Walking down the hallway stepping on the endless numbers of white tiles, Dani felt nerves emanate throughout her small body. The potent medical scent filled her nostrils as she traveled deeper and deeper into the hospital. “1, 2, 3,” she thought as her eyes strayed upward, and she started to count the ceiling squares. Dani was trying to distract herself from what was really happening, but she could not seem to stop the dozens of questions flowing through her mind. “What will it feel like?” “Will it hurt?” “Will the nurses be nice?” There were so many unknowns, and they were all going to become clear in only a few minutes.
Rounding the corner of the hallway for the first time, Dani stayed close to her mom as they stepped up to the reception desk. “You can write your name down and we’ll call you back when we’re ready for you,” explained the friendly woman standing behind the desk. She continued, “feel free to take a seat in the waiting area.” Dani’s nerves began to multiply. She knew that her first appointment was about to begin.
Dani’s mom led her to the couches, and they both sat down in silence. Her mom let Dani rest her head on her shoulder as they sat, and awaited Dani’s name to be called. Looking around the waiting room, Dani could see children of all ages waiting for their names to be called. All of them were waiting to get their treatment. She could see smiling faces of children just like her, and also noticed the faces of the sick. Dani knew that in only a short amount of time, she would experience the sickness that they had.
“Dani?” the nurse tentatively muttered. It was the moment Dani was dreading. She looked at her mother and they both started walking toward the nurse. Small talk echoed back and forth with Dani’s mom and the nurse as they made their way to the examining room at the end of the hallway. The hallway was filled with pictures of patients, and drawings that former patients made. It gave the hospital life within the stark whiteness. As the three reached the exam room, the nurse took Dani’s temperature and blood pressure. Dani soon learned that the taking of her vitals at every visit would be her new routine. Dani was getting the first taste of what her life would be like now. The hospital would become her second home.
Sitting on the uncomfortable examining table, Dani could not keep still. Sounds of paper being wrinkled flooded the hallway as Dani tossed and turned on the paper that she was sitting on. Silence only came when Dani’s doctor came in the room. The doctor was a familiar face, but Dani was still scared.
The treatment that Dani was about to begin was explained earlier at diagnosis. She accepted her fate and when the doctor began her explanation of the day’s events, she knew it was her new norm. As normal as it was to Dani, she still could not believe that this was actually happening to her. She looked around and saw elephants and tigers on the circus border that lined the ceiling. Dani took note of all the reminders of happiness in a place that has caused so much sadness to patients and families.
As Dani started paying attention to her doctor, she saw the comfort in her caretaker’s eyes. Almost as if her eyes were shining stars, Dani could see the passion that her doctor had for her job, and could tell that she was never going to be alone in this journey. A burst of confidence led Dani through the rest of the conversation with her doctor and mother. Dani knew that this was her life now; hospital visits, treatment, repeat.
“Follow me,” asked Dani’s compassionate doctor. The three of them left
the examining room, and traveled further and further down the hallway making turns in a maze of the unknown. Dani kept strong in her mind as she clutched her mother’s gentle hand.
Finally as they all rounded the last corner, Dani entered a room that read “Day Hospital.” She was told that this is where she would get her treatment every week. The room seemed cozy and private. As Dani was placed in a blue reclining chair, she was given a warm blanket. A nurse walked up to Dani with a smile on her face. She was an older woman with wrinkles that complimented her face. A nametag that read Barb could be seen on the right pocket of her Scooby-Doo scrubs. While introductions were being made, Dani could see the needles Barb was holding. “Nothing good comes along with needles,” Dani thought to herself.
“Look away and I will count to three,” Barb whispered to Dani as she then placed an IV in Dani’s left hand. A grimace shot across Dani’s face but
she was a strong girl, and tried to keep positive. Once the IV was in, Barb left the room and Dani had alone time with her mom for a few minutes. The two talked as if it was a normal day at home. Dani’s mom was trying to be strong for her daughter, but on the inside the pain was overwhelming. She never knew how brave her daughter was until this day, and she could never have been more proud of Dani.
Dani and her mother continued to talk lovingly when Barb entered with a pink bucket shining under the dull hospital lights. When she placed the bucket on the table next to Dani, a bag of bright red fluid could be seen. Barb started hooking the fluid up to the machine, and beeps rang out through the room. The delicate machine hung high above Dani’s head as she watched Barb press a countless amount of buttons. When the beeping stopped, Barb directed her attention to Dani. She explained what the red bag was, and what it was going to do. Barb slowly took the tube connected to
the medication bag, and attached it to Dani’s IV. When the clamp was unclipped by Barb, the dam that separated the white and red fluid crumbled in its place. The mighty red fluid flowed forward, and into Dani’s veins. Barb warned Dani’s mom that this particular drug was known to make patients nauseous. Barb left the shiny pink bucket and then walked over to a computer where she kept a protective eye on Dani.
As the drug surged through Dani’s body she felt warmth come over her. The warmth somehow provided comfort to Dani, but the comfort was soon replaced with discomfort. Dani’s mom continued to give her daughter encouragement when nausea suddenly came over Dani. The pink bucket was her savior as Dani gasped for air then started vomiting. Dani’s mom and Barb could only watch and console as they both rubbed Dani on the back. “You are doing so well sweetie,” Dani’s mom said with a tone of sadness. It was torture to see her daughter like this.