As I am sitting here in the hospital room, lost in my thoughts, both of my grandparents are exhausted and are taking an afternoon nap. Nurses are popping their heads in every half hour to make sure my Grammo is on the fast track to recovery after her knee replacement surgery a few days ago. Each of them seem so genuinely worried and kind, in hopes of keeping her spirits high during what is often a difficult and frustrating time for patients. Watching the way they look after her, I caught myself smiling at their concentrated attentiveness and admirable compassion towards this complete stranger. Shortly after that enlightening observation, I can’t help but think, why are hospitals so often seen as such a depressing place?
I can practically hear you guys whispering to yourselves, “because people die there!” and of course, you are not wrong. Everyday there are those who lose their battles to whichever disease they were unfortunately dealt by the cards of life.
I, too, am one of those people who used to see the hospital as a depressing environment. As if the sight of those fluorescent white hallways that reek with the nostril searing combination of Clorox and urine isn’t enough in itself to make you feel ill, you are surrounded by people who are fighting for their lives. Nothing will ever put things in perspective quite like witnessing someone struggle to breathe on their own, something so simple, yet obviously necessary, that we all take for granted daily.
When I was in the fourth grade, my Grandma Elva was taken from us after an aggressive strain of Stage 4 Stomach Cancer spread throughout her body like wildfire. I vividly remember laying in bed, cuddled up with my Mom one night, both of us were crying and my wide-eyed innocence was painfully evident when I asked, “Mommy, is Grandma going to die?” Oblivious to what the word cancer actually meant, my 9-year-old self was probably equating it to having a cold or a bad fever. It was exactly six weeks from the initial diagnosis to her devastating decease.
That was in November of 2001.
In October of 2014, my Grammo was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer. Upon receiving this news from my Dad, I had a flashback to thirteen years ago and instinctively thought, “Oh no, not again…” Luckily enough, the doctors were able to catch her cancer very early on. She underwent a Lumpectomy, to remove the cancerous cells from her body and endured a month-long treatment of radiation in hopes of one day becoming cancer free.
In August of 2015, at her six month check up post radiation, the doctors were able to tell us the words we had all been waiting to hear, “Mrs. Vasquez, you are one hundred percent Cancer free!”
I think that was the moment that changed my perspective on what really goes on within these hospital walls. Every single doctor has dedicated anywhere from 11 to 16 years of their life towards educating themselves in the world of medicine, all for someone else’s benefit. They have voluntarily set their own personal lives on the back burner in hopes of helping save the lives of countless strangers throughout their career. The things that they are capable of doing and overcoming in the medical field with modern-day technology paired with their brilliant minds, is nothing short of a miracle.
These miracles happen every single day and a lot of the time, they take place in the operating room. Each and every person you see running around in scrubs and white coats all day long, are a crucial piece in this immense jigsaw puzzle that cohesively creates the hospital. In order for any of their jobs to be successful and make sense, the other people have to be right there beside them, vigorously working away as well. At the end of the day they all have a common goal, to save as many lives in the most efficient way as possible.
It is all too easy to take our clean bill of health for granted and it usually takes something hitting us close to home to remind us that nothing is ever guaranteed. After losing one grandma to Cancer and having a major Cancer scare with the other, I have never appreciated doctors and nurses more for everything that they do for their patients.
I strongly believe that we all have our time to go and when that time comes, there is nothing we can do to avoid it. I know that while death is inevitable in this very hospital in which I am sitting, there are doctors out there right now who are on the brink of medical revolutions. That comforting thought alone makes hospitals a little less depressing and a lot more inspiring.
It is so important to understand that for every family receiving a heartbreaking ending to their story like my Grandma Elvas, there is a doctor somewhere else extending the years on someone’s life, like my Grammos. For every patient who flatlines in the operating room, there is a newborn who was just delivered, taking in their first breaths of life. For every person who unexpectedly passes away in their sleep, there is someone who arose out of a coma, shocking everyone and against all odds.
Remember, not all super heroes wear capes, some opt for scrub caps and white coats. To those dedicated people, I would like to say- thank you.
“It’s a beautiful day to save lives!”
All My Love,