I was dressed in a short summer dress. I packed my weekend bag. Long weekends were always reserved for quick getaways for us, for our family.
It was a warm day, a pleasant forecast for the upcoming Memorial weekend and the unofficial kickoff to the summer season.
This weekend was going to be a little different though. Instead of a foodie filled adventure, sightseeing new places, or an occasional trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” I was headed to the hospital to watch Samar for the next few nights. It was my turn in our rotation.
The hospital was quiet that afternoon. It had emptied with most everyone gettting a head start to their long weekend. I settled in and set up my belongings.
Before dinner, Samar and I took a usual spin around the hospital in the kid cars from the 3rd floor. We passed the train display, patient care unit after patient care unit, the chapel, the radiology unit, the market cafe. We made our usual u-turn at the end of the hall which led to an exit to the open air. Unfortunately, she can’t step outside of the hospital through the duration of her treatment. The ongoing construction and potential danger of mold in the air prevents her from doing so. It could compromise her immunity. So as she points to the driveway beyond the glass windows and whispers, “Outside,” I tell her, as usual, “It’s too cold to go outside Sissy,” despite the 90 degree weather she can’t feel from inside the hospital. Thankfully, she’s accepting of my excuse and we go on our way. We cut through the market cafe on our way back up to the 3rd floor. We return the kid car, “wash hands” with the anti-bacterial dispenser we always pass right before we head back down the elevators to the oncology unit.
Dinner that night was braised short ribs and rice. She’s usually particular about texture, but amazingly, she ate it without pause. After dinner, she watches a little Barney, a little Caillou. Before getting hooked back onto her IV, she takes her bedtime meds. She rinses her mouth with her pink swab and we get ready for her shower. Every night is careful practice with aqua guards and the occasional Saran wrap, to masterfully cover her port dressing to not get it wet. A shower is a quick body wash and shampoo of half of her head. I can’t even shampoo the top of her head anymore for fear of accidentally wetting her port dressing. I dress her for bed and she’s back in her crib and hooked up to her IV for the night. Every night, she gets her vitals checked twice before morning. Sometimes she manages through it, and sometimes I get, “Mommmm,” as my alarm to jump out of bed and get to her bedside. But she’s gotten so used to the routine since being admitted and those alarms come a little less nowadays.
Our Saturday morning includes breakfast, some Frozen, and an early stroll around the hospital halls. We repeat the same route as Friday’s passing by the same train display, patient care units, the chapel, the radiology unit and the market cafe. We make our usual u-turn at the end of the hall right after she points outside again. We return to her room and live out the rest of our day with some singing, playing with building blocks, walking around the oncology unit, a little more Caillou, a lot more Barney, a bit of Frozen. And of course, we tuned into the Thunder vs. Warriors Game 6 to root for our team. Our day ends with our usual bedtime routine.
Our Sunday consists of more of the same as the morning prior. Today is a little livelier with a visit from their cousins, Jayce and Kennedy, Auntie and Uncle. Daddy, big bro, baby bro and Mamita also come to visit.
Our Memorial Day Monday morning is identical but with visits from Mamita and friends. Another visit from Grumpa Noel, Grumma Jessie, and her Uncle, as well as more cousins, Tito and Ninang.
Aside from the delightful visits with family and friends, our weekend seemed pretty routine. And it’s become that way over the last month since she was first admitted. Since then, she’s adjusted to hospital life. Administering medication, taking blood pressure or temperature readings aren’t as much of an uphill battle. Most days when a nurse comes in for vitals and asks which arm to wrap the blood pressure cuff onto, she happily raises an arm. More cooperation and less protest. And thanfkfully, when I tell her, “Okay Sissy, time for medicine,” it’s met with less kicking and screaming as she obliges and simply opens her mouth ready for me to empty the little syringe. Prior to that, Daddy had devised a system with an apple juice chaser and a Hi-Chew to motivate her. Glad that some of those days are behind us. She’s also grown accustomed to wearing her mask. I worried about this one for awhile, knowing full well she wouldn’t be tolerant of it. But when she says, “Mask on,” it’s her way of saying, “Let’s go outside and take a walk.” And boy does she get excited when we get ready to leave her room. You would think this girl was headed to Disneyland! It’s cute, funny, a little sad, but heartwarming all at the same time that the simplest activity of leaving her room and wandering the hospital could make her so joyful.
We enjoyed some quality time especially after getting in bed. A couple nights she spent with me in the hospital fold out. She was silly and playful most of the time — energetic too. Sometimes I’d fall asleep on her and she’d tap my face and say, “Mommm.” I’d wake up to her tiny little face and huge round eyes close up to mine. There she was with a funny face and huge smile staring back at me. We’d both giggle at her goofiness. Sometimes she would just caress my face and look at me. So much personality in that tiny body.
It wasn’t how I would typically have dreamt up spending a long weekend, but it was one of my best well-spent stretches with her in the hospital. She’s come such a long way and adapted to her new normal. I’m so proud of our Samar and how truly brave she has come to endure through the beginning of this journey.
Long weekends are meant for spending quality time and making memories. And this was one Memorial Weekend getaway I won’t soon forget.
Photo credit: Carisa Realiza