Flashback: June 2011
Jamie had minor outpatient surgery this morning (I will let him decide what health history details to disclose when he is older–it suffices to say that he is fine and home). The 10 hours I ended up spending at Swedish Hospital revived memories that I hadn’t thought about since last June.
I didn’t get much time to blog back then. We spent 6-10 hours a day every day in the Infant Special Care Unit, from June 9, when the girls were admitted, to July 6, when Jamie was discharged. I had previously spent 3+ weeks on bedrest and recovering from delivery in the antepartum and postpartum rooms. The following are things I thought I had forgotten:
- the World’s Slowest Elevators: Southeast Tower.
- the A La Carte Menu (mmm…previously frozen pancakes for breakfast!), and the music they play when you are on hold waiting to place your order.
- the fact that everything in a hospital room that a patient could possibly touch will be thrown away after discharge. We came home with more butt-wipes and diapers this time around. I think we will be using plastic straws and Sani-Handi towelettes from my stay there for a long, long time.
- how long the walk from the lobby to the Southeast Tower used to seem. That first week after my discharge, I needed a wheelchair from the lobby to the ISCU. I still remember the first time I walked it by myself, and how winded I was.
- how much baggage (literally) we had to take with us every day to visit the babies. The cooler for the expressed milk. My pump parts. Snacks. Water. Labels. Today I had the diaper bag, my own bag, and Jamie in his car seat to carry to the front door.
- how much I wished for someone to invent tape for IVs that did not rip off half your skin. (Jamie had an IV today. I couldn’t watch them take it out.)
- the rocking chairs and nursing chairs by every bedside.
- the lab techs’ blood draw carts that reminded me of metal shopping carts.
- the nurse call button = your lifeline to the world outside your room.
- how loud a hospital is. The doors to a patient’s room are generally left open, with only the curtain for privacy. So you simultaneously hear everything going on in the hallway and can’t see or be seen, which is strangely isolating. Every conversation between staff members. Every child running to see a family member. Every announcement or call over the loudspeaker. Every gurney or machine wheeled by. When I was in one room in antepartum, there appeared to be jackhammering on the floor above me at 9 pm. Not exactly a conducive environment for resting, unless you have earplugs.
- those pink plastic water pitchers that never seemed to be enough water for me–I started having the nurses bring two at a time, and still I felt like whatever the opposite of a camel is.
- feeling immobilized. I was holding Jamie in a pediatric unit room, where he was hooked up to an oxygenation monitor and an IV. Of course I couldn’t put him down on the bed, where he would roll, so I had to hold him. We couldn’t go very far from the equipment–about a two-foot radius. During my stay, I was immobilized not by technology but by my physical condition; I had to request to walk down the hall to the water fountain (see above item). After the c-section, I could barely make it to the bathroom six feet from my bed.
- the extraordinary compassion of the nurses, physicians, and staff who work at Swedish. In particular today, nurse Linda from the ISCU whom I ran into when I donated preemie clothes for their supply, and Dr. Mark Gibson, the pediatric anaesthesiologist who is all things a doctor should be: patient, calm, open-hearted, sincere, kind, personable, honest, direct, receptive. I truly believed that he treated Jamie as though he were his own little boy.
With three children, odds are that we will be back at the hospital for something: a broken bone, stitches, pneumonia, whatever it may be. I am grateful that my experiences there make hospitals a less scary place.