Reporting From A Hospital Bed
Wednesday - September 14, 2005
The images on television barely cracked into my consciousness at first. In fact, my recollections of the first couple of days of Hurricane Katrina’s violent incursion into the Gulf States are woozy and fragmented. It happened to occur during a time when I could not pay attention.
Some of you know I’ve donated a kidney to my father Harold, who’s been on dialysis for a while. I will not get into details. But I will say this: Modern medicine and its practitioners have my everlasting gratitude. They have allowed me to give my father a shot at a very different life, and it is nothing short of a miracle.
I want to tell you why I think it’s so important to talk about the need for organ donors. But that conversation will come at a later time. Right now I just want to say thank you to the people who made this possible.
Thanks to my surgeon Dr. Whitney Limm, and Dad’s, Dr. Alan Cheung, who led the two teams that worked their precision magic in side-by-side surgical suites on Tuesday a couple of weeks ago.
Thanks to the transplant program at St. Francis and the live donor coordinator Cathy Bailey. Many people don’t know that the process of live donation begins many months before the actual surgery. Bailey is a pro who knows her job inside and out, and who carefully and patiently led us through the many, many checks and procedures required for acceptance by both donor and recipient.
I’m very thankful to the staff at St. Francis. I remember you all and appreciate the care you lavish on your patients. I cannot mention all of your names, but I know you’ll forgive me for that.
A few stand out - for various reasons. They include Bradley - the needle guy. Ouch. I know, I know. Just doing your job. And you’re good at it. But still - ouch.
And Angie, the afternoon shift nurse. It was your face that greeted me when I woke up from a stupor. Your elegant and calm demeanor was just what the doctor ordered. You represent your hospital and your profession well. May you and your new husband live a long and happy life together.
In fact, I enjoyed all the people I came into contact with, even the aide who said, “Gee you look different on TV.” Uh, hello. Could having surgery, lying in a hospital bed, and not showering for a few days have a little something to do with that?
But thank you. Thank you all. In the hospital, you’re reminded that life has a rhythm of its own, and it is not in the artificial schedule of checks and pokes and proddings you get every hour or two. We know those are done to make sure you’re getting better. But when you lose your natural rhythm, your body and mind try hard to get it back. First you rest. Then you eat. When your mind is clear enough, you reflect. And finally you connect again with the ones you love.
And you are also reminded of how precious life is. The images of utter misery unfolding on television day after day during our recovery certainly drove that realization home even more acutely.
So when I saw my dad for the first time after our surgery it was ... well ... intense. Emotionally exhausting. But it was good. We were happy.
And when I returned to my hospital room, I turned off the TV with all its horrendous images - and slept. There would be time later to face the world again.
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