Thoughts from a Hospital Room on Thanksgiving

As I sit here writing this, I can look out the window beside me and see a view that I could never afford to see on my own. From up high, traffic rolls through Washington Heights. As I shift my gaze to the left, the concrete streets transition to the woods of a park with the bright reds, yellows, and oranges of fall. Just beyond the park, the George Washington Bridge towers over the Hudson River which flows until it is out of view.

I guess this is why people want to live in Manhattan.

As I shift my gaze from what lies out the window to what lies in it, the color palette shifts from the bright colors of fall to the muted whites, blues, and grays of bedsheets, machinery, and hospital gowns. My mother sits by the window in a chair eating pastries. I sit at the table and type away on my computer. And my father lies in the hospital bed sleeping after eating breakfast.

This isn’t how Thanksgiving was supposed to be.

You see, on Sunday evening, after dinner, my dad had a stroke. The story isn’t glamorous. My dad, who had been nursing a cold all week, was fixing the toilet. The water wasn’t going down the way it should have and it was taking a little longer than usual to fix. When my brother went to check up on him, my dad was frustrated, but fine. A minute later, when my mom went to check on him, he was disoriented, slurring his speech, and unable to gather any strength on his right side. From the moment that my mom called me over to now, my life has been a bit of a blur.

To be honest, it still kind of is.

I did some reading while I’ve been here at the hospital. Most strokes happen, about 87% of them, when a blood clot forms in the brain and cuts off the flow of blood and oxygen to it. My dad isn’t most people. He had a hemorrhagic stroke which means that one of the blood vessels in his brain ruptured, causing bleeding in his brain. The fatality rate of this type of stroke? Ranges from 30% to 60%. But if I’m being honest, this only took five minutes of research. Most of the time I’ve been watching Netflix using my friends’ accounts.

Thanks Helen and Paul.

But the series of events that have led up to today has made me a more thankful man. Thankful for my father, thankful for my mother and my brother, thankful to the people in my life and his that came to visit, to the doctors and nurses of Columbia Irving Medical Center, to Barack Obama, to Dr. House, and most definitely, thankful to God. There is a reason people say, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” and that is because it is true. It’s a thought that has terrified me before, but never quite as viscerally as on Sunday evening.

I am just glad I didn’t have to lose him to learn that lesson.

But as I sit in this hospital room and see my family gathered together cheering him on through the smallest of victories, I think to myself, “This isn’t how Thanksgiving was supposed to be, but this is alright.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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