Today I went to work, like any other day. I made my french press (fun fact I’m a coffee nerd), I parked in the wrong spot (I’m really sorry security), and begrudgingly started my 6 shifts in a row so I can at least make an effort to possibly raise the money for this adoption. I set my coffee down, I waited in queue for my first patient. An ambulance arrived and my day started, just like any other.
Within a few minutes into my day I had a feeling it wasn’t off to a great start. I patted the patients hand and told her “It’s ok honey, you’re going to be alright.” Not 20 minutes after I reassured her, she was dead. That’s how fast life ends, minutes after you’re reassured it will be just fine. Losing a patient is hard enough, but holding the hand of her mother while she views her last baby’s body lying cold on a stretcher is an entirely different heartbreak. People tell us they don’t know how we do it, frankly I think most of the time, neither do we.
The thing you know immediately after losing a patient first thing in the morning is, no matter how many people tell you that you did a great job, you never feel like you did, and you sure don’t smell like you did either. The dread follows you through the day like a beggar stealing bits of your soul. Every time you blink your eyes, you see her face.
When I got home I was greeted by only three kids at the door. One met me literally on the porch, but I had a nice 1 minute delay for the others to be alerted. I heard stories of school, how our street was closed and the 4yr couldn’t be dropped off and the chase that ensued, and signed permission slips like it was my job, because it literally is. I washed laundry, I did dishes, and I sat at my computer to tirelessly brainstorm ideas on how I can bring my 6th child home, because I’m obviously not busy enough.
Meanwhile in Ukraine my daughter sits in a hospital. For the last 5 days she has been in a prison, no cell service to the outside world, no idea why she is there, and no plan on when she’ll leave. The only details I have are “I got sick and they sent me away to the hospital, the one I told you about.” She sends text messages, the messages cost $2.50 each.
“The ‘sanatorium’ is a horrible place, I don’t even want to tell you about. They are terrible to us, and the only food is bread with worms. We can’t eat while we are there. They hold us for long periods of time. I don’t even want to tell you what happens to us after this. It’s to horrible to mention” Alina tells me on a late July night. She expresses how much she would love to never go back to Ukraine just because of this. I reassure her American hospital is nothing like that.
My eyes burn after 18 hours. My mind races with the face of the patient I couldn’t save, her mother’s face as she heard us tell her that her daughter was dead, Alina’s broken voice telling me the dread of the place I know she’s locked up in. The world feels small and heartless. Why do I have windows into so much suffering.
How can I do this? Am I even being fair to her? Maybe I should put her back on the list so another family can host her. Is loosing your first family better than being failed by a woman who couldn’t pull it off? The doubt has settled in like the fog on the ocean. HELP BY CLICKING HERE
In 5 hours I’ll be getting up for another long day in the ER. I’ll smile and be cordial to you when you come in for your splinter, or wipe the tears from your mother’s eyes when she’s told bad news. I’ll do this because it is my job, because I can, therefore I should. You’ll have no idea the struggle I have as I think about my girl halfway across the world starving in a barbaric hospital. You won’t know my heart is heavy as I cancelled violin and piano lessons in order to save money to shunt toward a backwards adoption system. You’ll have no idea that I’m going to sit in my car and cry alone before walking into my house and being swarmed by children hungry for my attention. You won’t know, because it’s my job.
There are many things about me that I either can’t or won’t tell you. There are things I tell you overly minimized so you don’t feel sorry for me, pity is the last thing I want. I will tell you my heart is heavy in the struggle to know if I can save this girl. Can I can change the monster of human trafficking. Can I ever really accept “we did everything we could” when I look in a mother’s tearful eyes? Can I bear to look into Alina’s when I tell her we failed?
Tonight more than ever I have many more questions than I have answers. Although the truths may vary, only in the future can you see the pattern weaved by time. The people you meet, the ones you lose, it is all so clear in the future. These are the days I wish to be a time traveler. I always thought I was born too late, maybe I was actually born too early.