I remember my mother coming to see me just before they took me to the Operating Room. I was surprised that she did not bring me any food and would not let me drink any water either. She did promise that I would get Ginger Ale and Popsicles when I got back from having my operation, though, so I relaxed about the "no food" thing. My mother would see that I had the same two elements of our diet when we were sick at home. Mom was there when I got out of surgery, I am sure. Well, I don't know for absolutely sure as I do not remember it but my mother was rather a lioness where her children were concerned so I would imagine that she would have waited to see that I was okay after surgery before heading home!
I do not know how many days I was in the hospital but it was not the "in and out" thing it is for children today. What I remember was that I could make the most of each day, exploring, playing with other kids who could not get out of their beds but did not have restrictions, books to "read" and all kinds of things to do in the playroom. The days were not the problem. It was the nights.
Each and every night, from the first to the last, was the same. I sat in that large pediatric crib made for pre-schoolers and young children, all alone in the dark room. There were muffled noises outside the room but it was so black inside the room. There were other such cribs in the room but no other children. The crib was right across from a nearby window which allowed me to see the bright lights of the city against the night sky. The pediatrics floor was on one of the upper levels so it was as though I was sitting atop all the houses, looking down. It felt good in the daylight but it was the single loneliest experience I can remember from my childhood. It is the only truly negative part I recall of hospitalization as a child. Every single night I was there, looking at the lights against the dark sky from my oh-so dark room and tears just streamed down my five-year-old cheeks. I wanted my parents, my sisters who also slept in the same room as I did at home and I just did not understand why I had to be in this lonely place. Why didn't they come to take me home? I talked to God over and over to tell Him every detail of my day as I always did but it just wasn't enough; I needed my family, my home, my own clothing and familiar place next to my sister in the big bed. Each dark and lonely night I asked God that it be my last one there as I cried and cried. I begged Him to tell my parents to come and get me.
People will tell you that children are resilient and they will forget all about these things. Ha, not ALL children will "forget all about these things"! While studying for my Masters at the University of Virginia, one of the professors asked us to recall any memories we had of being patients in a hospital as children. One by one the other pediatric nursing graduate students gave whatever they could recall of their experiences so many years ago. When it was my turn, I was dumbfounded to find myself crying like that five-year-old once again as I recounted to my colleagues the nights in that crib, looking at those city lights!
A wonderful memory of that hospitalization was the day my father and mother came to take me home! I do not recall the ride in the wheelchair from my room to the Emergency Room ramp, though it is likely that there was one; but, I recall as though it happened yesterday being taken up in the strong arms of my father. There is just no list of joyful synonyms that could come close to describing how good it felt to be carried down that ambulance ramp to the waiting car that would take me home!
****A few thoughts for today. Coming tomorrow.