Yesterday I had the honor of speaking briefly at a meeting to kick off the transition of UCSF Benioff Children's hospital from its current location on Parnassus to Mission Bay. The move itself won't happen until February 1, 2014 but the logistics of this move have been years in the planning.
I knew I was going to say a few words. Five of us were asked to share a few thoughts. The hospital executives need to hear from the actual patients and families periodically. It makes them remember why they do what they do.
These speaking gigs are nothing new for me. I have been participating in panels and done other speaking things many many times over the years. They do take a lot out of me, though, because I tell a room full of strangers about Maggie. It can get quite emotional. It rarely does, but it can.
And it did yesterday.
You just never know when the emotion of life is going to hit you. I know I can't control it and I really don't even try. These are honest emotions and they bubble up from time to time. It is far easier to talk about screw ups in the hospital or terrible communication from providers. It's easy to make fun of people who have acted foolish. It is harder by far to express the depth of gratitude I feel for the work they have done. That's what got me yesterday.
Many of the people in the audience are the doctors I routinely boss around when Maggie is hospitalized One of those docs came up to me after me little spiel. He was quite taken aback at my show of emotions. He had never seen that side of me. When he was attending in the ICU he watched me keep controlled in terrible situations. He has also seen me after days of little or no sleep, seen me lose my temper, and seen me become incredibly frustrated; but he had never seen me cry.
He approached me with his hands out in a sort of "what gives" stance and said "There's no crying in baseball." (That made me laugh out loud for several minutes.) He said he was sitting in the back, heard them introduce me and was ready for my wise cracks. When he heard my voice cracking he said he was straining his neck to see if it was really me. It was, but a different "me" than shows up with Maggie in the hospital.
I had to tell him when Maggie is hospitalized I am in Mama Bear mode. I have my armor on and I'm ready to fight. I will fight for anything she needs against any opponent, as will every other mom (and dad too, but I speak from the maternal point of view.) When Maggie is not hospitalized and I need to express the fears I have experienced and the gratitude I feel, the armor is off. When the armor is off, I can become emotional quite easily.
I told him not to worry. I will be armored up as soon as I need to be. And if you cry when wearing armor, you rust. But you can still blow off steam. Ask the Tin Man.
Because it made me laugh, and because it is such an awesome scene, I have to share the No Crying in Baseball scene from "A League of Their Own" Enjoy