People associate hospitals with a lot of emotions -- helplessness, fear, hope (or hopelessness) -- or sensations -- pain, -- or senses -- bright lights, strong smells. But since I practically grew up in hospitals -- my dad is a doctor -- they actually bring back a lot of happy memories.
I don't remember my own birth, of course, but with twenty-plus cousins we were always at the delivery ward (5th floor) visiting an aunt and a new cousin. We loved running over to the nursery and looking at the cute little babies (although I remember feeling sad and squeamish as we past the little ones in incubators who obviously were starting out in life with a bit of a struggle). I do remember several visits to old relatives with serious illnesses (9th floor), but being so young I never really dwelt on what it really meant. As far as I was concerned, I was happy because I got to eat the pastries that other family members had brought in to offer to visitors.
We loved visiting my dad's office (2nd floor). His secretary always had a kind word and a pencil and paper for me to draw with, and if he was visiting a patient in the hospital we'd get to play in his office with his stethoscope and plastic models of kidneys and hearts. Sometimes -- o treat of treats -- he would give us some money and send us down to the cafeteria for some snacks (we'd always take the back stairs and feel like we were important "insiders" because we knew the back routes). But as we grew older, those office visits often grew long and boring, especially when they fell on weekend afternoons, on the way home from our grandmother's house. Hearing my dad say he had to "Go on Rounds" would always bring out groans from me and my siblings, because it meant we had to sit in the car or play in the parking lot for what seemed like hours.
My personal hospital experiences have involved some pain (or "minor discomfort" as hospital personnel like to say), of course, but all have had positive outcomes. My first hospital stay involved dental surgery, two impacted molars, in my late teens. I had outpatient surgery in my twenties to remove two large moles (I remember being fascinated with the sizzle and smell of my burning flesh as they cauterized my skin -- perhaps the pain meds got me all loopy). And I've been in the maternity ward twice. I suffered through an insanely long and painful labor with The Pea versus a short and painless labor with the twins, but both labors resulted in healthy vaginal births. And my post-labor hospital memories all involve little sleep and lots of love.
The most difficult times I've had at hospitals have been visiting loved ones and watching them suffer. Almost two decades ago, my father had triple bypass surgery; I can still remember watching him in agony after a simple cough strained his stitches and hammered the ribs they had to break in order to get to his heart. A week or so after my twins were born, they had to be readmitted to the hospital due to high bilirubin levels. Even though I knew the newborn jaundice would go away after a short stay under those incubator lights, I was an emotional wreck having to leave them there. And last year, I had to take 3Po to the emergency room after CleanBoy slammed a door on his pinkie finger and broke it. He was a very sleepy, sad and scared little boy and even though the injury wasn't serious, it was still difficult to watch him and not be able to do much to help him.
As far as hospital memories are concerned, I've been very lucky. And I hope it stays that way.
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