Over the past fourteen months, I’ve walked hundreds of miles in hospital hallways. There is no end to the maze of fluorescent-lit hallways joining different departments and even different buildings. They pull together lobbies and patients’ rooms and doctor’s offices and physical therapy areas. Several weeks ago, after dropping my son off at the pain clinic, I did some indoor walking since the weather was nasty outside.
As I walked from the outpatient area into the actual hospital area, memories started flooding back. I started by the front lobby.
Ah, I remember this hallway, which is also a ramp to join two different floors. More dependable than elevators that can break down. I saw an orderly pushing a bed with a patient uphill more than once here.
Turn left to go toward the Hauenstein Center, where the Intensive Care Unit is.
There’s the odd little vending machine area I would always walk past. Their selection of junk food seems an odd thing to be selling in a hospital.
The floor slopes downhill past the vending machine nook.
I take the elevator up to the second floor. When I get off, I can see the “quiet room” with its frosted windows that patients’ families can use when they need somewhere quiet to pull themselves together.
Just around the corner is Intensive Care, where Ben’s room was for sixteen days, before going to another part of the hospital for a month. Just go right, past the unit secretary, left to the end of the hall. Ben’s room was the last one, right by the conference room the doctors went into every morning after examining their patients. His room was large, large enough that the plastic surgeon was in there the first night, working on putting his face back together. It looked like a surgery room the first time we were allowed to peek in. My heart is pounding by this time, and I stop myself. Why am I here?
I say a prayer of thankfulness that my son is still alive, get back in the elevator, and meander back through the hallways to the pain clinic.