Growing up, I was in and out of the hospital, for on average a week at a time, at least twice a year, every year, for 12 years.
I had a reflux kidney, which pretty much boiled down to feeling like the most intense UTI you've ever had in your life.
Every time I went into the hospital, my classmates got to dedicate an entire day of classes to making me sweet "get well soon" cards (that are still floating around in my parent's basement somewhere).
Needless to say, I became pretty accustomed to atmosphere, and accompanying dreaded hospital smell.
I thankfully grew out of the condition when I hit my teen years.
Overall though, I was never scared of the hospital.
To me, it was a place where the really nice nurses hung out with you, you got to watch copious amounts of television in bed, and there was always at least one serving of jello a day!!!!
Now fast forward to Friday night, when I revisited my relationship with my friend, "hospital."
This time I was on the other side - the visitors chair.
I dread being a visitor at the hospital.
Every time I've been a visitor, the moment I walk through the automatic doors, I begin the bawl.
Perhaps my negative feelings sprout from the time I visited my grandfather in the hospital, when I was about 8.
He had just suffered a heart attack, and was recovering nicely.
I clutched my mother's hand as we entered the building.
We took the elevator to the appropriate floor, and made our way to his room.
When we got there, we were faced with an empty bed.
Confused, my mother stopped the first nurse to walk by.
"Do you happen to know where Mr. Ballingall is?" my mom asked.
"He's gone! He left us over an hour ago," the nurse said, very bluntly.
Now - to an 8 year old's ears the phrase "he's gone" means "he's passed on." When really, good ol' gramps was probably already out on the golf course, or washing his sweet Cadillac at the car wash.
Anyway, back to my spinning, young mind, that thinks that her beloved grandfather has bitten the bullet, without having the chance to say goodbye.
My bottom lip starts quivering, and I begin my routine of tears, and run into the nearest stairwell.
The nurse joins me on the step, and begins to assure me that her choice of words were simply poorly chosen, and that my grandfather will be fine.
She then went on to add:
"You know - your grandfather is lucky to have a grandson that cares about him, as much as you do!"
(Perhaps an important side note: Throughout my career as a kid, my mom always found it convenient for me to have the ever popular mushroom cut, as it was easily managed, and with me being a total tomboy - why not?!)
I stood up, gave the nurse the most disgusted face that an 8 year old girl who's just been called a boy, can give, and stormed out of the stairwell.
HAPPY FEW DAYS OFF, EVERYBODY!!!!