If you commute to Glendon via TTC, you probably know where Sunnybrook Hospital is.
This Thanksgiving, our Glendon eAmbassadors team is talking about what we’re thankful for; we call it #ThanksGLiving! Check out the posts this week by using the hashtag across social media!
So last week, I hopped onto a bus after class to walk in to a hospital for the first time since my very first birthday, a.k.a. the day I turned zero years old. It was a decision I had made despite being warned of the depressing environment and heavy vibes I’d carry home with me after the visit.
I wanted to see a family member with heart disease because you can say “the heart wants what it wants,” but you never know what it’s planning after undergoing a mini attack. (I deal with grief through humour apparently). My grandpa was due for surgery after having a mini heart-attack earlier in the week, so I wasn’t taking any risks while he awaited surgery. I didn’t want to bare the regret of not spending enough time with someone, knowing well I could have.
At this point, my classes didn’t matter; I missed 3/4 of them and failed to submit an assignment. My responsibilities didn’t matter; I took a break from emails. All I could focus on, whether intentionally or unintentionally, was the fact that my grandpa was in a hospital bed – somewhere you don’t usually find yourself unless you are closer to death than you are to life.
It puts things into perspective.
Before walking in to the hospital, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting closer to a bacterial environment. How selfish of me to think that way, though, when the real threat of danger was any potential bacteria I’d be carrying in to infect already-vulnerable patients. They were probably more fearful of me than I was of them.
This was the first time I realized I was in a whole new world – one which didn’t involve me. And, I’m forever grateful that it wasn’t about me.
Now, waiting for an elevator in a hustling lobby of the hospital was like I was an extra on the show “House,” with everybody in scrubs walking about with people to meet and operations to oversee; a sea of patients, visitors, doctors, technicians, researchers, food service workers, you name it. Everyone there was working in the interest of life, literally, for its progression and preservation.
As my brother guided me through the hospital hallways over the phone in order to reach my grandpa’s room, my eyes darted from one sign to the next; I was curious to read the million names of health circumstances and their designated corridors; Cardiac Intensive Care, Infection Prevention and Control, Otolaryngology (head & neck surgery), etc…
I didn’t know there was this many health conditions out there… I probably only noticed 25% of them too.
My grandpa’s room was overbearing; huge machines and screens all linked up to his body through tubes and wires. Was he comfortable like this? Whenever he needed to use the bathroom, he had to remove a gazillion wires attached to him, while making sure the one keeping him alive is well-attached. That’s a lot of discomfort if you ask me.
He’s a tough yet humble soul, though. He wouldn’t admit he was uncomfortable – at least not in front of his grandkids.
I noticed more than only my grandpa’s health.
I heard some people hurting bad, screaming in pain a couple of rooms down the hall.
I saw that some patients didn’t have any visitors.
I saw a nurse crying her eyes out on the phone.
I learned that hours of any hospital worker can vary from ten to twenty hours per shift, even for surgeons who I imagine probably need a lot of sleep to concentrate.
You hear the sounds of heart beats all day. You see the incarnations of sorrow, hopelessness, and tension. There was a family wearing all black right beside my grandpa’s room – they looked like they had been crying.
It’s not your ideal environment to stick around in for a whole day.
I’m thankful I got to experience this environment, though. It gave me a reality check. I take for granted the way I can get out of my bed freely to use the washroom, or the food I eat, and the bed I sleep on. I take for granted the life I lead, commuting from one activity to another on a given day, not fearing the thought of staying in bed all day with only a tablet in my hands, waiting for my next meal to keep me entertained. I take it for granted that I don’t have to be checked on every 2 hours. I take it for granted that I don’t have to hear pain next door.
I take my life for granted.
This Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to good health. I don’t acknowledge it enough. I sit here with all my 5 senses working, all my bodily functions carrying my body through day-to-day life, and my bones ready to take on the next adventure.
I thank everybody who has invested in my health. Whether it’s my aunt who sent me recipes for a healthy breakfast, or my mom who cooks the healthiest meals – although they may sometimes be the smelliest, I’m thankful. I love the articles I read online that people share to help others with their health. And, I love God for giving me everything I need to make a difference in this world. Without my health, it’d be pretty dang hard to accomplish the goals I’ve set out for myself and the calling I feel led to pursue.
I get to catch the 124 to school tomorrow, ready to invest in my education in order to carry out my dreams in life, without worrying about any wires attached to me to keep me alive.
And to anybody who is undergoing health issues, just know that you are a beacon of light and hope. You remind me how strong the human body can be and how much it can endure. You remind me how much privilege and power I have and that I should not take it for granted.
Your circumstance is my second chance and I am forever thankful for you.
I will live to honour you through my commitment to never waste my health and energy on matters that are minuscule! (Although I may fail at times, I will always try.) Thank you again for your inspiration.
Special thank you also to the amazing nurses, doctors, responders, and everyone in between who works efficiently and respectably to save lives every day. You are all unique human beings that have abilities some of us don’t – we see you, we love you.
To Sunnybrook hospital, you have been incredibly hospitable and helpful toward my family, and especially my grandpa. We will never forget your spirits of compassion and caregiving. Thank you infinitely.
Huge shoutout to my mom as well who had to stay in the hospital with her father all day long, on her birthday. She is the strongest woman I know.
Last but not least, thank you for reading this today. If my experiences made you reevaluate your current situation the way they did mine, I’ll have fulfilled the purpose of this story.
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!
And, see you next week on Mondays with Manda!