My job is so strange and wonderful. The other day, our boss called us and said a social worker was requesting an iPod for a preteen in the PICU at the other hospital. His iPod wasn’t holding a charge and he was going through a lot of pain, and the social worker was hoping to get him some music. Our iPod checkout is still getting back up and running, so this was the first request of its kind, but we stopped service and drove back to the office to get an iPod and lock, and then went off to the PICU at the other hospital.
While the whole hospital setting has an energy unlike anywhere else, the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) is a different world within it. A lot of the kids are not responsive - some are on intubation, or hooked up to more machines than I could properly name or explain. Many of them are sedated, and some are in a lot of pain. This is how we found our 12-year-old boy, curled on his side crying, with his mother standing nearby in a grim, straight line. Doctors in yellow gowns and surgical masks were flitting from monitor to monitor in a dance whose direction and purpose I couldn’t fathom.
It is a romantic notion, rushing to bedsides delivering music, but the logistics are frequently confusing and uncomfortable. The doctor closest to me saw me gowning up and informed me they were about to do a procedure - I explained that we were here to deliver an iPod and would just be a minute, and he said “oh, ok.” (It is more than a little stressful feeling in the way of people who are delivering actual medicine when you are toting a ukulele or, in this case, a tiny red iPod locked up to a giant piece of plastic with a purple heart on it.) I entered the room and extended my offerings to the mother, who only spoke Spanish, with a handful of phrases I managed to piece together. She took them and nodded, gracious despite the absurdity of the situation. I smiled, and got the hell out.
Again, throwing best efforts behind a plan that we may not see come to fruition. I hope it was a comfort to him later, that the procedure went alright, that there was a moment afterwards where he could lie back and scroll to a band he liked and find some peace in that. But most of the time we don’t find out those things. Our job is to give what we have in the moment. Our job is to show up.