I had problems with the hospital food. I had many problems. Since I had been a long-term resident, the dietician told me I could write in requests on the menu as long as they met my strict diet guidelines. She told me what foods they always had in the kitchen so I could request them at any time. I started doing this, but apparently, the people in the kitchen were unable to understand my requests. One day I asked for a green leaf salad. I got a big styrofoam box of spinach leaves. One day I asked for a baked potato. I got three raw new potatoes. This kind of thing was very upsetting to me. I’m sure I was nowhere near mentally stable at this point, but I was railing against the unseen cafeteria food preparers. I plotted ways to get back at them. I considered going down there and stuffing raw potatoes in their mouths. Fortunately for them, I was under close supervision. And fortunately for me, I had kind nurses who worked hard to make sure I had something decent to eat at every meal.
The nurses were the great comfort of my hospitalization. Doctors are great, but they never hang around for very long. Nurses are the people who make or break a medical crisis. They are the mamas who cared for me when my mom couldn’t be around. I got to know most of the nurses on the high risk unit. We watched tv shows together, talked about their children, laughed about different things, spoke disparagingly about the cafeteria staff, we just hung out. One nurse in triage told me that she liked working triage because she didn’t have time to get attached to her patients. I came through triage every time I had an infusion, so we saw one another constantly. She told me when I left she would miss seeing me and that we’d have to go hang out by the pool or something. Sadly, we haven’t kept in touch. I think of her every time I look at the back of my left hand. I have a scar from an IV she gave me there, just one of many marks left from my hospital “residency.”
Scars are things that some people, especially women, try to cover. By the time I left the hospital, I looked like I’d been in a fight with a porcupine, and I had definitely lost. I still have scars from many of my IVs. I have scars on my belly from the troker, and I have the ultimate badge of honor for any mom, stretch marks. I thought I was going to be in the clear on the stretch marks. My belly didn’t have a single one. I felt this was only fair since I had so many other battle scars. What I did not realize was that stretch marks are not limited to one’s belly. Let’s just say those nasty things literally sneaked up behind me. Oh the joys of pregnancy.
The stretch marks only added more marks of the battle. My belly had been a pin cushion for two months, so I had pin-pricks all over it. Every time I had an infusion, I would get a shot of Terbutaline in my shoulder, which often left a bruise. Oh, and did I mention I have an Rh negative factor, so I got Rhogam shots in the rear after each infusion as well. The diabetic diagnosis meant I had my blood sugar checked 4 to 6 times a day, each time meant a prick in the finger. One would think I would stay as far away from needles as possible, but the hobby I spent the most time on in my last few weeks of hospitalization…quilting. I guess you could say I was a glutton for punishment.
Eight years later, I still have many of these marks, and I would never dream of trying to cover them or have them surgically “fixed.” It would be like trying to erase the past, and although this was a difficult time, erasing it would be like erasing a part of me, or worse, erasing Will. Scars only exist on the living. If a wound kills, it doesn’t leave a scar. A scar is a sign of healing. People who are scarred have been changed by something difficult and are living life on the other side. When the resurrected Jesus presents himself to His disciples, he shows them the nail marks in His hands. If Jesus stands on the other side of death with scars, there must be great beauty in bearing a mark for the sake of another.