Why Hospitals Don’t Suck: Notes From a Former Hater

hospital

I don’t remember much after fainting.  It’s all abstract confetti of snapshots, sound bites and smells like the exam room that suddenly became the size of an Altoid, echoes of, “we’re almost there” from inside the ambulance and then warm pressure from Jenáe’s cheek against mine, hushing me in the darkness.

I was sick.

Really sick.

And scared.

Six days earlier my gallbladder was removed.  It was supposed to be a routine procedure with a routine result: no more gallbladder attacks and a return to the beloved cheeseburger. But it was not routine.

I had a series of complications: stones in my common bile duct, an infected bile duct, pancreatitis and, the pièce de résistance, hepatitis.  The infected bile duct was what landed me back in the hospital; the other stuff was what kept me there for over two weeks.

It’s no secret that I have had a quiet loathing of hospitals.  I think it’s been that way since age 4 when I tripped on Grandmere’s rust-colored shag carpet and broke my face on the base of her dining room table.  I was rushed to the hospital then.  And a few times since.

I’ve always found hospitals to be a deceitful sort.  The way they embrace you as you walk in.  The way they’re often filled with light and flowers and a calming waterfall stocked with lily pads and unassuming fish or a player piano, which is just weird. The way the air is heavy and sterile, masking the scent of death, illness and suffering.

The way it so easily is the last place some will ever see.

But let’s be honest.  I’d never had an extended stay before.

I’d never formed bonds with nurses and doctors, dependent on them for my every waking need.  I’d never looked forward to morning blood draws on the off-chance they’d reveal something different.  I’d never been so comfortable being nude before multiple pairs of eyes, looking at me with only my return to health in mind.

In truth, I had never been so vulnerable.

We became like family, FHN Memorial Hospital’s 3rd floor medical staff and me.  Patient ID 216570.  Room 3308.

I made friends with everyone.

I knew their faces; I knew their names:

Captain Carter took me for MRI’s and CAT scans.  Betsy took me for walks.

Jennifer and Erica squeezed my hands during my liver biopsy (note to reader: never get a liver biopsy), while Elaine cradled my fears.

Jena brought me laughter, OPI nail polish and a recent issue of Cosmo.  Jackie brought me peace.

Sam, who smelled of lemon trees, quietly confessed the contents of her car: 3 bags of cookies and 2 bags of M&M’s hidden from her personal trainer husband.  Paige confessed she’d never know anyone as brave as her mother and showed me the underside of her wrist inked in homage.

There were others, of course, but these I count as family.  As sisters.

They helped me inhale blessings and exhale anxiety and lament.

In the deep of night, they were there.  When my bed became a tangled web of breath, lines and limbs, they were there.  And when I didn’t even know it or couldn’t feel it, they were there.

Constant.

Unwavering.

At the end of February, I was released.  And while I still have a long way to go, I couldn’t have done anything without my hospital family.

I hope to go back for a visit once I’m feeling better.  And I also hope to go to nursing school, so I can be the one who holds hands in the dark and hearts in the light.

For now though, I am a reformed hospital hater.

Rehabilitated.

Transformed.

And utterly thankful.

  One thought on “Why Hospitals Don’t Suck: Notes From a Former Hater

  1. lkgaddis
    March 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Beautifully stated. I’m sorry to hear of all you have been through. How lovely to have had such a good experience to help you through a not-so-good one. Best wishes in your recovery.

    • Brooke
      March 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Wow….perfect.

      • March 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

        Thanks, Brooklyn.

        Love. you.

    • March 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you for stopping by and for your well-wishes. They’re working.

  2. March 17, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Dear Dani, my precious friend whom I have never met, likely never will this side of heaven, and yet have become such a blessing to me with the medicine of your spirit/words/life:

    I just want you to know how touched I am by what you wrote, and also how relieved I am as well…for I have been praying for you literally every day and often multiple times a day! I had not idea what, but I could feel something was grave, something was afoot, and I was skert that at some point there would be a note which indicated tragedy or destruction or both.

    I have been actually sobbing for you the last half hr…so full of relief that you are on the mend and that I at last know what was shadowing and burdening my heart…and also as always, so inspired at the way you have intentioned to mindfully and deliberately collect every last speck of trouble that life served up, til you had it all, and then just pitch it right straight back with your love bigger than Easter Sunrise, and feisty tenacity.

    Bless you, bless you, and always bless you, little spider who spins from herself and her toils a web which will bring so many life.

    Love, your sis Charissa

    • March 17, 2014 at 11:59 pm

      Dani,
      I have been continuously updated by Rick. I didn’t know how appropriate it would be for me to call.

      You amaze me with yourstrength, and I am sure the hospital staff thinks you are a star patient and wonderful person.

      Maybe we can skype when Rick gets back in town. I wish you nothing but love and good health!

      Sherry

      • April 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm

        Sherry, how did I miss this?!?!? I’m so sorry that I’m just now responding.

        It would have been more than appropriate for you to call and I’d love to chat soon.

        Thank you, friend ❤

    • March 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Charissa, there was so much love in this comment. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and beautiful sentiments.

      I especially loved this:

      “Bless you, bless you, and always bless you, little spider who spins from herself and her toils a web which will bring so many life.”

      Simply. poetic.

  3. Jenae Goede
    March 18, 2014 at 1:08 am

    It was an honor as your friend to serve you in your extreme time of need. I love you sweet woman and I am blessed by your life and it’s impact on mine!

    • March 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Thank you, as always, for your volunteer’s heart, Jenae.

      You are loved.

  4. March 18, 2014 at 4:26 am

    What a relief to read your elegantly written words and to learn more of the details of what you’ve been going through. Renato kept me posted when to pray the hardest, though you have been in my heart daily of course, Dear Dani. So grateful to know you are going to be okay – whew! Let me know when you’re up for a call. I miss you, my friend, and look forward to reconnecting when the time is right for you. So much love continuing to come your way. xoxo

    • March 22, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you for your heartfelt prayers, Ginny girl. I have missed you…more than you know.

      Please know I am MUCH better–not normal quite yet, but getting there.

      Let’s chat soon ❤

  5. Giselle de Luca Zanatta
    March 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Dani querida, gostaria de ter estado ,alem de coracao ,pessoalmente ai contigo ,segurando tuas mãos e conversando contigo enquanto te recuperavas, agradeco as pessoas que fizeram isto tao bem, espero que recuperes logo, ❤️❤️❤️

    • March 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Obrigada, irma. Sei que tu tavas pensando em mim e senti tuas maos segurando as minhas.

      Estou melhorando gracas a todos–incluindo voce.

      Beijos ❤

  6. April 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Your expressions are rich and pure, a blessing to read.
    It’s a few weeks later that I read this post, and understand, now, why you kept coming to mind . . . to pray for you. How are you now?

    • April 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      I’m much better, Jane. Getting better and stronger everyday and praying that I continue to do so.

      Thank you.

      For. everything.

  7. April 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I don’t like hospitals either but I do love that teddy-bear.

    • April 15, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks, Jack. Wilbur was a great help and support to me while I was sick.

      And I love that he’s inked by those who helped me recover.

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