Monday, March 10, 2008

Unexpected Storm

It’s been a tough couple of days. I spent Thursday first sitting in one hospital with my son, then trailing an ambulance which transported him to another hospital. It started with him complaining of "not feeling so good," and escalated to his being barely able to walk. The rest of that night, from about 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., I was sitting in a metal folding chair next to his gurney in a loud, chaotic emergency room, stooped over with my forehead resting on the edge of his mattress. Fortunately he was able to rest and get the IV fluids he needed, but by 4:00 a.m. I was so tired of sitting awake in that metal chair I thought I would faint. By 5:00 a.m. I was pretty loopy. They kept apologizing “but the room’s not ready,” they said.

Apparently a day or so earlier my son caught some bug that was going around (possibly strep) and it threw his diabetes into a tailspin. He developed ketoacidosis, where the blood becomes acidic, and was severely dehydrated. Our local hospital didn’t feel equipped to handle the situation and transported him by ambulance (via five burly fire-fighters) to the Children’s Hospital on the hill. Fortunately a few days there have set things right, and my boy is nearly himself again.

Spending time at Children’s hospital is always eye-opening for me, because I’m reminded of the countless families out there coping with worry and grief. I pass them in the hallways, or see them in the cafeteria, or get a glimpse of them in their child’s room. For some of them, the hospital routine is old hat, as their son or daughter has continually battled a disease or condition. There’s a certain look in these parents’ eyes that is all too familiar. It’s a wise, weary, hopeful-but-guarded look. They smile at me, and I smile back, and we share a brief, silent, electrical connection. It’s a single instant that says, “I empathize with whatever you’re going through. Best wishes.”

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