Friends, I’m excited to continue our hospital tour today. Another of my hospital hot spots: the Intensive Care Unit. When I was 10, I had surgery to correct scoliosis. The surgery itself lasted some 12 hours (yikes!), and when I woke up, I found myself in ICU, hooked up to a ventilator. Fun side fact: I’m probably the only person you’ll ever meet who is obsessed with their Pulse Ox…have you ever had yours taken? You know, when they put that little clip thing on your finger and it registers your breathing function. Not to brag or anything, but mine has always been in the upper ’90s.
Anyway, when I was sprung free from ICU and living it up on 3 West, one of my favorite places to escape to was the basement. Of all places in the hospital, the basement has remain virtually unchanged since I last roamed its halls 15 years ago. Everything was the same (well, except for the fact that there is now a McDonald’s, but I’m not bitter, I promise…). I remember making trips down to the cafeteria to get an ice-cold lemonade. And at the end of the long hallway was a tunnel my father and I would always walk through and pretend we were in some action movie.
And down this hallway? Physical therapy. Oh, physical therapy, how my childhood self hated you so. I took my first steps there, and according to my mother, those small steps came at the end of a long, tear-filled journey on my part. But, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if those physical therapists hadn’t pushed me as hard as they did.
When I wasn’t in physical therapy, my mom and I would take the elevator all the way to the top floor of the hospital — the ninth floor — and take a peek out of the huge window at the end of the hallway. It looked out over the city, and at night, the view was particularly peaceful and tranquil — the city lights twinkled and all was quiet.
That’s sort of how I feel about the hospital overall — a series of quiet family moment interspersed with the hustle and bustle of all those medical tests and procedures. We were together, and while it wasn’t the same as being together, say, on a family vacation to Disney World, we were together nonetheless. So maybe my father’s spirit is roaming those halls today, watching over other families and thinking about his own. I asked my mom to share her thoughts on the day, and of course she did…
Melissa asked me to share my feelings about our trip last Saturday to visit Children’s Memorial Hospital before it closes this weekend. When I first heard it was closing, I felt a stirring in my heart. The hospital has so many memories for us…from Melissa’s first surgery at 10 weeks of age, all the way until her last time there at 16. If I had known all the experiences we would have had there, I would have kept a journal along the way! To me, Children’s represents the best of times and the worst of times, as Tolstoy said. There were plenty of scary times, tears and heartbreak there. I remember each one as though it were yesterday. All the times that we didn’t know if Melissa would survive the surgeries or the numerous infections. The time we were there for 31 days. The times when my heart would break for her. The elevator doors where I would have to say goodbye to Janelle as the tears ran down her face. But then, there were the best of times too. Times when our family was together, with no responsibilities except to be with one another. The times when it was late at night and feelings were shared freely. All the visits to Chicago locations to pass the time. All of the wonderful people we met there. The sense of relief when Melissa pulled through with flying colors. And, of course, the joy of going home, all together, once again. I just know that a bit of Brian’s spirit still lingers in the halls of that place. I feel so fortunate that we were able to go down and say goodbye to something that had such an impact on our lives. Here’s to you, Children’s Memorial!
Thank you indeed, Children’s Memorial. We’ll always keep those memories close to our hearts! xoxo