Places of Comfort

There is a room in the very back of the cardiac ICU nicknamed the sad room because that's where the doctors bring people to give them bad news.

"I'm sorry the surgery did not go as planned."

"We did everything we could."

"Your child is too sick to survive transplant."

Sadness is not the only emotion associated with this room, it's just the most jarring. It's a quiet room with floor-to-ceiling windows and filled with minimalist chairs and couches. At the end of July, we sat in the sad room with the cardiologist as he told us that Ezra's heart was failing and he needed a transplant. Within a week he was listed in the top slot.

We began to spend time in this room when it seemed like everything was too much to handle. The solitude and emptiness of this room made it feel the only place to find peace on the cardiac ICU floor. It was in the sad room on the day of Ezra's transplant that we got to tell our friend Josie, who had been with us to provide palliative care since before Ezra's birth, that Ezra would be going into surgery because a heart had become available.

Before dawn the very next morning we met there with the transplant surgeon who assured us that the surgery had gone very well, that the new heart was pumping strongly, and that Ezra was doing just fine.

We haven't been back up to that floor since discharge, despite being at the hospital all the time for clinic. Last week we went to pick up a prescription and wandered back up there to see if any of our old friends were up there. To get there from the pharmacy, we used to go up to level seven, then across the sky bridge and down the Owl elevators to the level six cardiac ICU. We've only been gone two months and already things are starting to change. The Owl elevators are no more - they have been re-branded as the Rabbit elevators; owls are sometimes associated with death. There's a definite feeling that we're putting distance between us and all that time at the hospital. It's weird to visit the cardiac ICU with a clinic badge instead of an inpatient badge. It's weird to see strangers in the parents lounge, sleep deprived and eating really terrible and depressing meals. It's weird to look down the hall and see our cardiac ICU nurses working with other people and too busy to stop and say hi to us.

It's weird to be able to walk out of there and not come back the next day.