I’ve written about the nurses and support staff who made the ICU just amazing. The people who go above and beyond in their jobs, the people who are willing to go the extra mile to buy a coffee for a patient’s wife who’s crying in the corridor, who are willing to sit and talk to you even though your spouse isn’t their patient that night.
I went back to VGH today for the first time in almost 7 months. I made plans to go back to see one of the nurses, have coffee with her, catch up and just connect.
I drove the same car I had driven every day.
I drove the same route.
I parked almost in the same spot.
I went in the same door I always did.
I took the elevator up to the 2nd floor.
I walked down the hall to the access door and picked up the phone and asked to speak to her.
She offered me the opportunity to come in and have a look around… I thought about it for a minute – and declined. Not because it would have been hard, but because there was no reason to infringe on anyone else’s privacy or be there in general. It was enough to be in that hallway I’d spent so many hours in.
We went for coffee… she cried. I don’t cry in front of other people very often, but I was emotional. Being in the hospital was ok. It hurt, but not so much that I couldn’t handle it.
I had no panic attacks on the drive there, while I was in there, or after I left there.
When we got to Children’s Hospital, however, I started to get emotional. My chest tightened, my throat closed up and I had tears threatening.
I don’t cry in front of others, though. I still haven’t cried since. I came close in Michaels – but I think that it will hit me when kids are in bed and I’m alone and have the freedom to cry as hard or as soft as I need to.
I wanted to go back to VGH on my terms. I didn’t want to have something forced on me by circumstance and not have the tools to deal with the emotions from Mark’s stay there because I’d never been there before. I wanted to have dealt with that on my terms, in my way, by choice.
I’m glad I went back there – it was time. I’m really sorry I missed the other nurses and the support staff I had wanted to see – but there’ll be another time. Going back was the right thing to do. After avoiding that area of Vancouver like the plague, going back there and putting myself into that head space was an important healing tool.
There will be tears tonight. I’ll make sure they happen. I’ll make sure that emotion balled up in my chest and throat are allowed to release and flow through me.
One thing that has helped me enormously through the whole process is to change my perspective on things….
VGH isn’t only where my husband died, it’s where I was given an additional 5 months with him. It’s where I got to spend a beautiful, loving, peaceful, intimate night with him saying everything that was needed before we turned off the machines in the morning. It was a place I learned to appreciate with an amazing intensity the work that nurses do. It is a place where I got to watch miracles happen – and where I got to witness tragedies. It is where I found people who surrounded me with love and support me and where I made new friends and although most of them were not there with me physically – they were there with me emotionally, spiritually and virtually. It is where I learned how strong I really am. It is where I learned what is important and how to let go of those things that are not.
VGH is a place where my life changed… and it is where I changed.