If you've read here for a while, you know how we are quite accustomed to being in the hospital. Thankfully, we have not been in the hospital for a while...knock on wood. Earlier this week, however, I spent a couple of days in a grown-up's hospital. The differences between a Children's hospital and a regular hospital were quite striking.
My mom has been fighting cancer like a rock-star since January. Monday was the day to surgically remove the rogue tumor that was threatening to make a run for it. Being that she does not live nearby, I have been trying to get to her every month or so to visit. Once the subject of surgery came up, I wouldn't hear a no from her about my coming to be with her.
We have family there, but I wanted to be there to help with anything she needed, and really just to be there because it's my mom and she was having a double mastectomy.
I took her to surgery early Monday morning, and we got her checked in. When it was time for her to go back into pre-op, I realized I was out of my element. I didn't answer any of the questions for her, like I am used to doing for Max. No one addressed me. I was just there for support. Which, to be honest, was a bit strange. I did get to go out at hour 2 1/2 and ask when they would be taking her back because she was getting increasingly anxious to get going. But, other than that, I just sat back and observed.
This hospital was the hospital where I was born. It's a large pink Catholic hospital. I can not ever remember going there for anything in my childhood years. I was a fairly healthy child. The only time I was ever there was when I was back visiting, to announce my first pregnancy to my family. I miscarried the next day and went to the pink hospital of my birth to be checked out, and ultimately told I had "spontaneously aborted the pregnancy".
Each room has a crucifix hanging on the wall. Mom's doctor came in to ask her if she had any questions, and if she understood what was happening - so they're were for certain on the same page. Mom understood the procedure and had no questions, but introduced me to her doctor and asked that she come out to talk to me once she was finished. Then the doctor asked if Mom would like for her to pray with her. I sat a little stunned.....she can't do that. But, then I saw Jesus looking down from his cross and remembered we weren't at a University hospital. So, I bowed my head and peeked a few times to make sure this was really happening.
Family came back in waves to visit with my mom before her surgery. This was also something very different from my usual hospital experiences. At Children's, we go back with Max. That's it. It's rare they let another visitor come back. And if they do, you have to explicitly tell them you want them back there. So, while it was nice for mom to have the visitors to have encouragement before surgery, it was another observation that was different from my usual hospital experiences.
I held the little pager while she was in surgery, and visited with the rest of my family while we waited. When the pager went off, I saw the surgeon come out. She explained that everything went well and she was going into recovery. Mom asked for me and my Grandfather to come back, since two could come back at a time. She wanted me to move her car over to the area of the campus we would be staying, and take her things up to her room. Once I went back with Grandfather, I traded off with my sister to move the car and head up to the in-patient rooms.
I walked through the halls, and was greeted with a large photo of the wrong Pope before I got on the elevators. I felt like someone needed to know they had the wrong guy up there. It was something that annoyed me the entire stay. Not that I'm of the Catholic faith, just that it was like having a picture of the wrong President up.
I got up to the 2nd floor, the maternity and OB/Gyn floor. I smiled as I thought, wow...this is where I started my life. Talk about coming home again. I go stuck behind a patient being moved on her bed, and only realized once I got almost to her room that it was my Mom. Her bald head still throws me off a bit.
I walked into her room and the nurse told me to wait outside so they could get her checked in. It threw me a bit. "But, I'm with her...She's my mom", I wanted to say. But, again, a difference in being there for someone who can completely speak for herself, I was not the person making decisions for the patient, so I went outside and sat, and waited.
It's really something how accustomed I have gotten to talking with doctors, and nurses. I knew all their lingo...I knew what they were doing...but the whole time felt a bit like a fly on the wall watching it all happen to my mom. Through the night she slept hard, and I stayed awake, waiting and watching for her to tell me if she needed anything, or if the nurses needed help. And *gasp* I didn't need to stay up at all. It was so unlike being in the hospital for Max. He needs constant help through the night.
One thing was absolutely the same. 6:00am...lights fly on and the surgeons come in with their cheery way too early in the morning voices to check on the patient, not to be seen again the rest of the day. (Not that she needed it...seriously...rock star!)
Through this whole time of being there with and for my mom through chemo treatments, imaging results, and surgery, I've really gotten a good understanding of what it must be like for her to come here when Max is sick. Only, it's doubly hard for her. She sits and watches her daughter and grandson, wanting to make it better, only not having the magic whatever it is to make it better.
So, we're there for each other. To sit and watch. Because, I suppose in the end, it's better to have that than nothing at all.