The evening, my brother and I visited some old friends at the Harborview Hospital Neuro ICU. The experience was amazing. It’s difficult to convey what it means to me in words alone, but I’ll try.
I’d been wanting to do this for a while. With my brother in town for the holidays, it seemed a nice opportunity to pay a visit to the fine folks who played such instrumental roles in saving my life, and giving me the care which made my recovery possible. In addition to getting to experience the visit with him, he has the advantage of being able to remember the people in the ICU much better than I can – my memory of the days immediately following the accident is a bit hazy.
We’ve all heard that hospitals get hit hard during the holidays. There are too many accidents on the road. The people who work in hospitals experience people’s heartache every day. That’s a lot to carry. The folks at Harborview, particularly in the ER and ICU were amazing to me and to my family and friends during my stay there. They offered excellent medical care, treated me with dignity, and afforded great support and guidance to those who were there with me as well.
room 266, my old stomping grounds
I wrote a letter to them ahead of time, to bring along with the gift basket we’d gotten for them. Based on my experience in visiting the Harborview NICU back in April, it felt as though leaving some kind words for them to post for others there would be helpful to them. I included some pictures, thinking that seeing the people they helped the most would be nice. You can read the letter here. The words come from my heart, and the pictures reflect the good fortune I’ve experienced in recovery.
Eighteen months ago, it wasn’t clear that I’d have been able to be an active person, and an engaged parent. I think about this every day when I wake up.
We went over in the early evening, the day after Christmas, arriving in the NICU around 5. I was floored when the woman we approached at the desk said to my brother – "I recognize you". She remembered what had happened to me (bike accident), a number of family members and friends, and even remembered my room number. Several other folks came by who also remembered us. One of the doctors who had cared me for was there, and remembered my father as "the lion of the family". Amazing.
I was able to stammer out some thanks (between some tears) and exchange handshakes and hugs all around.
These fine folks almost never get to see what their good work means to the people they care for. Being a trauma center, many of their patients don’t make it. Many that do make it live a good distance away, and can’t easily get back. The holidays are a great time to express thanks. And in addition to potentially giving the Harborview folks a chance to see what positive impact they have on people like us, doing this definitely helps me put what happened into perspective.
I will remember this day for as long as I can remember anything. What an incredible experience to be able to say "thanks for everything", and to literally mean "everything".
updated a bit more on 12/27.