By: Wills Porter
Twenty-one years ago, I received my life-saving transplant. Ever since then, I have been to hundreds of doctor appointments and spent a large amount of time in the hospital. As much as I love being home, I also have come to love the hospital. You may be wondering why I would say this. Allow me to explain.
When I was a child, I had quite an experience navigating school. While I had exceptional teachers and administrators that helped me, I struggled with living between two polar opposite environments. Whenever I went to my medical appointments, I had others around me who were focused on helping me be the healthiest I could possibly be. These doctors and nurses were incredible and showed a genuine interest in my wellbeing. On the other hand, adjustment from the hospital to the school environment was a major challenge. Compared to my time in the hospital, my time in school was significantly harder. At that age, I was different. At that age, being different is not always a good thing. After a few years in school, I began looking forward to my transplant clinic days. Here I would be in a place that was more comfortable than the school setting.
Growing up I loved going to my liver clinic visits. Even though these visits involved driving over an hour to my appointment and staying all day at the hospital, these days are by far one of the greatest memories I have a child. Why was this? Afterall, who wants to voluntarily ride in a car for over an hour, go through Atlanta traffic and stay all day at a hospital? As an adult, these are the things you think about. You think about the time commitment it takes to consistently go to medical appointments. However, as a child the traveling and long hours at the hospital did not bother me. In fact, I looked forward to each clinic visit. When I wen to clinic I got to see all my awesome doctors and transplant team. At the same time, this was a day I did not have to go to school. This meant I got a break from the battlefield of school. This was my escape. When I went to my clinic appointment, I was around doctors and fellow transplant warriors who knew my story. Going to clinic also put me around people my age who knew the struggles of the transplant journey. These peers knew the struggles of the transplant journey firsthand. I guess you could say that transplant clinic was my escape. Over the years, the hospital has gone from being an escape to a second home.
I recently had a conversation with one of my friends about why I considered he hospital to be my second home. In having this conversation, I know that many people may think I am weird for taking this view. After having this conversation, I was led to write some of my thoughts about the conversation and ultimately to write this post.
A Second Home
I know what you are thinking. Why would anyone in their right mind love a hospital to view the environment as a second home? You see, for me liver clinic was the one of the few times I felt like I belonged in this world. In many ways, I think this is what every kid wants in life. to feel accepted for who they are. If you don’t get this in school, you look for it in other places. For me, I ultimately found what I was looking for in the hospital. Now, you may be wondering who in their right mind would enjoy being in a hospital. Afterall, few people go to the hospital because things are going well. For many people, the hospital can be a place of pain and discomfort. To many you may the hospital is the last place to find peace and security. However, I am someone who found acceptance, peace and joy while in the hospital. The reason for this is three-fold. The main reason I found the hospital to be a second home was because my liver clinic days provided a break from the challenges I faced in school. At liver clinic no one was saying vindictive things to me. At liver clinic I didn’t feel like I had to prove myself to anyone. This leads to my second reason for why I came to view the hospital as a home. That is, I was accepted for who I was and didn’t have to explain my medical situation to anyone. In elementary school I would get questions about my scar or about my stature or my tendency to be full of energy. However, when I was in clinic I never got any of these questions. My doctors and the fellow transplant warriors I saw at clinic were always kind, genuine and welcoming. My doctors knew the struggles I had been through and some of the other patients at clinic were facing much more challenging medical circumstances. Even though clinic wasn’t the outside world, I wished it was. To me, the hospital had become like a second home for me.
Some will read this post and question how someone could come to view the hospital as a second home. If you are someone who has never faced major health challenges, you may never understand this feeling. I hope you never have to experience the major life circumstances that lead you to view the day to day operations of a hospital as normal. I know that the life events I have experienced are not normal. Yet, it is through these non-typical life circumstances that I have come to understand the real meaning of life. These life circumstances have also led me to view the hospital differently than others. Many who have never spend a great deal of time in the hospital view the environment as a prison. In this view, the hospital is a restrictive place that is void of hope. On the contrary, I view the hospital environment as a pasture. In this pasture you are free to roam and you have freedom to take advantage of the little victories. You also are able to take hope in the small victories. To me, the beautiful thing about me being in the hospital is that I can be someone who can provide hope to those who need it most. This is called thriving where planted and thriving despite life circumstances. I tis my hope that you too may adopt this view. Not that you would ignore the challenges medical circumstances may look at life’s challenges with a fresh perspective.