How was Thanksgiving? The drive to Indianapolis that morning was a gorgeous sun shining day. We loaded up our care packages and we were off! It was like the first day of school when you have all the aspirations and dreams before the classes and homework set in... I hadn't thought about my homework or classes, I was just thinking about the first day of school.
When we pulled up to University Hospital, the butterflies of excitement changed. A well-known Ted talker said, the emotions of excitement and the emotions of anxiety are the exact same, it is all in how you decide to process those emotions. Both excitement and anxiety are arousal emotions. It basically comes down to how you tell your body to respond. This was different, I could tell I was feeling those arousal emotions of excitement and anxiety, but it wasn't one or the other, it was both. And they were coming in hot!
Immediately upon walking into the lobby a girl caught my eye. I began to feel as if I were walking in a pool with all my clothes on, everything was slow and heavy. This gal appeared to be about my age and I watched as her husband gently pushed her to the window so she could look outside. On her IV pole, she had various IV bags hanging and she had the infamous TPN with the Kangaroo pump. The Kangaroo is what stopped me dead in my tracks. It was the exact same pump I had at home, and like a wave crashing in, it ALL came rushing back to me.
We made our way to sixth floor, the Intensive Care Unit. Not only was I now walking in water with all of my clothes on, I was finding it more and more difficult to catch my breath. I was overwhelmed. We sat outside of ICU with the families, some were eating their Thanksgiving meal, putting on a good smile, a good face. Others were silently huddled around a table, with a vacant look, their mind was elsewhere. And others were holding back tears.
My husband gave me one of his storied pep talks and I pushed through. I went behind those large double doors to face what was on the other side. Again, I was engrossed with my surroundings, my ICU room was straight ahead and as much as I didn't want to, I couldn't look away. It was the sights and the smell...oh the smell.
As I pushed through, I went to the nurses station, explained what I wanted to do and she was more than agreeable. She noted that her patients were NPO but I could still drop off the care package.
From this moment on, I was overcome with the frailty of the patients... How was this possible? How was I once that sick? I continued on through the ICU, handing out the care packages to patients and families. This is when I really wish I had done my homework and had been emotionally prepared to talk with the patients and families, after all, that's why I was there.
We continued our way through the hospital to other units and rooms in which I had been a patient.
I had not studied for the test. I did not do my homework. I was not prepared for class.
What happened next was completely unexpected. I shut down. I was overcome with memories, with thoughts, with flashbacks, I. Shut. Down. I slept for days. It was depression napping at its finest. I am not ashamed, it's the truth. I never realized how sick I was. I still don't. Even going to IU Hospital with an open heart and a clear head, I still cannot believe I was a patient in those beds, in that room. How is this even possible? And how am I here today? I followed the encouragement of one fine surgeon, keep pushing through.
So, to answer my question, Thanksgiving was good. I am letting it strengthen me. I am letting it give me energy. I will go again and I will reach out to more patients and more families, this time, I will plan ahead for the classes and I will do my homework.