A note prefacing this post: I wrote this post and realized that I have not fully followed instructions. It was supposed to be a picture of the same thing in several different ways. Instead I interpreted it as how one place could have different meanings to the person there. Readers, I wanted to let you know beforehand that it’s not a picture of the same thing presented in varied ways.
Various hospital spaces for 4-year-old Ellis at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto, California.
Since the evening she was born, Ellis and I have spent many days and nights at the hospital. This space triggers a mixed bag of emotions in me: initial response to news has centered around fear, confusion, panic, or complete meltdown; secondary emotions, after the news has settled, are those of resolve, determination, hope, faith, and relief. Those varied emotions, never neatly arriving, inundate me when something seems off with Ellis’ condition or when we anticipate an upcoming procedure.
Countless wanderings around various floors of the hospital made me realize that each space unconsciously sets the tone for my emotions.
Ground floor is not a preferred space for us: pre-op and operating rooms. This is where separation occurs before surgery. It mainly involves restless walking around the hospital while waiting to receive an update about the surgery’s progress.
First floor is a refreshing entrance to the hospital: depending on your reasons for coming, it can go either way.
To me, the cardiovascular ICU, CVICU, on the second floor amplifies feelings of dread, anxious waiting, obsessively starting at your child for reassurances that she is breathing. (this place makes me irrational and numb), and asking doctors how the recovery is going. This is the floor that triggers panic attacks and wobbly knees.
The best news to hear in the ICU is that your child is moving up to the third-floor recovery wing; the upstairs exudes a feeling of swifter recovery, hope, freedom, and renewed optimism that we may be going home soon.
It’s a wild emotional journey that never gets easier. This reality of mine has stretched and matured me beyond my years. It’s a strange place to be familiar with, but I feel blessed to have had overcome my darkest moments in this hospital alongside people who understand what it’s like to watch one’s kid bravely fight for their life.