This news story about kids spending Thanksgiving in a hospital room in Rochester NY caught my eye when it appeared on the Donate Life blog for a few reasons. First, we spent last Thanksgiving (2011) in a hospital room with Bean recovering from pneumonia.
Second, one of our close online heart transplant friends - a little boy close in age to Bean and also on a similar timeline transplant-wise (he received his heart about a month after Bean received hers) is spending this year in the hospital with fevers from unknown causes. Finally, we had a clinic visit the day before Thanksgiving and I saw many, many families coming and going to visit their children in the hospital at Lucille Packard.
Being in the hospital pretty much stinks in general, but being there on a holiday is really bad. The story doesn't fully capture the disappointment of eating a Thanksgiving meal out of a to-go container (and that only if you have a good friend like I did who was willing and able to bring it by on her own holiday travels) or leftovers from someone else's meal. The hospital tries to make the most of it, with a special menu for both patients and visitors. But, it is still institutional food served in institutional containers. As the mom in the article states, it does become your "normal" after a while, but I don't think normal makes it good or less disappointing. It is just normal to be suffering that disappointment.
I will say I was happy to be there on Thanksgiving and not Christmas. So far, we've spent the following holidays in the hospital: Easter, Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving. Oh, and if you count it, Cinco de Mayo. :) We have a bunny and coffe cup we were given at Sutter Memorial in Sacramento in 2009. I watched fireworks from the roof of Lucile Packard in 2009. I ate a Boston Market Thanksgiving dinner at Lucile Packard in 2011. And we watched a Stanford University's mariachi band play in the lobby of the 3rd floor of Lucile Packard in 2012. All in all, they are not horrible memories, but the memories from holidays spent at home with family and friends are obviously much, much better! I think in a way, you don't really have "holiday memories" for the ones spent in the hospital - there, it is just another day. So, those who spend multiple holidays in a hospital really suffer a loss in their lives.
I am sure to spend another holiday or two in the hospital in the coming years - it is pretty much inevitable with a child who received a heart transplant and now has a leaky valve. But, for this year, I am thankful to be at home instead of a hospital room!