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Real Talk, Part 1

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Usually I’m the kind of person who likes to have my ears open. I like to hear people coming, anticipate what’s around the corner. I can usually either tune out ambient noises, loud as they may be, and I can absorb my environment well enough to do whatever I need to do.

Hinda in the ER with Judah, wearing a mask and noise-cancelling headphones

Not here. Not today.

Today I’m in the ER at Children’s National with J, because he’s having pain near the incision site for his recent surgery. I’m hyper aware that just one year ago today and every day I was spending most of my waking hours in this building, just six floors up in the NICU with Ronen.

This summer, J had an emergency appendectomy, for which we were back in the hospital through the ER twice, and another surgery for bilateral inguinal hernias discovered during the first surgery.

Each time we've come to the ER we’ve been put in the same “bay” of three beds. During one such visit, a baby was the bed next to us, just beyond a curtain. As a crew of doctors and nurses worked together to do a procedure on the screaming infant, J asleep in the bed waiting to be treated (how did he sleep through that??), I sat rocking and crying and plugging my ears as I experienced a vivid flashback of the last minutes of Ronen’s life as I watched a fleet of medical professionals “run a code” on my dying infant.

Today, I could feel my eyes readying my tear ducts as I smelled the distinct garage smell when we rolled in. The first minutes we were here I tried the best I could to focus on J’s doctor through the beeping, the sound of screaming infants, the sliding of carts and the patter of medical professionals.

Today, I’m grateful that before this morning’s family excursion to a park I remembered to throw my noise-cancelling headphones in my satchel. I’m watching J, who is right now calmly watching Dinosaur Train on his Kindle, but I can’t hear anything, blessedly, through my “My Fight Songs” playlist. As a nurse comes by to check J’s vitals, I hear that a trauma is incoming in 10 minutes to the ER. With headphones in my ears I can’t hear anything outside of my head. The nurses and doctors coming to treat J look at best confused and at worst judgmental about the headphones. Let them... unless they’re willing to move us to a private/soundproof room, the self-imposed deafness is the only thing keeping me together at this moment.

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