Friday, April 26, 2024

Stranger in my old home

I got off at the Thomas road exit from SR 51, turned right and turned left to enter a place that once was my second home. I couldn’t understand how I was staring at a new building that I never even saw the ground breaking of or a rent-a-gate around. An entirely new garage fabricated in what has felt like overnight replacing a building I attended meetings at while sitting on an advisory committee. When did it get taken down? When did they start and finish this beautiful new garage? We parked. I “knew” the front entrance would be closed at 8pm, but then again, maybe not? What else has changed?

As we walked to the emergency room entrance, the one built after Sonzee was born, the one that made our emergency visits a breeze, to the right I noticed another new building. What is it? I don’t even know. I didn’t see that come to life either. We entered the double doors and I told them we were checking in for a sleep study. We’ve done this before, I know where it is, or so I thought. “Go straight and turn right into the imaging area, they’ll check you in there”. My confidence returned as we walked. Sonzee’s oldest sister recounted waiting by the pharmacy (we saw this one built) and various other memories. When the tech came I “knew where we were headed”, we had plenty of EEGs in the sleep study area, it was the first place Sonzee had her first EEG, the one we learned we wanted to be “normal”, the one that “was”. But, then we headed towards the elevators. Why? What? Where are we going? Instant panic, please not the 8th floor. He pressed 3, some relief filled my body, but then I had to say, “oh it’s no longer in the east building?” It apparently moved a year ago. “Oh”. Another slap in my face. No big deal. We exited the elevators. To the right I know well. There’s a laundry room and a “garden”, but it’s not really a garden. It’s a place where the breeze blows and you can get your sick child some fresh air, IF they’re not on restrictions. We turned left. Ok. But wait. I’ve been here before, why? 2018, aka the year the Zaila Family celebrated Christmas, despite also celebrating Chanukah. Julie our incredible child life specialist didn’t care that we’d celebrated Chanukah, we were to also celebrate Christmas, and that we did. Bikes and toys galore, blankets, everything you can think of, shopped for right there in that open space with floor to ceiling shelves in its own remote toy store. I remember the tears I felt when I walked in and how overwhelming it all was. Now, there are rooms, large rooms, with new fancy parent beds in the new sleep lab. We walked into room 3 and a bear waited on the bed. Fitting. 

The night was uneventful unlike plenty of others I’ve spent as a “resident” at 1919 E Thomas Road. Her sister donned Sonzee’s special bear EEG hat as she slept with her new bear and her “Sonzee bear”  In the morning as we left my eyes lingered towards the garden. A part of me wanted to go there, but I fought the urge, turned right and we went onto the elevator. As we got off on the 1st floor at 6am the “resident” moms in their pjs and hospital socks and shoes were heading to Starbucks, a life I once lived and knew all too well, but it’s one that now remains in my mind. We turned left and headed out the double doors and walked to the car in the old but once “new “parking garage as I watched the doctors and nurses and staff enter the now really new garage, the one I assume is for them because of the code box but something I won’t ever officially know. 

It’s been almost 5 years since the last time I took the elevator up to the 8th floor. It’s been a couple of years since I closed the door to a spot on an advisory committee because I needed to help myself move forward. It may (and in some ways hopefully be) the last time I ever take those elevators of PCH, but my heart breaks as I have officially become a stranger in a place that once was once my old home.   

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