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A Sterilized Room and Stupid Green Paper

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It was Halloween. Dad had been sick for a few days, so my mom was going to take me trick or treating (even though I was 13). Dad had been really sick lately, and when I had visited him last he had a temperature of 103 degrees. I urged him to go to the hospital. But Dad has this thing about hospitals. When he was 15, his kidney failed, and the doctors almost didn’t catch it in time. He almost died. So they hooked him up to a machine that was supposed to clean his blood until he could get a kidney. He didn’t go to high school for two years because he was too sick to. And the machines made you really nauseous, so he spent a lot of the time almost vomiting. So he said that he wasn’t going to the hospital. That he was fine. That he would brush it off. Not being able to convince him, I went back to Mom’s house. It was Halloween when I got the text. Admitted at UCLA, sorry I can’t take you trick or treating, sweetie. I felt relief. I thought, good. He got over his fear. But I didn’t realize the extent of how sick he was. I spent all of Halloween night happy, trick or treating with my friend. We got bags of candy, and showed pieces to our parents, and they let us eat some.

A few days passes before Mom and I knew what was going on. He was still in the hospital, and we couldn’t get any information out of my grandma; she was hysterical. Finally, my aunts came up to see Dad, and my mom saw that as a bad sign. After all, why would they fly all the way from Minnesota and Texas, when we lived in California? My mom called the aunt who was a nurse and asked her what was going on. We found out that the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him. After hearing this, I got upset. How could they not know what was wrong? Wasn’t it their job to figure it out and fix it? We heard from my aunt that she thought I should come up to say goodbye. What? My throat got tight and my heart stopped. Why? How could that happen so fast? What- he just had a cough and a fever one day! Don’t we have modern medicine? Stem-cell research? How could they not fix him, or know what’s wrong. That led to me thinking about the doctors. I bet they’re having an interesting lecture based off of him. Looking at him like some kind of animal to do tests on, not sure of what’s wrong. My mom arranged for me to go see him. She wasn’t going to go. So my grandpa drove me, and seeing L.A. didn’t bring it’s usual cheer and amazement. The sky was overcast, and I just saw all gray. Gray buildings, gray sky, gray sidewalk. As I got to the hospital, we were directed to the I.C.U- Intensive Care Unit. The windows to the door that would lead you into the I.C.U. had black laced over the window; it looked more like a prison to me.

I stepped into the I.C.U and found my dad on the first door to the right, right next to the nurse’s station, so they could keep an eye on him. My aunt came out, with bags under her eyes, and she led me through the process of going through the double air-locked doors, putting a gown on, things on top of my shoes, gloves, goggles, a mask, and a hair cap. I was moving sluggishly, unsure about all of this. It was just a fever and a cough. I walked in and saw my dad. He had tubes everywhere, needles in his arms, and a tube that went into his throat to keep air circulating. He didn’t look good. He was pale, and his normally shaven face was covered with a beard. It was weird; I almost didn’t recognize him. So I sat with him and talked to him, and when I touched his arm, his foot twitched. So I asked my grandma if I could get some alone time with him, so I could say my goodbyes. Politely, I asked. And she said no. What? No!? I’m trying to say my freaking goodbyes! You horrible- I glared at her, then turned back to Dad and willed him to wake up. Wake up, wake up. Can’t you defend me against your mother? Don’t you want to say, “Let her say goodbye to me.” Don’t you want to defend me? Come on, Dad, come on, you can be ok. But nothing. So I was left to whisper goodbyes in his ear, because I didn’t want my grandmother to hear. They were personal things. So when I was done, my grandma followed me to the air locked chambers to try and help me out of the stupid green paper. She made a move to help me, but I shot away from her into my aunt. So my aunt helped me get out of the stupid green paper. As we were waiting for the first door to close so I could get out the second, my grandma made a move to open the door before the air was sterilized. The nurse made a, “Wow you’re stupid” expression. I smiled at the nurse. Finally, when we could get out, my grandma went back into the room with my dad, and I stalked out of the I.C.U., boiling in rage. I screamed curses at my grandma in my head.

Thankfully, my dad pulled himself out of it a month later. He stayed a total of a month and two days in the I.C.U. After being inactive for so long, he had to walk with a walker for a week or so. We found out later what had plagued him. His kidney had started failing after 30 years of good use. They were only supposed to last 15 or 20 years. And on top of the kidney failing, he had gotten the H1N1 flu, and it spread into his lungs, giving him pneumonia. I can thankfully say my dad is still alive and waiting for a kidney transplant. I can never forgive my grandma for what she did, but I can still spend time with my Dad. So, for that I’m grateful.



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