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Another night (or two) in the hospital

I am on the other side of a column that referenced easier days at University Hospital.

This time, instead of a long wait in the ER, I watched them wheel Patient No. 1 away for surgery to remove a blood clot on her brain. That nasty fall on Easter Sunday, turns out, was more serious than first supposed.

God in his providence has granted us a reprieve. We have been given the gift of more time with our precious patient. She is responding well and has told me today is her birthday. She is correct — her 86th. 

Yesterday was spent in the waiting area of a neuroscience intensive care unit. It is a pleasant enough spot. Sun streams through a wall of windows and the view of the Veterans Memorial Stadium is clear. Staring at it, my dad told me he once saw Ole Miss play Alabama on that turf. Must have been decades ago.

There are others here on the benches and line of sling back chairs. Strangers just hours ago, we know now backstories.

Mr. S was with his wife, 73, when she got sick over Sunday lunch. Her head, oh, her head. They flew her in by helicopter from Hazlehurst, and the aneurysm surgery Monday morning went well. Her husband got a message from the anesthesiologist while she was being put to sleep: “Wife wants you to cancel that appointment she had scheduled for today.”

He did. He loved telling that.

Dawn, 44, has been in this ICU for three weeks. So has her faithful husband, Danny. He says that drive from Amory — while his wife was on a life flight — was wrenching.

“We made it, though,” he says, rubbing the stubble of a three-day beard on his face. There’s a 15 year-old at home and “golden” grandparents who are making sure he gets to his baseball games. Dawn’s aneurysm was serious, and the family is taking it one day at a time.

“It’s backward and forward. One day she shows us her abilities, the next she sleeps. The doctor says brains heal differently than any other organ.”

Danny, it’s clear, has this hospital thing down. “I can’t bear to leave,” he tells me. Danny is one of those rare breeds, the kind that takes time to make sure my dad knows where to sleep and buys him coffee “just because.”

There’s also a couple in our circle waiting, waiting, waiting as the woman’s twin brother prepares for surgery. I can’t help but overhear the doctor speaking to them: “Well, stroke is a really a layman’s term …”

I want to interrupt and tell him we are all laymen, the whole bunch of us lining the hall on the fourth floor. But the truth of it is this: I am glad that guy in the scrubs knows the terms I must Google. I’m thankful he chose to take advanced chemistry when I did not. Above all, I’m grateful God inclines some to save lives through medicine.

So, with my column deadline 45 minutes past, I give this update: I’m still learning lessons at the hospital, and the primary one has been about kindness. Our days (and nights) at the hospital have been buffered by it on every front — from strangers on the elevator to the top neurosurgeon in the state of Mississippi.    

And if you don’t mind, I’ll add this to my word count: Happy birthday, Mom. Get well soon.

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.