Every area of the hospital has a different feel for me. The emergency room is a mixture of relief that we arrived at the hospital in time and stress as we await initial testing and diagnostic work up. The regular hospital floors generally have a feeling of calmness with a mild amount of stress. On the floor, there are periods of happiness that things are improving or sadness that the healing is slow but these are not intense feelings. Even going to the hospital for a doctor's appointment has it's own feel. The feeling is one of tolerance in being in a place with so many bad memories but also joy that there is no "danger" factor in the simple clinic visit.
The I.C.U. is the place with the strongest feelings and most negative conations for me. For 8 days, Jaycee was recently in the intensive care unit (I.C.U.) due to complications from a pneumonia and the rhino virus. Jaycee has been in I.C.U. 4 times now for breathing issues like pneumonia and a few other times for surgery recovery. The I.C.U. is known for things going from calm and stable to chaos in a moment without warning. The worst day for us with this admission was day one when Jaycee's breathing got so bad that a ventilator was being discussed. Fortunately, she improved but needed bi-pap support for several days.
There were calm moments for us as things slowly improved for Jaycee but we were well aware of heartbreak and bad events happening around us. When a large group of the I.C.U. team gathers outside a room, I get nervous for the child and the family. We have been that room before where the team congregates and makes a plan to adjust for the latest hiccup. As I sat in the hospital room, my mind couldn't help but recall the horrible, scary time for us in I.C.U. last fall. I thought about how Jaycee's blood pressure crashed and sent her spiraling downhill so quickly. I thought about my many breakdowns in the room, the hall, and the parent lounge. I thought of the uncertainty and the most horrific events in that stay that still haunt and affect me now. I thought I was losing her. Months later, I'm 9 beds away from where all that activity happened. I'm in another serious situation with my daughter, and I'm helpless again. I'm encountering some of the amazing nurses and doctors that helped her the last time. I'm grateful for them but at the same time, I don't want to see them again. I want to forget about that time in Jaycee's life when I wondered if she'd make it back home.
The I.C.U. is scary. Until the illness hits its worst point, there's uncertainty, worry, stress, panic, and fear. There's a reassurance that there are people around who know what to do, but also the realization that not every child pulls through every time. We have walked by rooms full of family members saying good-bye to their child. It's awful. It's intense. It's your worst fears of a mother being thrown in your face to deal with.
The best thing about the I.C.U. is when your child is deemed stable and well enough to leave, exiting those double doors hoping never to have a reason to walk through them again. I left I.C.U. happy that Jaycee survived, was improving, and on her way to recovery. But I also left with more emotional baggage, worries about the future, and fears about how this illness will affect her health in the near future.