Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This is Macaroni & Cheese? Hospital Food 1966

Once upon a time, 41 years ago, (June 1966), there was a six year old girl who had to make a trip to the Hospital to have her broken heart repaired. ( Patent Ductus Arteriosis ) Her parents made everything exciting for her, so she would not be so scared. She was even going to the Hospital where she had been born six years earlier.

When Number Two arrived at LDS Hospital, the nurses showed her to her room. It seemed so big! and there was only one bed! A room of her own, she was so excited! Her own sink, her own window, her own everything!

You see Number Two shared a room with her big sister. She had never ever had her own room. So for the next four days, she was going to be living the high life and have this special room to herself. Oh she was elated.

Number Two checked in just before dinner time. On the menu was Macaroni and Cheese. 'Mom, Dad said they are having Macaroni and Cheese. You know that is my favorite!' Mom told her she knew it was her favorite. Number Two was so excited, this surgery-hospital thing was going to be such fun!

So while she enthusiastically awaited the arrival of that favored Mac-n-Cheese, she got busy exploring every nook and cranny in that room. Then Mom and Dad gave her a surprise present. Number Two opened it and found to her amazement her next favorite thing. Something she had desperately wanted forever (probably only a day or two)- it was play money!! paper bills and coins!

After quick thank yous, she was on the bed opening the package and trying not to loose the coins in the covers. She was then buying everything and anything from her mom and her dad. They thought this was so cute. They were glad to see their little one so happy, it helped them feel comforted. They were concerned for the surgery. They had already been through the same procedure with daughter #1, so it was not new, but still scary and still a risk that had to be taken.

Without the surgery, Number Two could possibly have a life span of 18 years, they were told. Without fixing the duct, her blood would be very short on oxygen and her heart would be overworked and it would be difficult for her organs and systems to run properly.

Finally, the long awaited and favorite meal showed up. There was a food tray and a plate with a lid covering it. Number Two did not notice anything else. Her mom lifted the lid and Number Two looked at the Mac-n-cheese. With a look of horror on her face, she looked at her mom and said 'This is Macaroni and Cheese?"

On the plate was a pile of macaroni with a thick orange paste stuck to it! That was not her Mom's Mac & Cheese. In fact that couldn't be Mac & cheese. The kitchen had to have made a mistake!! A really bad one too.

Mom tried to talk to Number Two and explain that there were many ways to fix macaroni & cheese, but Number Two just didn't seem to understand. Finally Number Two took a small taste. 'This is awful mom. It doesn't taste anything like what you make." Mom felt good about the compliment, but sad that Number Two was so disappointed.

Number Two would not eat the stuff. After all it was hospital food, she had not been told that hospital food was yucky, but she found out on her own. There was milk in a small carton, that was cool- except Number Two did not much care for milk. OK, she liked milk with chocolate powder in it. That is a whole other story. Milk.

Mom and Dad spent a couple more hours with her and then they left for home. Promising to be back in the morning. It was OK with Number Two, because she had the nurses and so much to do. Her Great Aunt was head of the nursing department and must have told the nurses to take good care of her, because they were awesome.

Number Two visited other kids on the floor and made quite a few friends. Then it was off to ride the wheelchair up and down the hall. That was done for a long time and was most fun. But too soon the nurses told her she had to stop so that the other patients could get to sleep.

She also had been drinking water with ice. This was so refreshing. But that had to stop at 10:00 pm. That was disappointing.

Just before Number Two was ready to get to bed- mind you it was late and she had never before had her own room and the ability to sneak out of bed and read and play all night- she decided to hide her play money so no one would steal it while she was in surgery. So she did. Now she could go to sleep.

The next morning was early and busy. Mom and Dad were there. The nurses were getting her prepped. They had to shave her from under her left breast area back under her arm and up her back. That was cold and tickle-ly. Then it was final trip to the bathroom. Final hugs and kisses. And then a shot to help relax Number Two.

On the ride to the Operating Room, Number Two fell asleep. The hospital staff sighed in relief, quiet at last!!! The earplugs were removed, stressed smiles were replaced with genuine smiles. 'Why' and 'What's that for', became their most disliked words. I am sure they needed vacations to recover from that over zealous Number Two! But I know Number Two was in their prayers.

Number Two came out of the surgery with flying colors. And even a missing tooth for the tooth fairy. Everything went as expected and the heart valve repair was done completely. She was no longer broken, she was normal. She could live to be a hundred.

This was good news for her parents. Their little girl would be around living a normal life. Playing, Helping, Sharing, Working, Talking..... (By the way, her Dad still uses earplugs when he is near her! He has been trying to invent a switch that will turn her 'talking' off for over 45 years. He is still stumped on that one. Go figure!)

After the surgery, she had many visitors. Some even brought her presents of books and dolls. It was fun. Even though she was very sore, she did her best to stay awake and not cry. Her Daddy stayed in the hospital room with her on a cot during the nights. She was grateful he could do that. She is such a Daddy's girl.

The second day after her operation, Number Two suddenly remembered about her play money. It was not in the room, but the hospital had changed her room. One room for pre-surgery, then off to ICU, and then the recovery room. She asked the nurses about the money, but no one knew anything about it. They checked the old room and could not find it. The Money Was Lost! It was awful. And then like a typical 6 year old, Number Two took joy in what gifts she had left and only felt brief moments of sadness when she remembered her lost money.

The day came when she got to have her stitches removed. The nurses told her Dad that the Techs who would be removing the stitches would be there in about an hour, so Dad went down for breakfast. While he was gone, the Technicians came in and took out the 100+ stitches. Number Two was devastated that Dad was not there to hold her hand. She had to be brave on her own. She had many quiet tears, but did not cry.

The Techs told her Dad how brave she had been. That made her feel proud, but she still missed holding her Dad's hand. His hand would have made the hurt go away, she was sure of that. His hand and voice even today, helps her deal with the hurts and challenges in her life. She really is a Daddy's girl, always will be.

She is a Mommy's girl too. She is so lucky to have great relationships with both parents. Such a blessing!

Soon it was time to go home. It seemed to Number Two that she had been in Hospital for a week but it was only 5 days. The doctors did their final exams, the nurses did their stuff. Photos were snatched and goodbyes and thank yous were exchanged. Then it was off to the car in the fun, wheelchair. No fun on this ride though. She was still very sore and did not like to bump her side or back.

The ride home must have been about an hour in the old days. Today it takes about 35 to 40 minutes. Upon arrival home, Number Two was pretty nauseated and the poor front porch found itself covered in throw up. Sorry Mom and Dad. Number Two was put on the couch in the living room, with pillows and blankets. She was where Mom could watch her and Number Two could watch everyone else.

Soon Number Two had bounced back up and was desiring to do all the things she did before the operation. Like running, riding her bike, rough housing, swimming, swinging, etc. However, some of the activities like rough housing did not go very well, and Number Two knew when to stop so she would not get hurt.

However the bike riding was not allowed. If she fell off and split her incision open? Running had the same concern. Was the bouncing harmful? We would not find out 'cause that was banned. (at least while in the sight of Mom)

Swimming was the worst ban. Grandma had a pool and everyone would go there in June/July. Number Two would dangled her feet in the water and lay on her towel to suntan. She didn't get into the pool until late August that year. That was such a crisis for a six year old.

The followups at the doctors office were always positive. All went well and continued to go well. Now it is just a memory. Normalcy had taken over and everything was normal.

Thanks for reading!

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