Monday, January 24, 2011

18 Days and Counting...

18 days and counting….

I spent part of my afternoon with a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper’s family at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. He was struck by an intoxicated driver early Sunday morning in Mesquite while placing another suspected drunk driver under arrest. The sprawling medical facility is overwhelming. It is just a huge hospital. I felt like a country bumpkin that had come to town as I entered “Parking Garage #5.”

As the trooper recovers in the Intensive Care Unit, he has a wonderful family camped out in the waiting room eager to observe every step of his journey to recovery. Uniformed co-workers are taking turns sitting at the hospital ready to serve his family in anyway they are able. Today they were joined by our DPS regional victims’ services counselor and me.

Somewhere during the course of the afternoon the family told me about a lady who has staked out her spot in the ICU waiting next to them. That ladies husband has been in ICU for 18 days. Apparently there has been no change in that time period in his condition. I don’t know the nature of his injuries or health concerns, but I do know it is not good. The trooper’s family also told me that their “ICU neighbor” has been all alone during the entire 18 day period…

This is not the first time that I have observed someone in an intensive care waiting room all alone. Unfortunately it is way too common. But for some reason today it just hit me hard. I felt for the unnamed stranger next to us who must terribly afraid. And she has no one to share that fear with in a hospital that is intimidating by its size alone.

ICU waiting rooms are busy places. I know from personal experience that you form special bonds with your waiting room neighbors as everyone awaits news regarding the progress of their loved ones. Today the image of a deserted island popped in my head. The lady next to us is surrounded by good people, but in a sense she has been living on a deserted emotional island all by herself for 18 days.

People stranded on deserted islands need to be rescued. I am thankful for several of my friends that volunteer their time to visit perfect strangers in the hospital. But today I am reminded that those visits must include family members too. Who is ready to undertake the service of sailing out to the deserted islands that exist in ICU waiting rooms everywhere? 18 days and counting…

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