The Hospital Visit | Teen Ink

The Hospital Visit MAG

October 22, 2008
By Catherine O'Donnell, Arlington Heights, IL

It was the day before Rosh Hashanah, but I wasn’t Jewish. I was heading into the hospital, but I wasn’t sick.

The lobby was like the starting gate at a racetrack: a line of wheelchairs filled with former patients, a group of healed people with their blinders on, chomping at the bit to go home. Many of them had balloons, teddy bears, and family members for their entourage. Lucky ducks.

My back pocket buzzed; I paused in a corner ­neatly arranged with cushioned chairs to take the call. It was Mom: “Honey, she’s not in the best shape right now. She may be asleep the entire time you’re there, but, you know, that’s okay.” After a few sighs and a good-bye, I managed to move my cinder block feet toward the elevator.

“Oh, he’s just doing so much better. It’s unbelievable! I mean, just yesterday he was practically comatose and now he’s up and walking,” a young woman with a colorful paisley scarf said into her cell phone as she exited the elevator. Lucky duck.

My fellow elevator riders were an older woman and two kids, presumably her grandchildren. The woman pressed the button for the third floor; I was going to the eleventh. I did the usual routine of ­gazing at anything but the other people in the ­elevator. Finding nothing terribly interesting about the certificate of inspection, I threw a quick glance toward the children. Their eyes glimmered with ­excitement. One hugged a teddy bear and the other grasped a construction paper card, complete with stick figures that, as children, we thought ­comparable to “Mona Lisa.” The elevator crept to a stop, the doors opened, and the kids bolted; the sign for the floor read “OB-GYN.”

“Let’s go see your baby sister.”

Lucky ducks.

The elevators opened with a ding on the eleventh floor. I walked to the nurses’ station and asked for ­directions to Room 1155, her room. 1151 … 1153 … 1155. I waited outside for a few seconds, becoming my own coach for a pep talk.

“We have to be strong for her,” my dad had told me the last time we visited. “She’s going through a lot right now, so we have to keep smiles on our faces.”

With a quick exhale, I entered the room. The woman on the bed had white hair and wrinkles. Her eyes slowly noted my presence and then lazily drifted back to the ceiling. The whiteboard next to her read, “Smith, Evelyn.” She wasn’t my grandma.

I stepped to the other side of the curtain. The woman on the bed was sound asleep, her mouth agape, her head tilted to the side. The cancer treatments left a halo of curly hairs on the pillow. Her nails were manicured, but her hands were swollen. She was hooked up to a menagerie of machinery and had a growing collection of bracelets on her left arm. A picture of the Virgin Mary and a rosary sat on her bedside table. Her whiteboard read “O’Donnell, Adonai” with a lopsided smiley face underneath. She wasn’t my grandma.

My 5ƈ" grandma had the heart of a lion and the fight of a tiger. She would tell stories about Boobie and his sister Boobette, troublemakers in the same league as Dennis the Menace, who always managed to cook up mischief. My grandma would sit us in front of her vanity filled with bottles of perfume and makeup, and brush our hair with her silver-­handled brush, a makeover of sorts. She would run her manicured nails through our hair and ask my ­sisters and me who our boyfriends were. When we told her we didn’t have any, she would throw out a few names, her way of “giving” us boyfriends. Mine was Templeton.

A cough roused me from my daydream. She wheezed twice and then settled back into her ­slumber. I rubbed her swollen, latex-like forearm.

“You lucked out with your room, Grandma. You got the window seat.”

The only response was a low grumble from her respirator.

Dad said conversation usually helped her, so I kept the news coming: Major League Baseball, my classes and activities, the details of the homecoming festivities.

Leaving the hospital, I felt slightly reassured. While I had been there, she hadn’t taken a turn for the worse, she wasn’t put on more medication, she didn’t develop further symptoms. She slept. With each of her breaths, each beep of the heart monitor, I felt more certain that she would pull through and be back to her normal storytelling self in no time.

That Thursday, Grandma’s game of ping-pong ­between the hospital and her nursing home added a new destination: hospice.

It was the day after Yom Kippur, but I wasn’t ­Jewish. We were saying good-bye, but I could barely speak a word.



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This article has 72 comments.


on Jul. 19 2011 at 3:05 pm
KristinHopkins8 SILVER, Aspen, Colorado
7 articles 0 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die"

BEA OO TI FUL! omg i love the ending sooo much! so clever!

on Jun. 27 2011 at 11:40 pm
WishfulDoer GOLD, Portland, Oregon
14 articles 0 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
If ignorance is bliss, why is our country so complicated?

