Before London, I never really liked being in a hospital for any reason. Even if I was there for a flu shot or to pick Kate up from work. I only saw hospitals through a narrow, ignorant lens. I thought they were places where sick people go to stay for a while and at the end of their stay those lucky enough to leave are still sick or don’t know why they are sick. Those without the luck, arrive at a hospital and stay there until their death. This is a morbid way to think about a place designed to get you better, but I had this view for a couple reasons.
When your spouse works in a hospital they tend to convey some sad stories to you about things they have seen at the hospital. The stories could be worse depending on what unit they work in. For example, stories from the outpatient wing probably aren’t going to be as horrific as some from oncology. Well, I used to hear some pretty sad stories and they were very difficult to hear. I did not hear enough of the good stories because I always found myself thinking, how could you work at a place like that? How depressing. So when I would go into a hospital I would maybe just choose to see the very sick and that made hospitals nearly impossible to be in.
And then I got very sick in 2007…The short story about that experience is this. I had a bunch of weird things happening to me, headaches, Bells Palsy, partial, but temporary hearing loss in one ear, and iritis were among the most troubling issues. I had a CT, an MRI, X-rays, blood draws of all sorts, and I spoke with a lot of doctors and specialists. I never received a diagnosis. I got better, but I could not attribute that to treatment I received at a hospital, except for the steroids for the Bells Palsy and later for the iritis. I probably had a virus of some sort that was working its way through my body. Doctors never knew when it would be over. They couldn’t tell me what it was. And all those tests…negative. I had a big scare and I felt like it was just dumb luck that I got better, when really my body finally overcame whatever serious bug was screwing everything up.
My opinion of hospitals changed very quickly in January. The morbid thoughts were, for the most part gone. Of course I worried for the health of my wife and daughter, but for the first time the hospital was no longer a place where you go to die. It was a place of healing, of miracles. It was where you went to live. Even the sight of the building became a comfort to me. This particular hospital is huge and easy to see from many parts of Denver and so, when I wasn’t at the hospital with London, I could often look to the horizon and see her home and know that she was surrounded by the most professional and loving staff I could have ever dreamed of. This was our family’s fortress now. Not all rooms in it have a happy story to tell. Hope is sometimes scarce in this place, but I knew of an OR tucked away on the fourth floor where not just lives were saved, but dreams, hopes, and a future were salvaged because of a hospital. I will never think of them the same way.