I’m sitting here in a blandly furnished, freezing room watching my mother sleep in her hospital bed. Nurses, doctors and trainees keep bursting in every 15 minutes to fiddle with cords, take notes and speak in riddles so we actually have no idea what’s going on or who is running this show. The constant noise of beeping, machinery, phone calls and trolleys wheeling by in the hallway means no rest for anybody. How is one meant to recover here? Sleep is a powerful restorative tool yet my mother is being denied this essential part of life. I’m frustrated and maybe just a little scared.
When a loved one is taken to hospital for whatever reason, every stupid little thing you were worrying about ceases to exist. That person who you thought you offended? Who cares. What are you going to eat for dinner? Toast and baked beans will do. What am I going to do tomorrow? Let’s just make it through today. Survival, comfort and care kicks in and you drop everything to make sure this person is ok, and that they know you’re there for them. As I packed her bag last night with essentials and favourite items, I realised how useless these things were. After all in a hospital you’d expect to have access to everything you need to survive. But there’s a lot more to life than simply being able to breathe. That book she was reading, her favourite pyjamas, her toothbrush… these everyday objects become sources of comfort in times of need. Anything that reminds us of home must play some role in the healing process, in my opinion anyway.
As I sit here wrapped in a blanket, watching my mother sleep I’m suddenly aware of the fragility of life. When your body is hooked up to needles and machines, it really hits home that we aren’t here for long and we’re certainly not made of steel. Everything about this place is foreign to me. The sharp smell of sanitisation is an assault on the senses, the bright lights make you feel crazy and the hushed whispers only increase the displacement. I want her to come home.
Of course, I am grateful for the caring staff. It takes strong minded people to work in this environment, where worried family members and constant double checking must be the norm. I just want everything to be ok and I am sick of waiting, but I need to remember – this isn’t about what I want or need. This is about my mother. And so I will sit here, all day and all night if I must. Because family is all we have at the end of the day, and for that my love has no limits.
Photo credits – rsa_vsco & rsa_mextures