Dana Mladin

When the “what if” question keeps coming to your mind…

January 25th, 2018. There have been exactly 5 years. And, amazingly, I do not forget, but I remember new details. Details that I had hidden in some corner of my mind, from an instinct to protect my soul…

The phone buzzes in my hand.

“You have reached the daily number of steps. Extraordinary!” – the phone informs me victoriously.


It is dawn and I realize I have been walking around for a few hours! What an irony… During the last months I did not manage to walk at all, however now I beat the record of steps on the hallway of a hospital… I have been walking continuously since 3 in the morning, when the ambulance brought my father here in a very serious state. I cannot sit. I feel I will fall. I keep walking on two perpendicular hallways, looking continuously towards the “Major Emergencies” door.

The few people who snooze in the chairs in that hallway, tormented by worries, leave one by one, after receiving some good news. I keep walking. No news. And I have no idea what to do. I have no power.  I wait for the smallest sound, for any door that opens, for any… hope.

A nurse comes out and gives me a black plastic bag with all my father’s clothes. I feel my blood freezing. She tells me this is the procedure. If a person is admitted into a hospital, the relatives are given all his personal belongings. It is horrible. I place the bag on a chair in the hallway and I go on walking. And I keep walking…

I suddenly hear a noise coming from the emergency room – a person suffering, on a wheeled bed, is moved to another ward. The pain of the person terrifies me. I found out later that the person was my father. They were moving him to the Intensive Care Unit. I am very sorry I did not catch a glimpse of him at that moment, as I was at the other end of the hallway, in my marathon through the hospital.


I have waited for some time in front of the ICU door. I was like a statue there. I had no idea what to do. There was no one there to tell me anything at all!

I have read so many times the things written on the wall, that I know them by heart. I think that as long as the door does not open, it is a good sign. “No news, good news”, right?…

After some time I realize I cannot stay like that, not knowing anything. I ring the bell at the ICU door, a nurse comes out and she tells me that my father is there, under observation. I cannot read anything on the woman’s face to be able to understand how serious the situation is. I tell her that I would call my mother there too, thinking about the worst. She tells me I should call her, although this was not what I was hoping to hear. Then she goes away to see to her job and I am left alone again in the almost empty hallway.

I call my mother and tell her to take a cab and come to the hospital. And I go on walking, while she sits on the hospital chair between two pills taken with some leftover water in a bottle. I cannot decide to go to my car and take the charger for my phone for fear that I might miss the piece of news… I go like a crazy to the snacks machine and back, then to the Emergency Room door, to the entrance, reading again and again what is written on each and every door. I have done this trail I have no idea how many times already…

The nurse I had talked to earlier comes out and, empathizing with us, she takes us to the ward where my father is, next to other people in a very serious state, connected to various machines. We are not allowed to stay. My mother talks to him, she caresses him, I………… (I cannot tell about this). We get out for fear that we can worsen his state. I am happy that we saw him.

The cleaning ladies, the nurses, the doctors working in the morning shift start coming. And some patients. And some relatives. And I keep walking, this time with a lot of images in my mind. The ICU door opens and closes, but no news for us.

The hallways of the hospital are full. It is ten in the morning. I have been walking around since three o’clock…

I stop when someone comes out and calls: “Mladin”. We are told that my father is better. He was even placed in a wheelchair to be able to eat. My God!!! My mother is so happy, that she thanks God aloud, in tears. I feel that the fatigue, the stress and the worries of the last hours have disappeared in the wink of an eye!!!

But, in another blink of an eye, I go from ecstasy to agony. Not even a minute after the great news, I am called (just me) to a room and the voice of a doctor simply crushes me: “it was a confusion”.  What?!?!? My God, how is this even possible??? My heart beats so hard that I get the impression that I will any moment spit it out!!!

He tells me in private, as elegant as possible, that they were talking about a different patient… The person who told us made a mistake. This is a mistake that I have to explain to my mother together with the news that my father is in critical state! He was in cardiac arrest and he was being resuscitated.

And the pain starts… I feel it in my stomach, in my brains, in my feet, heart and eyes… And I fight to make all the dark thoughts go away. I hope, with every door that opens, with every encouragement message from a friend, with every doctor who comes out, with every thought I hope that my father is strong!

He was not…………………………

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