Sunday Scribblings: Hospital Memories

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.

For more on hospitals, click here.


Robin said...

Yes, it sounds like you have been lucky. I too hope it stays that way for you.

deedee said...

My dad wasn't a doctor, but I too remember sitting in the car while he ran back into his office for some papershe needed.

Jen B said...

I'm glad your stories have happy endings. I know the jaundice feeling, had that with my eldest. Back then I could stay with him. I was nursing and in there for 9 days. I don't know what I would have done if I had to leave him there without me. That must have been so trying. No broken bones over here, ouch!

Anonymous said...

20 plus cousins? Wow things must have been fun at your house.
Reading about that broken pinky made me want to cry :(
Sending good vibes.
Hope you and the kids enjoy Hollerween,

Liza on Maui said...

I am glad you have good memories of hospitals. I also hope it stays that way for you :)

Anonymous said...

That is another aspect of hospital! Thanks for showing that. I need it!

sister AE said...

I loved the plastic models of organs. My dad, too, had a heart model and a kidney. I think there was a uterus we didn't get to play with until we were old enough we didn't want to. But I loved the model of a hand he had, where the plastic bones came out all together - perfect to think about this Halloween week.

Tumblewords: said...

Lucky is a good way to stay!! I enjoyed reading your post -