I’m sort of slowly easing my way through That Dragon, Cancer, both because that’s the only way to do it for me probably, and also because I spent a bunch of yesterday at an actual hospital myself, doing some deliveries for Child’s Play. The combination of these two things made for a pretty brutal day.
We had a cart of different bags for the floor we were on, with a list of patients and their room numbers, and as I looked over the first of the two sheets it became clear that none of the kids on that list were older than a year. Two months. Four months. One month. I knew that it was an ICU floor, but not that it was an ICU floor for babies.
I have seen small hospital beds, like the one my son was in. But I had never seen an ICU hospital bed for a Goddamn baby, and yesterday I saw many of them. They are too small; they are too small. I saw a crib that was like a regular crib except full of wires and lights. There was a curtain behind these beds parents could use to make a little bedroom for themselves, and these bedrooms were often in use. If you’ve ever had to sleep in a hospital, you know that it’s nearly impossible to do. People are coming in constantly to do really important things. They need to do those things. But you’re lucky if you can get any period of sustained sleep in those places, which is to say the kind of sleep you need to think correctly. It all sort of compounds itself. The enormity of the challenge seems to grow. If there’s sleep going on in there, we leave it outside with a note. Everybody in there needs it.
When we come in as Child’s Play, we recognize that the families and the staff are a kind of mesh that holds everything together, so we cater a lunch for the staff and we’ve got toys and games for everybody else. We dropped off a copy of Ticket To Ride for a mom who was very excited to receive it; what an amazing tool to have in that place, a place where empty time is constantly pressing down on you. And it’s very confusing if you can’t see your little brother right now because he is too sick, you’ve got balloons for him and you can’t go in. I’ve got Skylanders stuff for that kid. It occurred to me that we founded this in 2003 and I didn’t understand until just now what we were actually doing. I have been staring at this cursor for a long time. Help me, someone else write this. I want there to be a God, there should be one, because these people deserve an answer.
There was some leftover food I got to after everyone else had eaten it. There is something about that environment that makes you feel starved and desperate, and I did my best to guide the shaking fork into the customary hole. I had only been there for a couple hours. It was the least I could do, and I still couldn’t handle it.