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The Trip

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A trip to the Emergency Room today provoked an unexpected and intense flashback.

Once settled in the ER bay, having completed the standard blood draws and IV fluids, the curtain pulled back to reveal our medical specialist.  My entire physical being reacted.  I could feel my pulse quicken and my breathing become a bit shallow as my mind attempted to catch up with my body.  It was obvious our paths had crossed before though at the time I was not cognitive enough to register a time and place.

She walked over to the stretcher where Tori lay and introduced herself.  I tried not to stare into her eyes as I answered each query regarding our reason for seeking medical intervention.  Then, by the questions she asked…I knew she too was aware of a previous connection.

Hasbro Pediatric Intensive Care, March 2003.  The woman who stood before me had cared for my daughter at the height of uncertainty, disbelief and chaos.  I felt the blood drain from my face as I now had a vivid picture in my mind.  Then, like now - we stood on opposite sides of Tori laying on a stretch.  There was urgency and a band of professionals that engulfed us.  Even my legs picked up the muscle memory.  It was as if I was there, in the corridor between the PICU and the OR, walking briskly alongside the entourage of specialists and medical equipment that accompanied our travel.

In the past I have always been able to maintain my composure.  Today I was not.  I listened to her recount our journey, her profession of remembrance and awe.  “Some things stay with you forever” she said.

In the twelve and a half years that have passed her life has changed with many career and life changes, families and tragedies in between.   Yet, her recollection of our time together in the PICU was as vivid as mine.

When I speak to young people across the state about the consequences of the choices they make I speak of the ripple effect.  I remind them no one is an island – we are all connected.  The impact of our choices – both, positive and negative, has the potential to go so far beyond ourselves.  Those choices will create moments and those moments will create memories.  And, as evidenced by a benign trip to the ER to rule out pneumonia on a summer’s day in 2015, it will stay with you…forever.