Imagine, your standing next to your spouse of about 8-10 years in a foreign place, a Pediatric ICU. All around you are rooms filled with sick children, they're parents waiting for a miracle of healing so they can leave like the people they see walking through the electronic double doors. Your standing there looking down at your daughter, she is 6 months old, innocent and helpless. She moves not a muscle, around her head the sheets are stained red, tubes extend from every orfice it seems, winding their way towards machines that are keeping her heart beating, her lungs inflated. Her swollen eyes are closed and you lean forward speaking to her, knowing she cant her you. She's already gone, her brain is dead from the massive injuries from the car accident. You are in a hospital gown and bare feet, so is your spouse who sits in a wheel chair in the doorway, head in hands sobbing. Your daughter will die soon, as you have made the decision to let her go, you say to the nurse "She's suffered enough". You look up, your older daughter is headin goff to surgery to repair her injuries. She will live but it makes it no less easier. You tell her at the door to the PICU that you will be waiting for her when she gets back. She hears you, though sedated with a tube in her throat, she is still among the living. Turning back, you see your spouse holding your younger child. She looks at you and nods that its time.
This was my day yesterday. Somedays I just shake my head that I can keep doing this. I came home, walked in my door and grabbed both of my boys and hugged them until they yelled "mom!! let me go!" at which time I did, reluctantly. Everyday is precious to me now, every moment, every football game and every school play. It was before this day in the PICU, but this day just gave me a little reminder of what I was most thankful for: two healthy children and a healthy husband. I hate to send my kids off to school, some days I wonder "what if I dont make it home?" Again yesterday I was asked twice, How do you do this? I just do. You 'de think I would have a better answer than that after being asked so often, but everytime they ask, I stop and wonder how also.
So back to the PICU. This is what i walked into. The nurses were in their protective mode, flocking aorund this family like guardian angels, trying to protect them from any further harm which included me. If I would have had on a grim reaper costume I dont think I would have been treated any differently. What pains me was that they were making the decision on what was best for that family, by protecting them. Its hard for PICU nurses to switch mindsets mid stream with a case like this, I sympothize. How do you go from taking care of a little baby, to giving up, to thinking about other kids that might benifit from this tragedy through organ donation? No, I think on some level that means they have failed. Failed to keep this girl alive, despite there being nothing they could have done. Me being there was a reminder that that had happened. In the end, the process was done wrong, the family let her go, she did not help others and it was so very sad because deep inside many PICUs across the country are desperate parents waiting for miracles that yesterday did not come.
Someday, god willing never, that might be me as a waiting parent or as a parent of a dying child. Signing on that line would be the hardest thing ever I had to do, but I would do it. How can I ask of parents to do something I wouldn't even do myself? Everynight I pray that this will never happen.
Back to normal today, Kids at school, husband at work... I am relaxing with the cat on my bed. Life seems so normal for me, but tomorrow I will do it again. Because its in my blood to go to work for 100,000 people a day, and I love it. :)