Friday, June 24, 2011

Dear Stacey

When I was in the hospital for the month of April, I had begun my pilgrimage in the ER at 2 AM. And being triaged, IVed, shot up with narcotics, retelling my history to every doctor and nurse, putting in my NG tube, I was finally taken up to the inpatient floor by the next afternoon. I was dopey from the drugs, in pain and exhausted, but I felt a sense of relief in finally being in a hospital bed. My nurse introduced me to my roomie-to-be, earlier posts have called her Stacey so we’ll stick with that. She smiled at me, introducing her husband who sat beside her, and asked me the preliminary questions - how old I was, where I went to school, and how I was feeling. Stacey and her husband showed immediate interest and that seemed to be that as I drifted off into a drug induced slumber.

Each day, Stacey and I would talk through the patterned curtain that divided us, her husband would tell me jokes and funny stories. At night, Stacey would turn her TV to the channel that had calm music and a moving picture of the stars. It became a tradition, the two of us watching the stars grow and shrink as we whispered about our lives, the things we had done and the dreams we had. Yes, it all sounds very slumber party or fairy tale-esque, but they were the little things that passed the time, the markers of the days gone by and the closer we were to being home. One morning, my nurse came in and told me I’d be switching rooms. I panicked a little - why did I have to move? She dropped her voice and said that Stacey had an infection and had to be isolated. I frowned. I understood but it wouldn’t the same in my new room next door. The next day I dragged my IV pole to see Stacey, blissfully ignoring the isolation procedure. We would send messages back and forth via nurses, and when she was being discharged, she got a nurse to ask me if she could have my email address.

And so, for the past two months, Stacey and I have sent daily emails to each other. We talk about just about everything and anything, and even though there’s at least a 40 year age gap, we help one another when it feels like no one else understands.

Therefore, this is a thank you. A thank you for everyone who opens their hearts and their lives to me, to other IBDers, to those who need support. Life is not a solo sport, and we need people cheering for us, especially those who are in the same race themselves. Being understood and supported and encouraged is empowering, it makes me feel so good about myself and my future. It’s like singing loudly (and really badly) in the car to my favorite songs, or miraculously finishing a half an hour jog, or even having that feeling of wanting to be no where else but where I am. It’s reassuring and reaffirming and makes me believe that I can really do anything.

They say things happen for a reason. I think that things happen, and then those of us who want to move on find reasons to make our experiences - however painful - worthwhile. My April hospital visit tested my sanity and as much as it was a challenging and painful experience, I met Stacey. It’s funny how two people can be thrown together in a room and become life long friends, I would never have known her otherwise and yet because of our shared hospital room, I will never forget her.

Never underestimate the power of saying hello. Never underestimate the power of a smile. Never underestimate the power of an email.

But most importantly, never underestimate the power of yourself.


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