I was crying as I was reading this. I didn't lose my grandmother to cancer; well, actually, to tell you the truth no one told me how she died, except that the doctors decided to turn her heart monitor off. They weren't even in the room when she died. And either was I. I can relate to this article more than I'd care to admit. Thank you for sharing an experience I don't have the courage to share.

on Jun. 27 2011 at 10:08 am
not.that.girl BRONZE, Troy, Michigan
1 article 2 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thought never to heaven go.

beautifully written piece, i really liked it. I loved how you sort of tied it together with the similar lines at the begining and the end :) good job (: 

RRRRR BRONZE said...
on Jun. 5 2011 at 10:30 pm
RRRRR BRONZE, Orrville, Ohio
1 article 1 photo 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is when you don't."- Pete Seeger

"I didn't quit because I wasn't strong enough to live through it, i stopped because i was strong enough to move on." -Unknown

I can totally relate. I lost my grandma to breast cancer a few years back, i wish i had the courage to talk to her more when she went into Hospice, but she wasn't the same. I never said goodbye either. It felt to permanent. You did a great job, brought tears to my eyes.

on Jun. 5 2011 at 6:28 pm
R5andParamore BRONZE, Manalapan, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 67 comments

AMAZING ARTICLE

 


on Apr. 22 2011 at 5:04 pm
JamesBLaurie SILVER, Montreal, Other
6 articles 2 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing - Benjamin Franklin

I like yours, too :)

on Apr. 22 2011 at 3:01 pm
destined_for_fame BRONZE, Privet Drive, California
4 articles 3 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you'll land among the stars."

Haha I like your username :)

on Apr. 22 2011 at 9:45 am
JamesBLaurie SILVER, Montreal, Other
6 articles 2 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing - Benjamin Franklin

This piece is very well written--quite poetic--and I especially love the last line. Bravo!

on Mar. 9 2011 at 6:55 pm
IamtheshyStargirl PLATINUM, Lothlorien, Utah
44 articles 16 photos 2206 comments

Favorite Quote:
Boredom instigates extreme creativity.
~Amoniel

"Bowing gratefully to all of my subjects, 'thank you. Thank you. The pleasure is mine." Nah, I'm just kidding. We're all kings together.'"
~Thesilentraven

Gorgeous, you did a greast job begining and ending this article :)

You are definitely talented in writing.


on Mar. 9 2011 at 2:53 pm
Wow, this is such a heartfelt article. I love how strongly you tell it so that you show how familiar the memories you shared with your Grandma seem. It's truly amazing, thank you for a wonderful read!! :D

on Mar. 9 2011 at 12:33 pm
skyblue95 PLATINUM, Bear, Delaware
35 articles 1 photo 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
I am paraphrasing, of course. "My only fear is that when they are turned to loving they will find we are turned to hating." -Reverand Msimangu, Cry, The Beloved Country (a book by Alan Paton)

I absolutely loved this article! My grandmother has ovarian cancer... I know exactly how it feels. Even though she lived in Mississippi, states away from my home, we are extremely close... Fortunately she hasn't given up on me yet :) I'm a lucky duck... Awesome writing though. Could you check out some of my stuff?

on Feb. 15 2011 at 3:38 pm
AthenaBook SILVER, Arlington, Virginia
5 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
You should not live the way the world asks, but the way that you ask of yourself.

Very strong and powerful; although it was sad... I loved it!!! Amazing job!

on Jan. 24 2011 at 8:28 pm
writerinfinity PLATINUM, Arlington, Texas
35 articles 0 photos 105 comments
Good job. Nice, and strong! :))

on Jan. 24 2011 at 8:17 pm
WinterFairy PLATINUM, Chicago, Illinois
45 articles 15 photos 111 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't dream it. Be it."
"Singing is praying twice, and dancing is singing with the body."
"Paper is more patient than man."
"Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live"

wow. really powerful. i just went through something similar... :(

yellowbunny said...
on Jan. 24 2011 at 5:53 pm
yellowbunny, Windsor, Vermont
0 articles 0 photos 23 comments
the beginning and ending are amazing, i love how they tie together. this is great !

Icekin10 GOLD said...
on Jan. 2 2011 at 6:53 pm
Icekin10 GOLD, Highland, Utah
14 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
Charity is the pure love of Christ.

There were two muffins in an oven. One muffin remarked "It's getting hot in here!" The other muffin exclaimed, "WOAH! A talking muffin!"

I love the "cinderblock feet" imagery. You are talented!

on Jan. 2 2011 at 4:55 pm
Alexandrathepoet PLATINUM, Leesville, South Carolina
35 articles 0 photos 119 comments

Favorite Quote:
If nothing else, believe in art.
~Unknown

This piece so accurately describes the feeling of grief after losing a loved one. I felt the exact same way, and know the awkward feeling of visiting someone in a hospital.

on Dec. 11 2010 at 9:12 pm
shy-writer GOLD, Spotsylvania, Virginia
12 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We're young. We don't need, a boy to love, hold, kiss. We won't always be able to relax and be kids, but we'll always be able to love. So I'm going to get out there and liven up this world, leave my mark, make a difference." -Anonymous

OMG! This reminds me of the time when my grandma passed away! I know exactly how you must have felt. She was really close to me. I am terribly sorry for your loss. But you ARE a very good writer. :)

on Dec. 11 2010 at 8:37 am
dolphin13 BRONZE, North St. Paul, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 125 comments
Awesome Job! It is so in depth. Good Job! Keep Writing!

alwer299 said...
on Nov. 19 2010 at 9:23 pm
wow. i am totally speechless, well obviosly not because i am saying this but still wow.