Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lessons Learned in a Hospital Waiting Room

I am a lessons learned kind of girl ... it has become a bit of a joke at my house because the phrase, "What can we learn from this?" follows almost every positive and negative event.

A couple of months ago, my 14-year old took a pretty serious spill on a 4-wheeler while visiting family in Idaho.  She was there with her older sister for a few days before heading to a church camp.  Generally, I'm not much of a "what if" or "crazy worrying" kind of parent.  Stuff happens with kids all the time .. falling and splitting a head open .. breaking an arm .. concussion .. crazy reaction to a bug bite.  All of which have happened at the homes of some of our favorite people.  I would rather have kids who jump in and are not afraid to try new things.

However, this one was a little different.  This one got under my skin a bit.  There were specific decisions made by adults that involved my Annie ... and she got really hurt.  Two months later, she is in surgery and the fun continues.  We have been required to tell the story to multiple medical professionals and each time they start with ...
How did this happen?
Was she wearing a helmet?
How fast was she going? 

Each time we answered the questions .. this little angry bug under my skin would bite a little bit harder.  I even got defensive and felt compelled to explain that we weren't there and would not have allowed her to ride without a helmet.

We had a "lessons learned" chat after this happened .. but it mainly focused on toys like jet skis, 4-wheelers, snowmobiles and how to safely enjoy them.  We talked about helmets, controlling your speed, how to properly take a corner, etc.

Her leg got infected and formed a large hematoma .. hence the surgery this week.  Living in Dallas comes with perks, like having two of the "Top 10 Children's Hospitals" in the country.  As we waited to check in, I started looking around the waiting room, which was full of children a lot younger than mine.  You could tell me looking at them .. this was not their first trip to a hospital.  I don't consider it a good sign when the nurse checking people in recognizes you and calls you by name.

After they took her back to the operating room, we moved to a larger waiting room.  I watched doctors come and take families back to conference rooms because the news they had to deliver was not appropriate in a fishbowl.  We watched families fall apart because something had gone wrong during the surgery.  The longer we sat there ... frankly, the dumber I felt.

We have never had a real health challenge with any of our girls.
I've never heard the words - leukemia or cancer or tumor.
They have never missed a year of school because of visits to specialists or hospitals.
I have never known that sheer panic that comes when a doctor walks into the room with that look.
We have known the pain that comes from losing a child.
We have been incredibly blessed.

Sometimes, the lesson learned comes a little while after the big event.
In a hospital waiting room, I learned perhaps the most valuable lesson of all ..
and I will be grateful.  I will be grateful that all it took was a surgeon and thirty minutes to put her back together.  I will be grateful for the health of my family.  I will be grateful for these little moments that remind me to let go of the things that bring negativity and focus on the beauty in my life.


G and G Rawe said...

Heidi, you have a special way of putting everything in perspective. Thanks for your words of wisdom and the gentle reminder for each of us to be grateful each and every day!!