Why Some of My Favorite Memories Are From Hospital Stays
When I was at the Mayo Clinic for seven weeks last year, I went determined that I was going to meet an adorable guy who was also riddled with life-threatening illness, and he was going to be the silver lining to my travel-out-of-state-for-medical-care-because-I’m-literally-dying hospital stay.
But when I got to the Mayo Clinic, I felt like I was the only person under the age of 70 who was being treated there.
I felt like I was the only young adult in this faculty, possibly even in my side of the hemisphere, who was dealing with my type of health issues.
That was until, one day in the infusion waiting room, I met Rachael. She had a big brown eyes and an even bigger smile. She was two years younger than me, super spunky, loved dogs and was a fellow IV-dependent medical mystery.
From the moment we met, an instant friendship was formed.
We would schedule our IVs on the same day, ask to share a hospital room and just spend hours talking, laughing, walking the halls, taking selfies, playing cards, sharing sick kid “battle stories,” listening to music and playing with Play-Doh.
One day we even got our favorite nurse to do an “IV photo shoot” with us to help pass the time, as our IVs were a minimum of two to three hours long. Those pictures are still some of my favorite pictures in existence!
She was often my stress relief during one of the most stressful times of my life.
There is one day in particular I will never forget…
Rachael told me “there was this male nurse who was working that day who was super attractive, and she hoped he was going to be the one who put in her IV today, because he was hot enough to be on ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ And I just had to see him.”
For the first time in a long time, some “sick chick luck struck,” and Rachael got the hunky male nurse as the one to put in her IV. I was sitting on her bed already, 10 minutes into my IV.
And as he hooked her up, we both just stared and shamelessly flirted with this male nurse.
As he turned around to grab gloves, or grab an ultrasound machine, we would attempt to mouth out words to each other, trying to express how good-looking he was, without either of us getting caught by him.
After he left, we both burst out laughing and totally agreed he was hot enough to be on “Grey’s Anatomy” (which, to no surprise, was our shared favorite TV show).
We of course started talking about “Grey’s Anatomy,” and then, all of the sudden, Rachael got this mischievous look on her face, checked her phone calendar, and exclaimed, “Yes! I think Dr. Yang is working today!”
I looked at her confused, and she told me, “There is a nurse who works here every Wednesday who looks just like Christina Yang from ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ She is basically her twin. You have to see her for yourself!”
So we both grabbed our IV poles, went into the hall and began hunting the whole ambulatory infusion center for “Dr. Yang.”
The nurses kept on asking us what in the world we were doing, and Rachael would just smile and sweetly respond, “Oh, we are just getting our exercise for the day!”
Little did they know, we were two girls on a mission.
After 10 minutes of walking around and dragging our IV poles, we were about to turn the corner to go to the nurses’ station, and Rachael stopped, grabbed my arm and excitedly whispered to me, “Look! Look! I found her! I found Dr. Yang!” I peeked around the corner, and I just about died laughing.
I saw a woman who looked exactly like Christina Yang from “Grey’s Anatomy.” Same face, same facial expressions, same mannerisms, same everything!
So we sat there in the middle of the hall, trying (and failing) to silently laugh. We were literally laughing so hard, tears were coming out of our eyes and we had to hold on to our IV poles for support.
The nurses stared at us in entertained and confused wonder, like they were debating if we were just having a strangely good time in the hospital, or if the combination of dehydration and malnutrition had finally caught up to us.
We somehow managed to get ourselves back to our room. Then we collapsed on the bed…joyfully exhausted.
Afterwards, we both looked out the window of our fifth-floor room and stared in complete awe. Because right before us was one of the most gorgeous sunsets I had ever seen in my life.
As we were in a hospital room, hooked up to life-saving machines and physically felt like absolute garbage, we gazed at the sunset and talked about how much we loved sunsets. Because sunsets are a daily reminder that we are so lucky to be alive, and we were so lucky to get to continue to live, despite our bodies that continually kept trying to hurt us.
This may seem like a small and insignificant memory, but that was honestly one of my favorite days of my life!
Some people might think it’s impossible to feel joy in a place that’s full of so much pain. But I’ve honestly met some of the happiest people and made some of my favorite memories while I’ve been trapped in a place I truly didn’t want to be, and fighting for a life I wasn’t quite sure I’d have.
I think when you’re in that situation, when you’re so sick it seems as though hospitals and doctors’ offices are your second home, when your life feels full of more bad news than good…it makes you 13 times more grateful for every good moment you get. Because you truly will never realize how many gifts life gives you on a daily basis until life shows you it can take those gifts away.
Until next time. Stay strong. Appreciate every day, and always smile on!
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Thinkstock photo via Siri Stafford.