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28 days of paper cranes

CranesIt started with a few spitballs. Then a barrage of paper airplanes. Soon, a flock of paper cranes started to form. They covered a bedside table, then the window ledge. Someone conveniently “forgot” a roll of tape and the cranes made their way up to the bottom edge of the TV, the air vent and the ceiling. They started to appear in the hair and pockets and on the stethoscopes of nurses, techs, and doctors. They even visited the rooms of other patients.

And that was just the first few days.

Eventually, there were other paper animals too. A dragon guarded the doorway, a butterfly clung to the picture on the wall, and an eagle watched over the IV pole as it followed the bed down to surgery. Paper flowers multiplied and soon adorned nurses’ computers.

The operating room nurses knew who we were immediately. They’d already stopped by the room to get a crane.

When we went back to the operating room for a second surgery, two weeks later, the crane was still sitting at the pre-op nurses’ station.

When we moved from a room on the third floor to a room on the second floor, some of the third-floor nurses still came to visit. Some were disappointed not to see a new flock of cranes hanging from the ceiling. The ceilings on the second floor were too high; the cranes were relegated to the top of a bookcase.

Today is the 28th day of my mother’s stay in the hospital. Thanks to the doctor my mom nicknamed “Thor” and a surgeon who kept on top of my mom’s care during some of the most critical weeks by cell phone and text message despite being at an out-of-state conference, my mom’s condition finally seems to be improving.

It has been quite a month, to say the least. But it has been a good reminder of how much certain things count: family, supportive colleagues, understanding clients and long-lasting cell phone batteries, to name a few.