Hospital Colors

hospitalLast Thursday I sat in the Penrose Hospital Intensive Care Unit waiting room, then beside my husband’s bed in that unit and finally to his room on another floor. After that first very long day of tension waiting to hear the surgeon’s report, I’ve taken time to observe the people around me, from hospital staff to patients to visitors…

The wise doctor was first cautiously confident and then enthusiastically optimistic; not only is he a skilled surgeon, but he speaks honestly and with obvious care to family members and fellow staff.

Nurses—many who look like teenagers!—blend professionalism with gentle care and genuine interest. (I found one exception in this crew but maybe he was having a bad day!)

Physical therapists persistently and firmly encourage those under their care toward the goal of getting the patient “out-of-here-up-those-stairs-and-HOME”!

But it’s the patients’ friends and family members walking the long halls of the Intensive Care Unit who caught my attention. The elderly father and adult daughter hugging outside a room with tears soundlessly falling. I whisper a prayer for them and for the mother and wife whose condition grips their hearts. “Lord, may strength be their portion.”

The young man with unwashed hair, dusty ball cap, well-worn jeans and wrinkled plaid shirt obviously slept all night on one of the waiting room benches. He paces the floor with frequent long sighs. “Father, he seems so alone. Please give him rest.”

Family members cluster just outside a closed door and I hear the words “funeral” and “need to call” and “so unexpected.” Is their loved one’s breathing now so shallow that they foresee its ceasing? “Jesus, be their comfort.”

Forty-eight hours after surgery my husband was moved from that second floor unit to the ninth floor where his care is excellent but not as necessarily constant. This is a good transition because it means he continues to improve, and the horizons of my people watching has changed.

If attitudes and reactions were colors, Intensive Care colors would be muted, drab gray with the occasional pastel glimpse, colors resembling the possibility of both life and death. Up here I seem to see a rainbow, perhaps faint for some, but with the growing vibrancy of hope. One man, robed in his unflattering pastel hospital garment, practices his walking with head held high. If given the choice, he might want a red robe to represent his passionate goal of returning to full health. So many visitors exude the gold or yellow of friendship and joy. Nurses’ blue uniforms bring a sense of serenity and trust. And everywhere I turn, I discover hope.

From the beginning of time, the rainbow has signaled hope and promise. What better place to find it than here on the ninth floor where every small step forward toward health brings color. Pain and uncertainty are not disregarded but hope’s rainbow is painted everywhere the eye falls. From that actual Genesis rainbow to the rainbow words of Joshua—Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged—to Jesus’ Peace I leave with you, when I look for it, I see a rainbow. Even in the hospital.

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