Generally Inhospitable

My husband and I have just spent a good portion of Sunday in Neurology Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at a local hospital; by no means as much as many family members might. I can say even more than ever that I hate hospitals. I hate those places. I hate the way death hovers over hospitals. I hate it when I walk by rooms where patients have no one visiting (I know, maybe they went to the bathroom or to get something to eat). I love the healing and the miracles that abound from hospitals, but I hate the sadness, the sickness, the loneliness, the death.

I’ve spent a few days in a hospital bed, and I detested every minute of it, I wanted to heal so fast that I would be out faster that you could blink an eye. I mean, what strange place: you’re meant to heal in there and you’re supposed to rest, but in-between resident physicians making rounds and lab techs poking your arm for another sample, rest is anything but what you get. Oh, and then there was the time I was in the hospital and they were remodeling the floor below and for 8-hours a day I got to listen to the sound of drilling below. Yes, hospitals are good places and staff do what they can, but I just don’t like the nature of the beast. Some hospitals I have visited seem to have the unsettled souls of the disoriented dead hovering over them. That is what best describes the one I was in today. Dark, heavy, ghoulish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking death, it has its place and we’ve all got to face it, I just don’t like that feeling that pervades places where it often occurs.

The halls of NICU seem to abound with red, weepy eyes, lots of hugging; vacant stares. That’s if you look at people, because after being there a while, you meld into the crowd of loved ones avoiding eye contact as much as possible. People walk past each other without bumping into one another all the while avoiding looking at the face of the oncoming person. NICU staff members, in between the light social workplace banter, are subdued as they read the faces of every loved one passing by for signs of breakdown.

My husband’s mother is gone. I don’t think she’s one of those lost souls hanging around the hospital tonight: she found who she was looking for.

Out in NICU reception a group gathered for a patient, sometimes breaking out in a mournful song in their native Samoan language; it was such a lovely sound, and in stark contrast to the beeping of respirators and hushed voices in the patients’ rooms. Not meant for my ears, not for my entertainment; I walked by barely registering notice.

Tonight a glass of Warre’s Tawny Porto will do. Who can sleep after a day like this?

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