Thursday, August 03, 2006

Where everybody knows your name

The place I've visited most often in the past two years is the Lucile Packard Children's hospital.

I find the place both very comforting and incredibly annoying.

I find it comforting that many of the people there recognise my son (and sometimes me) and say hi. Folks from the NICU which was two years ago still remember him. I love the people there. Almost everyone seems to be kind and keep in mind how stressful it is to be there with a very sick child.

When my daughter was visiting there a lot at her insistence, because we didn't have reliable childcare at the time, but clearly half not wanting to be there, Child Life (a hospital service) gave her an enormous stuffed dog. She named it 'Dell'. Dell has an active life and still accompanies my daughter on adventures. Never mind his size, though she can barely see over his head, my daughter lugs him around. Sometimes when Dell is not around, she'll say "I have a dog named 'Dell'." It will be a little while before the other person learns that Dell is in fact a stuffed dog.

I can't stand the parking garage. Even after almost two years, I still don't know how to park there. I often wind up parking in a compact space squashed between two SUVs. Normally I'd grouse at the SUVs, but I can't really blame them since there's nowhere else to park. About a year ago I backed out of a space in a hurry and completely scraped the side of my car on a pole, ripping off the side of my passenger mirror. I replaced the mirror and kept the scrape. I figured I would just do it again. I haven't so far, but I believe the scrape wards off the poles.

I like the carpets. Somehow they seem nicer than linoleum. I like the art on the walls. My daughter comments to me about Babar. Sometimes entire stories are told from those pictures.

I like how you can sit outside with your food, but I dislike how they are always doing construction. All of Stanford is under construction for some reason all the time. And I can't stand the constant noise. The building was built what fifteen years ago, but it has the thinnest walls ever. You can hear everything everywhere. The construction, the people in the next room, the traffic outside. My son sometimes manages to sleep when he stays there, but I never really managed much sleep there.

I love the kids' faces on the big posters that proclaim that Lucile Packard is the top hospital in the country. It used to say top ten, but it slipped down to thirteen. It's okay I don't hold it against you. I've met a few of the kids on the posters. Like all professional photos, the kids didn't look as good in person. But they were still very cute. It was both comforting to see them as real people and sad that we were there so often that we happened to meet them.

And I'm very glad we're visiting the place a lot less often.

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