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Opinion

Hospital trip in New York City teaches life long lessons

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May 9, 2013

New York gave me a lot of new experiences, but I never expected to experience taking care of a friend in the hospital while I was here.

I woke up one Sunday to a missed call and a frantic text message from Isabel, one of my closest friends. I called her back only to find her incoherent and crying. I rushed from my apartment to hers, a couple of floors up, and she complained of severe back pain. I had no idea what was wrong with her and I didn’t know what to do.

I Googled the closest hospital and called a cab, because there was no way Isabel would be able to take a bus or walk the two miles needed. Sam was on his way to an LSAT prep class but ran back to come to the hospital with us. Dan and Kaylie, our other closest friends, were in Manhattan on a history field trip so they had no idea what was going on.

Once we got to the emergency room, we took a seat in the packed emergency room. I was convinced we would be there for a while, so I stepped out to call Kaylie and my mom. I was freaked out because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Isabel. I felt so helpless and I couldn’t make the pain go away.

When I got back to the waiting room, Sam and Isabel were gone. I went through a moment of panic before I realized Isabel was being triaged and registered. Apparently, when I stepped outside, she passed out and vomited, so she was able to bypass everyone else waiting.

Once we were planted in the pediatric’s emergency room, I could breathe easier. Our time had only begun, though. After five hours Isabel was released. She had been diagnosed with a kidney infection and prescribed antibiotics. She was given morphine in the emergency room, but the doctor could only give her an ibuprofen prescription for the pain.

The three of us made our way to Walgreens to pick up her prescriptions. Her pain had subsided for awhile, but as soon as we lined up to take the bus, it came back full force.

The pain never really went away after that. I had to walk her back from the bus stop to our apartment building, which is probably four blocks away. I was totally supporting her body and she was delirious with pain. I stayed in her room until she fell asleep, but she was in pain all night.

We decided that if the pain was just as bad Monday night we would call the hospital for advice. When Monday night rolled around, she was crying again and twitching with pain.

We installed ourselves in the waiting room again and ended up in the same pediatric emergency room. This time, however, the nurses weren’t too keen to let Sam and I back with Isabel, even though the night before we were able to go everywhere with her. We pleaded with the registration office and said we were her roommates and the only people she knew in New York City, and they finally let us back with her.

Isabel’s parents live in Mexico and Arizona, but were at their Mexico home when everything happened. On Monday night her mom decided to come to New York and at first, I thought it would be unnecessary because we could handle it. But after staying at the hospital until 3 a.m. on Tuesday, I realized Sam and I couldn’t be the only ones taking care of her.

Isabel was admitted to the hospital for the kidney infection, so Sam and I were able to go home and sleep. I was a zombie the next day, but her mom wasn’t there yet, so I went back as soon as my last class ended. The pain was under control, but it would come back periodically, so Isabel and I chilled and watched bad TV for hours until her mom’s flight got in.

The moment her mom saw Isabel laying in the hospital bed, she cried and said a lot of things in Spanish. I had to look away because I was going to cry. In that moment, I missed my mom so much. I had been calling her the whole week to ask questions and unload my worries, but it wasn’t enough.

I was so tired and stressed out from days of helping Isabel and soothing her pain. I was mentally and physically exhausted and I went home and cried. The worst of it was over, but I slept and took naps for a few days before I felt normal again.

Isabel was released from the hospital on Thursday and her mom stayed at her apartment until Monday morning. Everytime I went to Isabel’s room to check in, my nose was assaulted by the smell of tacos, corn on the cob and soup.

Last week was the scariest moment of this semester. I don’t know how parents take care of their sick children because I was useless after four days. I definitely didn’t expect to spend one of my last weeks in a hospital room, but I’m glad for the experience. It was a lesson in patience and strength, and I definitely grew as a person.

Amanda White is a junior majoring in journalism. She appreciates good books, good style, and good conversation.