You Don't Know This Heartache
And really, I don't either. I was just a passer-by to this world but it affected me deeply enough to share. Our friend Sue has a son, he is almost 18. A very sweet, polite young man who has known far too much pain in his short life. He was born HIV positive and has spent the past almost 18 years first being adopted by our friend and her now-ex partner, then enduring a lifetime of needle pricks to monitor the disease's (lack of, to date) progress on his scrawny body.
About two weeks ago, this guy caught some sort of viral infection that has started ravaging his body. His brain, some internal organ that I can't remember offhand and now, possibly, his heart have been impacted. He's been in the hospital ever since, his first lengthy stay ever. I went to visit him last night, to bring my little DVD player and a handful of movies for him. It was nothing like visiting little miss Sammi the night of her one-time-only seizure.
I'd heard he was feeling better, so I had high hopes that he'd be sitting up, giving everyone a hard time. When I asked at the nurses' station where his room was, in the time it took her to walk the 3 steps to gesture in the direction of his room, about 5 doctors and nurses had rushed in there.
Thanks for showing me the way but a simple wave of the arm would have been far preferable to that kind of commotion! The man was having a hard time breathing. I waved at his mom and waited in the hallway. Eventually they all left, having hooked up a big oxygen mask. The man was curled up in his bed, looking smaller than ever, hovering near the oxygen thingie. He did his best to perk up for my visit, told me about how he plays roller hockey in the driveway, how he can't remember what he was studying in school, but they were playing football in PE.
Later, a nurse, (not Pam, who is apparently the expert in such matters) came in to draw blood. The man HATES having blood drawn. He's acutely aware of how many of his veins no longer cooperate and watching him hold his weary arm up to the light to look for a potential vein broke my heart. It took a number of tries, eventually the vein he found was the one that worked. But kids shouldn't need to know where to look for a tappable vein, they just shouldn't.
I stayed until way too late, but I think it meant something to the man and his mom, to have someone new to talk to. He finally fell asleep, after many visits from doctors and nurses who all wanted to do some prodding or poking of some sort. Drugs were administered, IV's were checked and re-tubed, breathing treatments given, and all the while, the man stayed cool, chatting as much as possible, groaning when not.
When he needed some privacy, I stepped into the hallyway to wait. As I stood there, surrounded by the steady beeping of monitors, the hiss of oxygen flowing around me, I prayed to a God that I'm not sure I know that our baby be spared that kind of life, that he be healthy and perfect from the start.
And instantly, I felt guilty for asking. But I asked just the same.
I heard this morning that the man had a better night so I'm hopeful that he's on the mend. In the meantime, if you'd like to send a great young guy you may never meet a card or an email (his mom has taken apart the phone in his hospital room and is dialing up from her laptop. She can print out any ecards he gets, or even just email well-wishes from kind strangers like you) please email me and I'll put you in touch with his mom.