From ICU to Intern
July 8, 2015
Topics: Riley Staff Profiles
The start of a new job or internship is monumental for most young adults. It is filled with meeting new people, learning lots of new information and getting used to working in a new office environment. The beginning of my summer as a Communications Intern for Riley Children’s Foundation contained all of these things, along with a tour of Riley Hospital for Children led by Dr. Schreiner.
While the tour was interesting and eye-opening for the other new hires and interns, including myself, it was special for me on a personal level. It was almost exactly five years prior that I was being admitted to the Hematology/Oncology floor at Riley for an unexpected leukemia diagnosis. The tour of the hospital brought back a flood of memories for me.
Each and every hallway, floor and space reminded me of a moment that I experienced as a cancer patient at Riley. The outside fountain areas reminded me of the rare times during my many long inpatient stays that I was well enough to venture out with my IV pole to enjoy the sunshine. The atrium looked different to me now than it did when I was sick, mainly because I was walking on my own instead of being pushed in a wheelchair.
As we entered the new part of the hospital with the Simon Family Tower, I thought about when I was rolled down in my hospital bed to receive countless MRIs and CTs, barely strong enough to turn my head and open my eyes to see the magnificent photographs of the wild animals in Africa that line some of the hallways.
We passed the Magic Castle Cart while walking through the Hem/Onc floor. Even though my age ranged from 18-20 during the years I was in treatment, I always enjoyed when the Magic Castle was rolled onto the floor. I would joke with the cheerful volunteers handing out toys to see if they had anything for someone my age. I usually ended up giving my stuffed animals to the younger kids I made friends with, but it always brightened my day, no matter how bad I was feeling.
Throughout the tour, we passed many doctors, nurses, and staff members hurrying about their busy day. Dr. Loder, the surgeon who amputated my leg when I was near death in the ICU, passed the tour group quickly. I smiled and waved, knowing he probably didn’t recognize me since when I had last seen him I looked like a completely different person, hooked up to a ventilator and kidney dialysis, fighting for each and every breath.
I spotted one of my wound nurses walking outside. Most of check-ups now involve running into the nurses and doctors who cared for me, and usually involves a lot of smiling, hugging, and catching up on what I’ve been doing lately. For me, it’s like seeing an old friend or family member.
The Riley Outpatient Center made me appreciate not having to spend the entire day in an exam-room due to a chemo infusion that would take several hours. For almost two-and-a-half years, my mom and I would make a three and a half-hour trip weekly to Indianapolis from Evansville to visit the outpatient clinic. As we ended the tour and I walked back to my car, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I was grateful to be well enough to walk, to drive myself, and to be cancer free. Most of all, I felt blessed to be starting a new, different kind of journey with Riley as an intern.
The tour reminded me of how much hope and inspiration Riley Hospital is filled with. I am so thankful to continue to be a part of this special organization.
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