My heart was beating rapidly against my chest, as I was getting out of my sister’s car. I was visiting my dad once again for the third or fourth time after he was first admitted a month ago. I looked down at my feet, as I took extremely small steps toward the front of the hospital doors thinking about what he would look like.
The sterile white walls were breathing on my face, into one of the darkest and narrowest hallways of my life. As we rode the elevator, I prayed it would slow down, even stop, because I knew my eyes were going to overflow with tears the second I saw him. My hands filled with sweat as we exited the elevator. Reaching for the doorknob, my hands were shaking. When I finally twisted it, the door creaked open.
He was sitting on his bed, and I examined him. Seeing how unhealthy and different he looked hurt my soul. He was getting skinnier; you could see his ribs piercing through his skin, his voice raspier, and he looked so pale. There were many tubes going in and out of his body. His eyes looked dull, his body weak. He said some days he couldn’t even get out of the hospital bed.
I spent sleepless nights that summer looking at the ceiling, thinking about what would happen to him, wondering if he would get better. I never really saw my parents much that summer, but I understood why. My mother didn’t want to leave his bedside. And my dad appreciated it — both my mom’s love and his favorite nurse’s care.
The nurses weren’t all so great though — and the moment I found out about the incident, made me angry and upset and it changed my life. It happened during one of the times my mom went home to cook. My mom said she learned from my dad that while a new nurse was on duty, she treated him badly. This woman threw a pair of hospital socks to my dad’s face and told him he put it on himself. She continued to say he wasn’t dead yet so he could change his own blood bag and clothes and check his own temperature. She was tormenting my very sick father — a patient she was getting paid to care for. He was upset and yelled at her to get out and send in another nurse.
I am so glad he stood up for himself — especially for an older Hmong man who didn’t speak English very well. Our entire family was upset. My mom complained formally to the hospital. I wanted to go a second time.
I watched my mother care and love my father during his most miserable time in life. And tell him he will be safe and that he will get better. I also appreciate the people who choose to be nurses because the good ones were an example of being responsible for our most loved family members, they are compassionate and sympathetic to their patients’ well-being. My dad’s favorite nurse had long conversations with him, she joked around with him and even take him out on his wheelchair for walks inside the hospital.
Because of this, my mom and some of the nurses inspired me to become a nurse. They’re my role models. Even the one nurse who failed to treat my father kindly, taught me something: I would do my best for patients and families who are already suffering to stay positive and that I will do all I can to make sure the patient goes home and is healthy.
Three months later, my dad was discharged. He’s back to his old self: laughing and being goofy. He’s energetic, and the sparkle in his eyes returned.