Six white chairs

I was looking for punishment, but I accepted a doctor’s appointment for Carson at Olgahospital for 8:00 am. I know better than to do that, but I actually did want it out of the way as I knew we had fun afternoon activities planned and wanted to get back home to accomplish some schoolwork before we packed away school for the weekend.

We left in time to get to the hospital without tempting fate. If you live in Stuttgart you know that simply means that I left in time to not have to risk speeding which would likely end in me having my picture taken by a roadside camera… this photo would then be mailed to me and it’d have a fee attached.  Speeding cameras abound in Stuttgart.

We made it without any flashes and only a little traffic.

I have been to this hospital for so many visits in our short time here in Germany that I noticed the difference in the parking garage… it was nearly empty, another bonus to having an oh-dark-thirty appointment. Oh, wait. If you live in Stuttgart you probably caught that error… it is not dark at 8:00 am… it fact, during the summer here it’s fully light by 6:00 – sunrise is around 5:20 am.

Carson and I parked and went in to the first sign-in desk which is behind the pirate ship playground. How COOL is this hospital?

pirate at olga

At this point I was just happy to have gotten to the hospital before our assigned appointment and no deep thoughts had crossed my mind as of yet, but standing in the line at the next desk (near the ER, which is also where cast changes are done and orthopedics is located) they came.

I stood on the red line affording the patient in front of me absolute privacy. I looked to my right and saw the darkened hallway with six white, plastic chairs on one side. In a wave, all sorts of memories flooded my mind.

No memories of the first time we visited Olga, though. That was when Anna’s arm popped out of socket… I don’t think I wrote about that on the blog because, while it felt a bit traumatic at the time, her arm popped back into place on its own on the way to the hospital. Her screaming ceased on its own and the doctor told me that it may happen again, or maybe not. We were home an hour after we left with high hopes that we’d have that kind of experience for any and all future visits, should they be a requirement. Little did I know we’d be spending many hours in this hospital…

Our second visit to Olga was for Bailey’s break. During our five hours of waiting to be seen, I charged my phone on an outlet across from the white chairs. While there we witnessed a multitude of heartbreaking circumstances. A lethargic baby, a baby with a broken leg, a baby with a busted ear crying non stop and in severe pain, a teen with cerebral palsy who was sick but unable to understand what was going on, and we saw the EMTs come, delivering a variety of patients. I could see them all in my memory and remember the frustration of waiting with Bailey late into the night. I had his dinner with us but they wouldn’t let him eat… he was starving! I had been preparing it when he broke his arm.

Standing there Friday and looking at that hallway that was quiet and still at the moment, I also recalled the night Carson broke his leg. We spent more time in a triage room than in the hallway but I do remember very vividly another lethargic baby, and a person with a virus who lost his lunch under the first white chair. I remember seeing the hallway lined with people watching us as the nurses took Carson back to get x-rays twice… both tibia and fibula broken, in excruciating pain. I remembered a set of parents who were both crying, the mom more-so than the dad. They looked to be in their late 40s so I can only imagine their child was a teenager… I figured girl. No idea why I assume their child was a girl, I saw them ask questions of the nurses and, at one point, they went up an elevator behind a set of glass doors. Now I know they were going up to surgery… I didn’t know that then.

Standing there Friday I remembered seeing Carson be transferred from the triage bed to an actual hospital bed and I remember turning to the nurse who had been by our side for a few hours at that point and begging her to go with me. (She was such a comfort to me during those hours.) She smiled and said she would go, even though she wasn’t a nurse yet but was doing a type of internship. She said she’d have to get a ‘real’ nurse to go along with us since she didn’t have the authority to transport patients just yet. I was fine with that… as long as she went, too.

I remember standing by those white chairs waiting for the ‘real’ nurse to come and then her taking us through those glass doors just past the white chairs. It hit me at that point that the couple from earlier must have been going to check on their daughter(?) who was most likely in surgery. My heart broke for them and I prayed that their child was fine.

Friday, standing on that red line, I had all of those memories flash through my mind in less than a minute, and then it was my turn to sign in. The vast number of memories and the weight with which they hit me took me by surprise. I was happy to be at the hospital for the kind of appointment we had: follow-up and to schedule surgery (to remove his screws). We were not there for any current trauma. I was happy, and yet, overwhelmed at all the hours we’ve spent in that one hallway and all the experiences we’ve had in it… None of what I’ve written about in this post details the other rooms we’ve grown to know: the actual waiting room, the triage rooms, the x-ray hallway/room*, the cast-replacement/set-the-bone-for-you rooms, the operating room, or Carson’s two rooms he stayed in for four days after surgery. (I didn’t even think about the fact that I’ve since had surgery there, myself.)

It seems like another world, the hospital. A sad and yet familiar one, a place where hope to see less of going forward. We are very grateful for the good care our children have received there and have few complaints (see asterisk at the bottom of the post for one minor complaint). Our lives are not only full of goodness and happiness but there are great losses and trials, struggles and difficulties. Carson’s broken leg is the most severe physical trauma any of us has experienced (let’s leave child-birth off the table) and yet in it I can see good. The experience has tried all of us and stretched us. It’s still keeping my prayer life in check as I am ready to see him walk without a limp (without screws for that matter).

I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could come up with some very spiritual conclusion but all I really wanted to do was jot down all the many thoughts I had flood through my mind in a thirty-second window of time, memories that just touch on the experiences we’ve had in a small side-hallway of a hospital halfway around the world from our family… Memories that are sacred to me because I was living them and feeling them deep in my bones as a mother. Just wanted to journal these thoughts.


*Note to future hospital planners: when your patients come in with broken bones, it’s a good idea to have the x-ray location close-ish to the ER/orthopedics/cast-changeing-room. Pushing a teen with a broken tib/fib back and forth through the hospital is no fun… and those smooth floors aren’t as smooth as they look – just ask Carson… he’ll confirm.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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1 Response to Six white chairs

  1. Pingback: A Teacher’s Summer | thehamricks

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