Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Like a Hospital

Will thinks that our blog looks like a hospital. Sure, it is clean and perhaps a little sterile, but the colors are light and airy. Nothing like a hospital if you ask me. It is true that I have a fear of hospitals. They smell weird, artificial, like the air is being masked by some other smell that someone else thinks is how a hospital should smell. I volunteered in a hospital for three summers when I was just becoming a teenager. My father made me do it, so I did. I fought back the tears during the TB test and cringed away from the safety video. I signed up for the front desk and gift shop positions, as far away from the rooms as I thought I could get.

Not true. A few of the front desk duties involved going into peoples' rooms. I had to deliver mail, which was usually to very ill patients, who were making the hospital into a sort of second-home. It was terrifying. I perfected the art of not smelling that first summer and of looking at the people lying in the beds, but not really seeing them. It is a horrible thing to admit, but it was the best that I could do. I would also wheel sick patients from out-patient up to their rooms, which meant I was stuck in an elevator as they sat slumped in the wheelchair, clutching themselves and sometimes moaning. The family members accompanying them would always talk to me cheerfully, ask about school or being a candy-striper. I wonder if they could see the discomfort and sometimes disgust on my face. I tried to smile and make small talk, but I was only 12. I wonder how successful I was at convincing them that I loved my job. Not very, I think.

Still, I loved the freedom of working at the front desk. I was the go-to girl when it came to fixing broken wheelchairs. I'm not sure where my talent for wheelchair mechanics came from, but I was a pro. I loved answering the phones and directing calls. I really loved giving people directions and often accompanying them to different parts of the hospital that were difficult to reach. I loved the old men and Mrs. Bobbi who volunteered at the front desk with me. I would eat lunch (which was free!) with them and steal cappuccinos from the cafeteria and sip them from straws as they sat hidden in the drawer next to my computer. I really loved delivering flowers to peoples' rooms. I could easily stuff my face in the fragrant buds to avoid the awkward smell of the room and no one could blame me for that. I loved their faces as I set the vase down on the table. It was the one time I looked. My favorite thing about volunteering at the hospital were the endless searches for wheelchairs, when we began to run low. I would take back elevators and long corridors deep into the hospital, where wards were left abandoned and lights blinked from disrepair. Sometimes, I thought I might run into the morgue or a psych unit with crazy people staring at me from the other side of a window. That never happened though, and I'm glad. I think it would have scarred me for life.

The point of this ramble, I guess, is to give you an idea of my true feelings for hospitals. My grandmother died in the ICU last December, something that I've yet to get over. She had too much medicine in her, thinning her blood, causing the massive stroke. I can't say that I've forgiven the doctor yet. She had been fine before they put her in there, and now, she's gone. How ironic that I am marrying a future doctor. I think it is a good thing. Perhaps he can after some time convince me of the good of hospitals. Maybe one day, I can understand his love for them and medicine. I hope to be a welcome break for him from the hospital. I never have and probably never will want to hear about his cases. Not because I don't want to, but because I can't handle it. Grey's Anatomy and ER were always too much for me.

Going to the hospital now to have lunch with him is a strange experience. I am fine downstairs in the lobby, but the layout of his hospital is strange and awkward. On your way to the cafeteria, an ill patient may be wheeled, prone in a bed, past you, pushed by EMTs with grim looks on their faces. The floors are too shiny, always, and the fluorescent lights are all too reminiscent of morgue scenes from movies. Takes your appetite away, or at least mine. And then, sitting there in the cafeteria surrounded by people in scrubs with caps on their heads and booties on their feet, chowing down on a hamburger or a salad. How can they eat in the same clothes that they just performed a surgery in, or bathed a patient in or did anything to a patient in? I would need a shower and a sterile clothing change and my mind erased.

And then, there is Will, sitting next to me, eating the Chik-Fil-A that I just brought him, decked out in his scrubs. He is smiling and HUNGRY and eating away with no problem. And, I love him too much and instantly forgive him for eating in the clothes that he just wore while shaving a man's leg, preparing him for his total knee replacement. I quiz him endlessly about the different people who walk past us in the different colored scrubs. The white shirts with navy blue pants and the ones in solid red scrubs are nursing students, he tells me. The white coats are doctors, duh. Even I knew that one. The lab techs can wear what they want, usually floral scrubs or purple ones. People wave and nod their head at him, and sometimes, women come up and introduce themselves and threaten to steal him away. (This is the only picture I have of will in his scrubs. It is from a going away party, themed Kansas. He was the state flower, the sunflower, and I was the state insect, the bee.)

I can't wait for Will to achieve his goal and be whatever kind of doctor that he wants to be. I can't wait to quiz him endlessly for his exams, while not focusing on the terms and what they are. I can't wait to support him and be there for him when he has a bad day or a disappointing case. I think that me and my no-hospital-stories-tolerance will be his hospital-woes remedy. At least I hope that I will be.

1 comment:

  1. Aunt Beezy - Griff and I are reading this blog and it made us misty-eyed (at least me anyway). I am so glad you will be there for my little brother. He will need you and you are just perfect for him. Thank you for taking care of him. xox

    Mare and Griffy