Lessons in a Children’s Hospital

We’ve all had moments when life changes in an instant. Last week my daughter had surgery at a wonderful children’s hospital in Atlanta. For any parent, your emotions are heightened when your child is in pain but spending a night in ICU with my daughter gave me a fresh perspective.

Honestly, I was very anxious (and sad) to see my child hooked up to machines that beeped, hummed and moved. My only concern was for her to be OK and to not be in pain. Maybe it’s the artist in me, but I am very sensitive to the environment I am in. Not just the physical space but the people in the space, their energy and emotions. In any hospital, the ICU is a very serious place but a children’s ICU is charged with very intense emotions for the precious lives that are contained in that unit. I was very focused on my own child and her immediate needs but couldn’t help but notice the love and emotions of the parents around me. I watched as parents held bedside vigils, cried, prayed, screamed and grasped the hands of family members in the waiting room. I hurt for them, prayed for them, cried at the intensity of their pleas but will never know many of them by name. We only stayed one night in ICU and then moved to a regular room on the main hospital floor. I was so glad my daughter was progressing enough to be leaving ICU but felt a bit guilty as we passed by the parents still waiting for their child’s turn to leave. A few days later I was in Target getting my daughter’s prescriptions. I was browsing while waiting and suddenly thought “I’m in Target. Those parents are still in ICU fighting for their child’s life and my child is home and I’m in Target”. It all seemed surreal. My daughter even said, “It makes all the things we worry about seem so little”.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the dedicated doctors, nurses and staff at CHOA (some I never met but they cared for my child during surgery), Michael the comforting day surgery receptionist, the anesthesia team and the world’s BEST ICU nurse–Joanna!

This video was sent to me by an art blog I follow. It’s an “artsy” representation of our lives in jelly beans (of all things) and has high impact if you are a visual learner like me. I viewed it before my daughter’s surgery and remember thinking–we only spend 564 days of our lives caring for the needs of the people we love?? That seems so little! The video is short but powerful and will change how you think about your time. Our stay in ICU reminds me that life and time are precious. Love today, it can change in an instant.

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