m longing for sunlight. As I started writing, a nurse midwife came and told me I can move to the bed by the window… I couldn’t believe it! I’m not sure what happened, and ironically, the nurse midwife that told the management that I wanted to move, was the one that accidentally gave me my biggest hematoma so far, when changing the needle for my IV. I kind of got scared of her coz of that, but this shows we can never really know who would end up helping us.
So now, I’m writing this post bathing under the sunlight (through the window), in a happy mood. I decided I won’t hide from the sun anymore and to appreciate the sunny days. And once I’m out of the hospital, I hope to have more walks at the park with my family and our new baby. But I need to find a good sunblock before then…