Fortunately, my experience with hospitals has been limited. The two times I gave birth (and many premature labor visits) and a few other isolated incidents.
My worst experience in a hospital was the weekend Ian was diagnosed.
Since that weekend, we’ve been back to that same hospital 3 times: once for a follow-up, the initial visit with the doc about celiac, and then his procedure earlier this week.
I find the hospital daunting and comforting at the same time. How is that possible?
It’s a cheery beautiful hospital, except for the ER which is kinda scary, and we’ve had nothing but excellent care there.
That hospital is the place we learned about Ian’s diagnosis and medical needs. It is where I cried a whole lot of tears and where I had to be brave for my little boy. It is the where we learned how to provide him with care he would require for the rest of his life.
Since he was diagnosed on a Friday night, it was very quiet and slow in the hospital that whole weekend. All the offices were closed. That weekend it was just parents and sick children and the people who cared for them.
After Ian’s procedure on Thursday, he rode home with his dad and step-mom and I found myself walking to the cafeteria. First I had to make a trip to endocrinology which was across the hospital in an adjoining building. As I made the trip over and back, I realized that I was walking through the hospital with ease and confidence. I was familiar and comfortable in my surroundings.
And as I passed many families and children, I wondered to myself what their reason was for being there? Was it just a check-up? Are they awaiting test results? Are they being treated? Receiving therapy? Is their condition fatal? Will they be ok? Is this the first time they’ve been here?
I saw each child and each parent as a reflection of Ian and myself.
I felt an odd connection and I weird range of emotions.
I felt sympathy and I felt empathy. I felt sadness and I felt hope. I felt shock that this many children needed medical care and I felt grateful that it is available to all of us.
The weekend of his diagnosis, the hospital cafeteria is where I spent my “down time” – what little we had. Whether it was for a meal break or to give his dad’s side of the family some privacy, I would head to the cafeteria. I sat and read the pamphlets and books they gave us. I answered text messages. I ate soup and drank coffee.
The cashiers were always so sweet, as if they could see the pain and worry in my face and every time when I checked out I would think, “How many mothers do they see like this every day? Does it make them sad? Is that why they seem so gentle and kind?”
So before I left the endocrinology office, I stopped in the cafeteria to get some coffee and a meal to go. Part of me wanted to sit and eat right there, in a place that I knew and felt comfortable in.
As I checked out, I felt an increased sense of confidence and hope. I was back, 2 1/2 months after the first fateful weekend and I was more knowledgeable than ever and armed with the skills I needed to care for Ian. Ian and I had survived 2 1/2 months of diabetes, he was improving and adjusting, and I was also on the mend.