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A Childhood Memory
By Carrie Lowthert
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
A memory of a seven year old's experience as a patient.
I was about seven years old. I had been admitted to a cancer unit at the Copenhagen University Hospital due to an aggressive growing cyst in my forearm. In order to better address the condition, I was placed in unit for adults. Needless to say it was not a very uplifting place for a little girl. However I was a very energetic and imaginative girl, some would say I was hopelessly positive. I tried to escape the immediate reality into a world of my own through my games. Most of the staff and the other patients appeared to be very fond of me, or they just showed immense patience.
My mom understood my predicament and let me do almost anything, but within a close distance and with an apologetic expression toward the passing nurses. I am not sure whether the nurses were always aware of my whereabouts, or they just ignored my curiosity, as they let me explore the various storage rooms with band-aids, gauze, compressions and plastic syringes in any size imaginable - just to keep me out of their hair.
The nurses often let me help them serve the food to the patients. I would ask what they wanted to drink and bring it on their tray. The older ladies liked my nurse-routine but the older male patients were usually more grumpy, so I quickly learned my lesson, and decided to never go back to room One.
I discovered the accessory room with much interest. The wheel-chairs that looked like they could fit two people, the walking-bars, the crutches, and anything with wheels. I found out that the walking-bar was a lot of fun once I managed to make it to go fast. A walking-bar is a tall walker with wheels that the patient rest their shoulders and arms on to exercise their legs. On the long restless afternoons, when we just walked around waiting for nothing, I spent the hours racing up and down the corridors on the walking-bar like a scooter. Sometimes the whole monstrosity fell over and I landed flat on my face. The nurses jumped out to look down the corridor. When they saw it was just me, they let me figure it out for myself and calmly returned to their station.
My hospital stay usually lasted a week, and at one time I was fortunate to be admitted along with the only other youth on the unit. A fifteen year old girl named Anne-Sofie. I later found out that her dad and my mom had went to school together, and her grandfather owned a prominent store in our town with assorted cheese.
Anne-Sofie was very nice to me and we quickly got along. I shared my excitement for the wheel chairs with her, and off we went. I was riding and she was pushing. We were quite the team. Remembering it, I picture us as a humorous image from a Norman Rockwell painting, flying down the corridors in the empty hospital foyer, with the two little wheels in the front rattling with such noise it knocked the night guard off his chair. With a mean expression and a grouchy tone he told us to get back to our floor immediately. Anne-Sofie just turned around as if nothing had happened, cheerfully running back the way we came from, with the same noise and speed. I don’t think she knew I would come to always remember that night. Anne-Sofie had her surgery the next morning and went home a couple days later. I saw her one more time a year later when she visited her grandfather across the street from my grandmother.
Unfortunately girls like Anne-Sofie was not always around, so in the late hours when I couldn’t sleep and my mom had retired to her room, I was on the look-out for something else to distract myself with.
For a while I had my eyes on some scooters used by the piccolos or page-boys, riding the floors in the vast hospital, delivering mail and x-rays. The scooters were equipped with brakes in the back, a bell on the handlebar and a basket in the front.
One night I found one by an elevator. I looked around, and since no one was there to claim it I grabbed it. Despite my lack of hight, I quickly learned how to maneuver it. The joy of freedom and the wind blowing in my hair was indescribable in comparison to the confined and gloomy hospital bed. I felt that since I had the basket, I mind as well put it to use. So I came up with the idea to draw little drawings on a note pad of sunsets and wired monsters, put in the basket and then proceeded to ride to all the nearby floors and units, and deliver it at the nursing stations. Not all shared my enthusiasm nor the notion for my delivery service, and when sleepiness overcame me, I returned to my unit where I parked the scooter next to my bed. I went to the kitchen, hogged the fridge for strawberry yogurt and went to bed.
Next morning when I was enjoying myself with a cardboard box my mom had gotten me (picture), two worried young men came by and asked the nurses if they had seen a scooter. Overhearing it I happily pointed toward the “joy maker” by my bed. Relieved and slightly irritated the young men left with my toy.
For the one who wonder how I could have such freedom as a child in a large hospital such as this, it should be said that the account took place many years ago in a peaceful land far away. The service and the care in the hospital was very good. We gained many good relationships with both doctors and nurses over the eight years my treatment lasted. Also I had all through my childhood a constant need to explore and runaway, to this day I frequently get lost from my husband in the supermarket. As for my mother, she was an exceptionally good mother to me, she was what some would call a “Super-mom.”
Copyright © Carrie Lowthert 2005
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