by Suzanne Reisler Litwin,
weekly column: Keeping It Real
Recently, I got that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. You know the call that all parents fear the most. At 2:00 a.m. the emergency room nurse told me, “Your son had a terrible accident. He fell from a very high height. He’s stable. How soon can you get here? He requires major surgery.” My initial reaction was, “What the hell happened? Can he move? What can I do? Who needs to know? How am I going to get to him? Why is this happening? Is this real or am I dreaming? I have to get to him now!”
Within moments, my life was thrown upside down and fear ran through my veins. I had to get to my son, STAT! Problem was, we were in different cities and time was a major factor.
Within a few hours I was flying towards him. However, I wasn’t flying fast enough. Then I was driving towards him. I wasn’t moving fast enough. I felt my heart was pounding at the speed I wanted to be moving.
I did get to the hospital on time, but not soon enough. His surgery had already begun. I was in the building, but not able to see him. I was told to wait as the surgery was going to last well over 5 hours. I was directed to sit in the family waiting room, alone. On this night the only interaction I had was with a computer display that showed his name and the fact he was in Operating Room #1.
I sat alone. Cold. Scared. Nervous. Alone, for a very long time. I felt paralyzed. To make matters worse, my phone battery was running out which was the only life line I had to my family. I sat worried and waited in a cold damp sweat. My 21 year old son was in major reconstructive surgery and there was nothing I can do but, sit alone and wait.
After 3 hours, a nurse came to see me. She said the surgery was going well and asked how I was feeling. I told her I was cold and scared. Her kind words were comforting but she needed to quickly get back to the operating room.
Surprisingly, 5 minutes later she re-appeared with a pillow, 2 heated blankets and directed me to a chair which folded out almost flat. She told me to “get cozy and relax” as there would be many more hours of waiting. I think she was an angel!
I got cozy and tried to relax. Actually, I almost dosed off. I was so warm that I felt safe and less afraid. For a brief moment, my comfort felt like I was flying in first class. The comforting this nurse gave me was just what I needed to get through this living nightmare.
As I waited for my son to enter the post op recovery room, I thought to myself how this simple act of tender loving care (TLC) juxtaposed me into a place of comfort. I needed to be cared for, for I too was suffering. I will never forget her face when she gave me the pillow and blankets. She had a reassuring smile and twinkly eyes.
Presently, my son is recovering from his injuries and I am recovering from this life changing event.
Along this journey I have met amazingly skilled and caring people. I would like to be everyone’s friend and I hope to stay in touch. Who knows if that will happen? It’s similar to meeting a stranger on an airplane and after talking for 3 hours, you never seeing them again. Unfortunately, we don’t live in the same city.
During this event many people said to me, “Bad things happen for a reason and something good will come out of it”. I agree. I have learned a great deal from this terrible experience. I learned that the human spirit for caring and giving triumphs all sorrows. I’ve learned many more lessons which I will share with you.
1. Tender loving care is always needed. Give it freely!
2. Care givers need as much compassion and care as those they are caring for.
3. Compassion is a beautiful emotion. Listen intently and try to feel compassion for those who are suffering.
4. When the crazy sh** hits the fan, don’t try to go at it alone. Call in your troops. You will need them.
5. The Medical and Nursing communities are filled with people who are the real Super Heroes! Appreciate their knowledge and support their endeavors.
6. Whenever you get a chance, pray on a lucky star and thank your angels! I met one. Xo
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an author/writer/columnist/educator. She contributes every Monday morning to the West Island Blog.
She is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban newspaper. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. She lives in Montreal, Canada with her 3 children, Allyn, Taylor, and Duke and her husband Laurie. Suzanne contributes regularly to West Island Blog under her column Keeping it Real. Please visit her website www.suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.