Being on the Other Side of the Hospital Bed

I’ve heard that smells are often a common trigger for memories because they connect to certain areas in the brain responsible for sensations and emotions. When I was last discharged I bid a fair adieu to those foul, antiseptic, nauseating, sterile scents of a hospital and didn’t look back. But I didn’t think I’d experience them again so soon….this time as a visitor.

This past week I experienced first hand what it was like to stand bedside to a loved one. Getting the call that an ambulance was coming and to meet at St. Mikes, we raced against traffic and this time I was the one paying to park (but only once thanks to friends who share their underground parking). I stood while we waited in emergency for X-Ray results and a prognosis, only to feel the stomach churn of bad news and then continue to wait for a bed upstairs.

It’s odd being in this new role, and suddenly I felt a new perspective take on a whole different meaning. I always felt sad for my family and friends who had to endure long waits, uncomfortable chairs, paying to park, searching for the correct room, lugging care packages and being on call for any new developments. But for the first time I REALLY understood that none of that matters. They didn’t care about watching NBA playoffs on a small screen or having to wear a gown and gloves while in isolation. They cared about me.

When then nurse came to tell us they had finished resetting my Dad’s broken bones the first thing she said was, “He’s a little out of it, but he’s funny!” I can only hope that I offered the same comic relief as him from my own hospital admissions. Seeing how friendly he was to the nurses, doctors and roommates I again, only hope I offered the same positivity as him and gracious attitude as you always meet someone who is worse off than you.

I’ve been there Big Guy. I know the struggle of restless nights and a dreary looking recovery ahead. I know feeling of life being put on hold and the “what now?” questions. I know how difficult it is to depend on other people. I know how frustrating is it to feel like something so simple like walking or going to the bathroom can be taken for granted. I know the “why me?” feeling. But it’s just a blip. A small blip in your life, and now I’m strong enough to help carry your baggage too.