medical · slice of life

Would you like the funny story or the serious one?

Before I begin, I want to let you know I’m intentionally being vague. If you have read this blog through the years, then you know I don’t disclose my children’s medical information publicly. Therefore, I’ll tell you that Isabelle had a planned procedure at the hospital today. It went well.

THE SERIOUS STORY FIRST (It’s been hanging from my heart all day.)

Isabelle could’ve walked out of the hospital on her own two feet, but she insisted on a wheelchair because she had one last time… the time she couldn’t amble out on her own.

“I’m not going to wait 20 minutes for transport to come when you’re perfectly fine to walk,” I told her.

That’s when the nurse rolled up with a wheelchair.

“Here you go, Miss Isabelle,” he said.

“How did it come so fast?” I asked.

“You’re doing the wheeling. Unless you want to wait for transport.”

“No, I’ll wheel her out.”

Isabelle squealed with delight as she hopped into the seat.

“Hold my purse and this folder,” I told her as I handed Isabelle my things. “I may be your transport, but I’m not the schlepper.”

She groan-giggled and took my belongings. We said our goodbyes to the nurse and walked town the hall to the elevator.

Once we reached the lobby, I overheard beautiful music. “I think that’s a harp,” I told Isabelle.

“What’s a harp?” she asked.

The top of the harp caught my eye. “I’ll show you,” I said wheeling her into the lobby.

We listened for a few moments and then the harpist reached the end of the song.

“What do you think?” I asked her.

“I like it,” she replied.

“Would you like to listen to more?” I asked.

Isabelle nodded as the harpist began plucking his instrument. I wheeled her over to a some couches. Before I could put the brake on the wheelchair, Isabelle hopped up and sat down on the couch, tossing my purse on the empty seat.

My breath caught in my throat as I listened to the music because the harpist was playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Tears welled up in my eyes as my mind flooded with thoughts. If the results of today’s procedure turn out as the doctor expects, then Hallelujah will be the word to express the level of gratitude I have. I wrapped my arm around Isabelle, whose Hebrew name praise. “Praise” and “hallelujah” are essentially the same. So there I was, hugging my daughter while listening to gorgeous music in a hospital lobby. Then I thought about the Cohen tune, which is one of Ari’s favorites for me to sing to him at night (though I sing the tune with the words to L’cha Dodi). All of those things — plus a lack of sleep — led to me crying.

“What are you doing?” Isabelle asked as she stared at me in shock. “Why are you crying?”

“Because, I’m just so happy you’re so much healthier today than the last time you had this procedure done. You were so, so sick last time. I think your medicine is helping.”

“You’re crying because you’re happy?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Why would you cry when you’re happy?”

“Sometimes that happens to adults. Adults cry when they’re happy,” I sniffled.

“You have black stuff under your eyes,” she pointed out.

“Mascara?” I asked.

“Yeah, mascara. It’s running down your face,” she said. And with that, she went back to listening to the end of the song leaving me to search for a tissue in my purse that was sitting in the empty wheelchair seat.

NOW, THE FUNNY STORY (which took place about 45 minutes earlier)

“What would you like to eat?” the nurse asked Isabelle. He listed the choices which included everything from graham crackers to Goldfish to applesauce to ice cream.

“Chocolate ice cream please,” she replied.

“Good choice,” he replied.

“Do you have marshmallows?” she asked.

I looked at him apologetically. “She thinks this is an ice cream shoppe.”

“No, I don’t think we have any marshmallows,” the nurse replied.

“How about sprinkles?” Isabelle asked. “I’d like some rainbow sprinkles.”

“Are you kidding me?!!? They have ice cream. No sprinkles.”

That’s when the nurse interrupted me and answered Isabelle. “I think we may have some chocolate sprinkles. Would you like those?”

“Yeah, okay. I’d really like rainbow though,” she said.

I shot her a take-what-they-have look and Isabelle said, “Chocolate sprinkles are fine.”

The nurse disappeared in the back and reappeared two minutes later with a plastic spoon and a cup of ice cream.

“We’re not the greatest ice cream shop in town,” he shrugged. “I have ice cream, but no sprinkles.” He handed the ice cream to Isabelle. I was grateful she thanked him rather than complaining about the hospital’s lack of toppings.


18 thoughts on “Would you like the funny story or the serious one?

  1. I can’t choose between these stories – they both pull hard on the heartstrings, even with the humor (for there’s bittersweet humor in a child’s insisting on a wheelchair as well as chocolate sprinkles in a hospital). What I think of as I read, marveling at the resilience and aplomb of children, moved by your response to hearing the song and even the medical staff’s reaction to Isabelle’s requests, is the balance of emotion that’s needed to tell a story well. Which you’ve done so deftly here, twice. It’s like riding the ocean waves, rising and falling … much continued grace to you and yours.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind words, Fran.

      BTW: The medical staff at the hospital was amazing. They always are. We are fortunate to have such amazing care.

  2. Both stories give us a glimpse into what a strong girl your daughter is, and what a strong relationship the two of you have. I love the power that music plays in the first piece. It reminds me of a story I have about my own daughter when she was in the hospital. Music can bring forward such strong emotions. I really enjoyed both stories. I hope your Isabelle is doing well. It’s so hard when a child is struggling with her health.

  3. Glad she’s feeling better this time than last. My son sprained a toe and was so excited to be given a wheelchair in the emergency room! I guess that’s what happens for kids who are there very, very temporarily.

    1. And when you’re in the hospital with your kid, you’re acutely aware — especially if it isn’t major — just how lucky you are to be there for a finite moment in time.

  4. These are both real slices of life with children both funny in their own ways and both poignant in their own ways. Glad she is on the mend and hope you have rainbow sprinkles in the house

  5. Oh, both stories touch my heart! These are the moments. Thankful to hear Isabelle’s procedure went well! I’m guessing she will get her rainbow sprinkles soon! 🙂

  6. All days have more than one slice. I am glad you chose to share two with us. Some moments play on the strings of heart. Some moments sprinkle laughter.

  7. I am struck by your framing here. The serious story is more serious because of that introduction, but there are moments of real humour in it, moments that make the deep emotion stand out all the more. And the funny story takes place in such a serious setting that, funny as it is, the undercurrent is decidedly tense. Together, these stories reveal your own mixed emotions, and they show a little girl who is taking on all of life with a strong sense of self. I hope the tests turned out as you hope; I hope the hallelujah lingers.

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