Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Fourth Floor

I spent some time with a friend at Primary's last night, where she is keeping vigil over her child. She said something that I couldn't get out of my head all night long. She said "anyone who has experience on the Fourth Floor has a sad story to tell." So true. The Fourth Floor has the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, the Cancer Unit, the Transplant Unit, and the Neonatal Critical Care Unit, also known as the NICU. A lot of tears are shed on that floor. A lot of tears are shed on every floor, I imagine. With all the prayers that are offered up from bedsides around the world, hospitals are truly holy ground.

After I left her, I took the short walk to the all-too-familiar NICU entrance for the first time since discharge. I passed by a faded watercolor painting of an Orca whale done by a former patient named Natalie. It was the painting that almost did me in. I hate that painting and I feel badly about it, but it represents our difficult time there. I passed it so so so many times during our stay. Besides, I can't help but always wonder whatever happened to Natalie. I stood outside the unit looking in the window for a moment. I had no desire to go in, no one that I missed or wanted to see, and certainly no memories that I wanted to relive. I suppose that I know now for sure that I will never have the warm and fuzzy feelings for the Primary's NICU that I still hold for UVRMC, our hospital of origin.

My beautiful friend shared some heartbreaking observations she has made and things she has seen around her during their stay. It brought back a flood of memories, reminding me of the biggest lesson that we learned during our incarceration: that there is always someone that has a more difficult situation medically, emotionally, or financially. (For example, there is a a post that was written by the brother of one of our NICU buddies. -- There is even a way to help, should you feel so inclined).

Anyway, I don't know exactly where I am going with this post. I was just up all night with my heart hurting, wishing I could save the world and a little depressed that I have to settle for more realistic expectations. I know from experience how valuable it is to be loved and nurtured through a crisis and I have also come to learn that not everyone is so fortunate. When someone is suffering for their own sake or on behalf of someone they love, no effort is too small, no contribution of love, money, faith, food, support, or time is unappreciated.

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