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GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

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THE VIGIL |

April 25, 2007

THE VIGIL
Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 4/25/07
Stationed in: a military hospital
Email: clarahart2@yahoo.com

I must have passed him a dozen times in the hallway. A handsome but tired-looking man, dark hair, although more gray than black, casually dressed. Never too far from the ICU doors or the ICU waiting room. Always standing by the windows, notebook lying on the windowsill, writing notes or talking on his cell phone. As I strode past I'd hear snippets of his conversations:

"He's doing okay."

"He's had some setbacks today."

"Hello beautiful, I needed to hear your voice and get a bit of encouragement."

"Either my daughter or I try to send out a daily email telling everyone how he is."

"We're not sure what will happen now."

He must have a family member in the ICU, probably injured in OIF, I deduced. This man who kept vigil at the windows was always there. If I came to work at 0630 I saw him, when I went to lunch at 1400, he stood guard at his makeshift post, and when I left for the day at 1930, he remained behind keeping watch.

Yesterday as I walked past yet again, I heard him start another of his phone conversations. "Oh...I'm sorry...you haven't heard...Today is day 18 at the hospital. My Marine son is in the ICU after being injured in Iraq. It hasn't been easy...It's been touch and go. Hell, it's still touch and go. He's had some setbacks, but we're hopeful."

Today as I turned the corner, heading to the locker room, the man at the window was gone. So used to seeing him, I glanced around the hallway, in the ICU doors, and the small alcove of the ICU waiting room, all to no avail. He was not there. As I changed my clothes and gathered my things I sent a prayer heaven bound for the man at the window and his Marine son.

Leaving the locker room I turned the corner to head to the parking garage. As I did, I saw him come out of the ICU, notebook in hand, and head over to the windows, dialing his cell phone, his vigil continuing.

Comments

This story gave me goosebumps... A heartwarming story, and this is what is starting my day... Sad, that a father's son is in ICU, but wonderful that the son has a father who won't leave his side... Thanks for sharing... God bless...

A year and a half ago my own son was in the hospital with a brain injury. The bedside vigil is a lonely, scary place. I hope this young man recovers and that his father's faithfulness and support are rewarded. I'll be thinking about this story for the rest of the day. Thank you for sharing it and reminding us that the families fight right alongside their military members.

Crap, 200 words and you made a grown man tear up.
"There but for the grace of god go I"

Crap, 200 words and you made a grown man tear up.
"There but for the grace of god go I"

Good for him. My son had open heart surgery. Best doctor I ever met. Said he generally didn't like other doctors. I liked him for that alone.

I remember, two years ago, looking at the bedside clock, my wife asleep in the chair by the bed. The clock said 0243. I was holding the O2 canula under my sons nose because he couldn't sleep with the 'fighter jock' mask on his face. The staff, rightly, couldn't spare anyone to just stand over one patient, so we did it ourselves. My arms were tired, I wondered what the Hell I was doing up at this hour, and my teenage son never looked less offensive or more vulnerable.

Watching the O2 sensor, striving for 90%, 92%, 95% full (100%) blood saturation, moving the tube so it went straight to his face. He brushed at it in his sleep. I pulled back so I wouldn't wake him. 92%, 88%, 86%, I had to get the canula back under his nose. 90%, 92%, he looked like second place in an axe fight, 95%, 97%. He stirred again. I watched the hoses and tubes running in and out of him. I'd gently tug at them, straightening them so that, like some exotic machine, all the leads faired smoothly along their appropriate paths.

Eventualy, although there is something about night watches that makes them seem like forever, I could see the glow of morning reflected off the buildings. My wife stirred awake, the nurse started her morning rounds, and life, and death went on inside the ICU.

Our kid made it. Others didn't. The wonder was that any of them made it. Surgery is so advanced and techincal, one slip and you're done. But now ours is up and around, wowing the girls, sluffing off on chores, and generally showing all the right and wrong signs of growing up.

I'm sure he would have made it with the ICU staff alone. But I'm proud to say I stood one of the most important mids of my life in that ICU

Welcome back Clara and thanks......

Thank you for noticing that father, and for caring for the sons and daughters who end up in the hospital. I often think of those vigil keeping parents and spouses when I get the names of the dead...some noting "Died today at _____Medical Center of wounds sustained in _____Iraq in November 2006" I think of the long hard fight for life that was suddenly over. And I think of people like you who watch and help fight that battle every day...and thank whatever Gods may be that you are there!

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