Hospital Time, 2

a clock that begs for metaphor

Mar 10, 2023

Sophie and I look at that clock all day long. If you play the video, you’ll notice that the one on the right registers the hours and minutes, Pacific Time, and the one on the left just flies through seconds — or milliseconds — of — well — hospital time. No one here knows why it’s broken or what its original purpose was other than perhaps a “code clock” and I didn’t want to go there and it’s now broken and no one seems to care or even find it amusing the way this tiny little mother mind™ does. I’m an English teacher and a wordsmith, so I’ll ask you your thoughts as it screams for some kind of metaphor, no? Unless it’s quite literally registering hospital time, that strange and vacuous time warp some of you have experienced and know quite well. It does fly up to 100 and then resets at 0. Over and over





Sophie is trending better but not out of the proverbial or even metaphorical woods. She’s given the opportunity to breathe on her own without the ventilator and has done so for upwards of 5 hours today, but then they have to turn the oxygen on, sort of sedate her because she’s got that tube down her throat and gets very agitated. The antibiotics are working, but she will be on them for weeks and weeks. I do not know when she will be extubated, but perhaps by the weekend? Everyone here knows everything and nothing. I don’t know how I’m coping, to tell you the truth. The mind is miraculous and so is the body and more, the soul. I feel calm in an essential sense and entirely wrecked in another. This balancing act — or equanimity — is something that just descends on me, imposed through experience? Meditation practice? The absurdity and chaos of the western medical world as practiced in this terrible country, coupled with the earnestness and sheer grit of the nurses and doctors in the ICU? The grace that is unknowable? Copious weeping? The “screaming into towels” of which my friend Jody writes?

We are being taken care of by the most photogenic, bright group of twelve year olds you can imagine. Staring at the Hospital Time clock, I wonder whether this is all just the set of a television show. Nurses, nurses, care techs, respiratory therapists, infectious disease specialists and the occasional doctor. My friends and family have rallied and come to visit, bearing food and cheer. Carl squires me back and forth from the hospital, and Sophie’s father has been spending nights with her, as will her brother Henry soon. I take the day shift and wrangle it all in what I feel is an increasingly befuddled state. I am so grateful for all the emails, texts, calls and food I get, and of course your well wishes, healing thoughts and prayers for Sophie. As my son Oliver texted, “I love you mom and everything you have done for all of us. All of your kids love you and couldn’t have made it this far without you by our side. Things are tough right now but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and we gonna figure it all out.”

Here’s to light and figuring it all out.