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5 Reasons I'm Super Excited to Spend the Holidays in the Hospital

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My son, Branko, can accurately be described as medically fragile. The rap sheet for all the scary stuff that’s happened to his body is beginning to sound fictitious: multiple fractured femurs, pneumonia, lung failure, rodding surgeries and more. My husband and I have spent an extraordinary amount of time in the hospital with him. While most people would rather experience a rapid succession of mouth-burn induced from piping hot pizza than a night in a children’s hospital, it’s become our reality, one that we can’t change any time soon.

Branko’s next surgery is conveniently scheduled for the middle of December. He will have brand-spanking-new rods put in his lower leg bones and left thigh bone. Before you feel sorry for us and get all oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-imagine-the-horror-can-I mail-you-a-gift-immediately, please understand that any holiday, especially the big kahunas like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, are the most perfect times to be stuck in the hospital. Even though it was difficult to narrow down my list of the hundreds of things that are just super awesome about staying in the hospital during the holidays, I was successful in culling my top five for you:

1. Parking becomes slightly less awful.

I usually cringe with horror when I enter the parking garage of our hospital, which is located in the heart of a major metropolitan city. You see, the parking rates are actually pretty great compared to the 3 million dollars per day charged at most of the other lots. This means that our parking garage, which is supposed to be reserved for patients, is always full. Always. It’s a nightmare. Even with an accessible parking pass — aka the best thing to happen to my stress levels in five years  we rarely find a spot.

But something magical and downright spirit o’ Christmas-y happens to our downtown core toward the end of December: people disappear! This is the only time of year when I don’t have to circle the garage like a vulture, slowly and awkwardly following pedestrians to their vehicles. I especially appreciate not having to stifle my urge to yell, “Could you go any slower?” at snail-paced stroller folding.

2. Celebrity sightings!

I live in Canada, so my chance of a celebrity siting is much lower than yours, America. But, if you play your cards right/have a medically complex baby, Canadians can meet celebrities, too. Everyone knows how famous people love to be seen with all the sick children of the world. Two years ago, after my son had a cardiac arrest, my family got to meet Rob Ford, the infamous crack-smoking former mayor of Toronto, in our hospital lobby. While meeting Rob Ford didn’t quite alleviate all the pain, fear, anxiety and splashes of PTSD that went along with almost losing my son, it was still so exciting. I never meet anyone famous!

3. Saying “no thank you” to New Year’s Eve shenanigans.

By far, the best byproduct of having a sick child is saying “nothing” when people ask what I’m doing for New Year’s Eve. It’s preferable to just sit in a stuffy hospital room consuming KFC and chardonnay instead of seeing my closest friends. I look forward to sleeping on a vinyl cot/torture device while my friends are out dancing and laughing and having a pretty great time.

I will especially appreciate the nurse’s sad Tommy-Lee-Jones-eyes after she informs me the hospital won’t allow two cots in the room, meaning husband and I will be forced to spend our first New Year’s apart in 10 years. And while I sit alone, covered in chicken grease and cursing myself for running out of chardonnay, I will definitely remember to tell myself over and over: at least I’m not out in the cold waiting for a cab! And the more I say it, the more I might even believe it.

4. The ultimate excuse to avoid every annoying thing about the holidays.

Being stuck in the hospital caring for a sick child absolves parents of all responsibility with the outside world. Finally, I can confidently say “no thank you” to lavish holiday parties, warm hugs from family and friends and especially buying nice things for the people I love. Blech! Gross.

5. No line at the hospital cafeteria.

This is anyone’s dream come true. Since there are usually fewer people around during the holidays, there’s rarely a line. Instead of waiting 10 minutes to pay for my fifth bag of Doritos that day, I might wait only seven or eight. In addition to reduced line-ups, I will especially appreciate the random holiday hours. Even though I have no comprehension of why they need to close at 4 p.m. on December 23 and then 3 p.m. on December 24, I like the added challenge of having to race downstairs before the doors lock. (It’s called cardio, people.)

I feel like I need to apologize. Here I go again, bragging about all the wonderful perks and special treatment us hospital parents get during the month of December. I should really stop trying to make everyone jealous of this glamorous life I lead. I would never want to be one of “those” moms.

Forgive me?

Follow this journey on Branko Has Funny Bones.

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Originally published: December 3, 2015
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