Looking from Another Window

Kinderafdeling, Sint Antonius Ziekenhuis, Nieuwegein

Here I am, early in the morning, sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the middle of a big hospital sleeping room for 5 people. The beds are almost full, 4 children were admitted today to have their surgeries. Two were very young, like my daughter’s age – around 6 or 7. The other two are rather big, almost teenagers.

I don’t know what was in my mind, because somehow I really thought that I would have a comfortable setting to sit here, down with my book or laptop, laying leisurely in the big and nice hospital bed, and for a while take a rest after a week full of flu-fighting spirits. Right. You thought I’m crazy. Who goes to hospital to enjoy themselves? But really, that is exactly what I had in mind, before realizing that I must sit on this awkward chair waiting.

First, I didn’t realize that the room will be a shared room with so many people and so non existent privacy. Second, related to the room, I was hoping that there would be some sort of sofa or a nice armchair where I can sit leisurely. But perhaps I did relate too much to my own (long) experiences as a patient. I hardly think about the perspective of those who had to wait for my surgery and sit there accompanying me in my room afterward.

Pushing the bed of my daughter into the lift, through the small alley and entering the pre-operation room, meeting the nurses and doctors there with their “pajamas”, answering their questions on behalf of my daughter, and finally going to the surgery room – walking, all these things I did while not in the bed laying, it surely felt different and surreal.

The hope, the desperation, the fear and the tears I had to hold, as someone who has had too many of them and also as someone who feels a bit of the pain and fears that my daughter is holding… I had to take one of my pills to make sure that I’m not going to have a panic attack.

Now the surgery is done, I went to the recovery room. Back to the same room with the soft bip bip sounds, again this time I was not the one who lays in the bed with hopeless sleepy feeling. But instead I had to see my precious daughter sleeping so sound, with a little bit of blood, faint traces of the surgery.

And all the pain she had to endure when the painkiller started to fade away, I had to be there also to comfort her and hopelessly try to ease her pain – how? How do you actually take pain away from someone else?

I think being sick and watching someone else sick share the same feeling, though maybe not really the same. The feelings of hopelessness, of the big unanswered question when will this be over, when the time doesn’t run fast enough, or it passes so fast but still we feel so much pain.

In everything, these things are beyond our controls, even when the surgery went well. The pain and the anxiety are not something that we can take away in the matter of seconds, even when we take the pills to lower them down.

And for such things, I could only pray, asking for God’s mercy to ease her pain, to ease my frightened heart. At that moment I could only constantly beg for His helping arms, to sustain me to be able to stand there for my daughter, because no one else could (only one parent was allowed to enter the hospital due to coronavirus).

It feels the same, yet different. All those nights laying down in my hospital beds – since I was so young, helpless and full of thoughts when will this pain go away… so many times, so much waiting, it happened again today, though I was sitting, though I was walking, beside my daughter this time.

I guess this time I could understand more what it felt to be my mother, or now my husband. As people who had to be with me going through my treatments, my check ups, my hospital stays. Sitting on the hard chairs, waiting for the dawn to come, and hoping that the pain will shade away and we all could come home again.

And the same yearning, that God will extend His hands to help, that God will bow down to hear our silent cries… it’s all the same, but different this time.

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