Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Outside the Hospital Window

My daughter slept in her hospital bed peacefully after enduring several hours that were anything but peaceful. Her bi-pap gave her breath as her chest rose and fell with the air flowing in and out. IV pumps clicked and hummed as they provided fluids and medications. After a very long night and morning, I found myself keeping busy by pacing the floor and doing nonsensical tasks of organizing and reorganizing the few belongings I brought along.

I finally quieted my body down and placed myself on the green couch at the back of my daughter's ICU room. With nothing to do but wait and worry, I looked out the window situated directly behind where I sat.

Looking outside, I observed cars driving along the busy road. I imagined for a second where all those people in the cars were speeding off to. Were they going to work? Were they headed to the gym for exercise? Were they off to buy groceries or finish some other mundane errand?

I wanted to be one of those people for a second. I wanted to be driving to work. I would have loved to have been buying groceries or even running to the pharmacy.

I looked a little farther outside and viewed the park just beyond the main street in front of the hospital. The winter weather had limited the activity in this recreational area, but there were a few people braving the temperatures. They ran along the concrete path or walked their animals in the grass. 

I wanted to be one of those people for a minute. I wanted to be doing something ordinary. I didn't want to be in the hospital with my child again. 

Outside the hospital window, life moved on. It was just another regular day for so many people, but it wasn't for me.

I turned away from the window to view my reality. My daughter was in the ICU again. Another respiratory virus found my daughter causing pneumonia, and her lungs needed an extreme amount of oxygen. Her breathing had improved from hours earlier, but she was still seriously ill, again. Absent from the room was my little boy. He was at school trying to maintain a somewhat normal routine during an abnormal time. Separated by illness again, my son and I would have to communicate on the phone later in the evening and hope that would be enough to get us both through this health crisis.

People outside the window didn't seem to have a care in the world. In contrast, my world seemed upside down. No matter how many times I had been in this place with my daughter, it has never gotten any easier. My heart hurt for my daughter, who has fought many health battles. My heart hurt for my son, who has had his own struggles through all of it. I struggled to process my own feelings and anxiety while maintaining a strong front for my daughter, son, and husband.

There was a great juxtaposition with what I viewed in those few minutes. Outside the hospital window, life was as it was expected to be. Inside that room containing the window, nothing was right.

I took a breath and reminded myself of something. Soon, my daughter will be well again. I'll load her into my vehicle to go home. My van will join the parade of cars that never seems to stop. The hospital will soon be in my rear view mirror as I joyfully depart this town. Yet, I'll leave behind dozens of tired parents sitting on a green couch looking outside their child's hospital window.

They'll wish they were me. They will be hoping they will soon be the ones outside the hospital window. And the cycle will continue.

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