Monday, February 23, 2009

Grandpa’s in the Hospital

Last week, Grandpa fell. He hit his head. He’s 94 years old. An ambulance rushed to the Renaissance Marquis, where the two of them have lived for a year, scooped him up and whisked him back to Floyd Medical Center. Things progressed from there as I am sure they do in most families; relatives called other relatives, retold news, shared all the current information and frustration at all the unanswerable questions. Schedules were rearranged, plans were made, and family members started to trickle into town.

Hospitals operate in a different time zone. In a room like Grandpa’s, where no one’s life is in imminent danger, where what we are all doing is really just waiting for him to wake up, time moves in fits and spurts. The time between nurses arriving for blood pressure checks can seem like moments, while the empty space between one breath he takes and the next can seem like an eternity. Hospital vigils are one of the few instances where just sitting, unproductive for hours, is not only acceptable, it is expected. Nursing shifts rotate, visitors roam the halls, the rectangle of sky visible from the window changes from gray to black to the washed-out yellow of dawn. Outside the door there is activity; inside the room there is only the labored breathing of an old man and the steady hum of his assorted machines.

If you have spent the night sitting with someone in the hospital—hovering over them, squirming in the reclining chair and trying not to let your thoughts wander towards your own inevitable end—then you understand that feeling of walking out of the double doors in the morning. This is more true if you’ve been the one needing care. No mornings are so bright, so clean, so welcoming as that morning when you leave the stale, medical air of the building. This is another effect of hospital time; it feels like the rest of the world paused while you were in that room, and as soon as the sliding glass doors open to the parking lot, it is as if someone pushed a button to start it all going again. The dark night passes; life resumes.

I hope Grandpa gets another chance to have that morning.

1 comment:

  1. Please keep us updated on this...I hope he wakes up soon! After reading this when you posted it, he was in one of my dreams...