In the OR suite where I work, there are 2 big sets of double doors that patients must pass through to get to the corridor where the operating rooms are. They say good-bye to their parents just outside the first set. Both sets of doors are automatic doors, so there is a brief interlude where both sets of doors are open and families can watch their children walk away from them toward the operating rooms.
Recently, I have started noticing these moments. They are beautiful, sweet, sad moments all rolled into a few seconds of actual time. Luckily, most children coming for surgery are well, they only need a minor operation and will be on their way to happy, healthy times. Of course, some are not well, and may never be healthy again. But for families that moment of saying goodbye and watching their child walk away is so very, very hard.
As a mother, my heart hurts for them as I think about what that would be like: sending your child into the unknown with a stranger…it would just feel wrong. But so many families do this time and again and they do with strength and grace.
As a doctor, I am struck by the sweetness of the moment. I watch as a nurse walks slowly through the doors holding a small hand, chatting with their patient and pointing out all of the interesting thing that are painted on our walls. This is a beautiful image. A child trusting this nurse enough to walk with them and chat and hold their hands on the way to their operation.
Of course, not all children come so peacefully, some are crying, some are fighting, some are just yelling angry words. But all the nurses are calm, and tender, and doing everything they can to sooth and reassure the patients. Surprisingly, most of these tumultuous children calm down as soon as the second set of doors close and they can no longer see their families. It is as if they realize that this is a new world, with different people in whom to put their trust.
Oh, one more reason I love my job: watching people go through the double doors. And better yet, being the person who gets to hold that small hand or carry the small baby through those doors. Lucky, I am very very lucky to work in this environment.