I turned on the TV when we arrived in room 4003 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on November 8, 2016 after 11PM PST.
We always request an odd room as it faces the south side of the hospital and overlooks 2 central patios where a new calming garden has just been installed. Over the summer when he was in the hospital, we watched the construction progress of this sanctuary and my son Lowell and I agree, they have done a pretty good job.
Trump comes on the TV to accept the election results which have gone in his favor as the IV nurse arrives to start Lowell’s IV. We are here because Lowell’s stomach pain had been increasing all day. The pain is related to his Crohn’s disease and current problems of strictures (narrowing’s in his small intestine). At times, these narrowing’s can cause obstructions so eating and even just normal bowel contractions can increase the pain. There is a level of pain that is tolerable and manageable for us at home but when it gets past a certain point and eating and drinking is difficult we need to go to Cedars. So after a long day of struggling to manage the symptoms, and tensely watching election results, we went to the hospital and got admitted.
I couldn’t watch the TV so I am not sure why we had it on, but it seemed hard to turn it off. The sound was muted so we couldn’t hear his voice, the voice that over the past 18 months we had heard spew misogynistic, racist hateful and generally intolerant views on many of the simple freedoms we should all have as Americans, as people.
The IV went in flawlessly compared to the many other times when getting the IV in was more difficult. Blood was drawn, fluids were started, meds were administered, and Trump and his family were walking off stage.
Donald Trump was our president elect. We were hunkered down in our little hospital room in a world class hospital in Los Angeles with beeping pumps, and nurses and residents asking me the same questions about his allergies, meds, and health history.
It was close to 1AM and Lowell, thankfully, fell asleep right away. I set up my cot, luckily I had remembered to bring my own pillow (a little luxury) and climbed in with my phone and my laptop close by. No way was I going to be able to sleep. Besides the normal difficulty of hospital sleeping, Trump had just been elected and I had no one there to discuss this or commiserate with. I opened my computer, went to my social media pages and found others sharing in my shock and disbelief.
It’s true, most of us Hillary supporters thought she would win. Friends would sometimes be distraught and worry about Trump gaining in the polls, but I didn’t get too involved with worrying. This was because there is only so much worry to worry about. Do you know what I mean? I am caring for my son with Crohn’s disease and managing every aspect of his life, which is extremely complicated and requires my full, energized self. I focus on taking care of myself, working out, trying to eat right, meditate, see friends when I can, and limit engagements that don’t make me feel good. We had just been to parent’s weekend at Northwestern where my older son attends college. The Cubs parade was that weekend, the weather was unseasonably beautiful and we were all happy to be together.
My charity Connecting to Cure Crohn’s and Colitis, has expanded programing to include a yoga class for kids and a support group for patients and caregivers. We are planning our events to continue raising money for research while supporting patients and families who are coping with IBD.
Beyond this, there is very little energy for outside worries especially ones beyond my control. Yes, I don’t have control over the source of my son’s Crohn’s but to have a child whose life is constantly challenged, there is no letting go of that worry. Plus there are things that I can do on a daily basis to make his life a little better, and I focus on those.
I didn’t have the time to worry about the outcome of the election though I followed everything that was going on. In general over the past few years, I have been increasingly limiting my exposure to potentially upsetting things. For example, I am more likely to swap the historical movie about an upsetting time in our history for a romantic drama or outlandish comedy. And ask anyone in my book group-no more Holocaust books! Even if it is just a small reference. Won’t read it.
There was no time for election anxiety, I had enough here at home every day. On Tuesday November 8th as the night wore on and we nervously watched the returns, Lowell who was not feeling well, kept assuring me “mom, the polls are still open, the numbers are not all in, he is not going to win.” But just as it became clear that he was, It also became clear that Lowell was in too much pain and we had better go to the hospital. In this scenario, he usually needs bowel rest, which means no food or drink until the obstruction opens up.
So there I was, the night creeping along as I continued to scan my social media and connect with others who shared my sentiments. At some point I got tired and dozed off for an hour or so. When I awoke, it was around 4AM and I looked at my Facebook feed. People were still sharing their feelings and reaching out to each other. My son, a journalism student had posted on Facebook. The young people these days, I am told, look at Facebook for their news but they don’t post much personal stuff. But on this night, my son had posted his thoughts about the election. I had worried about younger people because they had to witness this volatile election and now they saw that a person could pretty much do and say a lot of awful, mean and offensive stuff and a whole bunch of people would still think he was fit to be president. I am not qualified to analyze why and how Trump beat Clinton as I know it is really complicated, but this negativity was unfortunately a large part of what they witnessed during the whole election period.
You can read his post here because describing it wont do it justice. At the point of me reading it, my emotions were still raw, but his post was comforting because he reminded me that we can still work toward change, and that most of us would soon find a way to access and use that to fight for what many of us believe to be a better way for our country.
I managed to fall back asleep for another hour before Lowell woke up and we faced the day together. We talked to his doctor, did our best to cope with the parade of residents and nurses wanting to do all kinds of unnecessary things and then later in the day, he was able to eat and drink, and we were discharged.
I’d like to say things have improved since November 8th for Lowell and our country. For Lowell, we are waiting to decide the next steps of treatment to alleviate his current problem and for the country, well, much remains to be seen. We are divided and Trump is moving forward with an agenda and people in place to carry out such agenda that many of us are not comfortable with.
It has been interesting to see how deeply affected we have been by the outcome of the election. The political is so personal and there I was coping with a difficult personal situation as the unfavorable election was winding down and feeling both so deeply. The blur of my election night hospital stay has clouded the days since but we are nothing if we don’t always have hope. I think Jonah said it best that night “I just hope we don’t forget how lucky we all are to be in a position to fight for change.”
I will never stop thinking that there is something more to be done, to help Lowell, to help my family and to help this country.