Annabelle Schneider

2021

TOY Cap Project - Nightshifts at the Hospital

Annabelle Schneider

Usually working and living as a designer in New York, now being stranded in Switzerland – the country I was born and raised in. Yet, experiencing a situation far from familiar and normal; While I was trying to build up a new living environment, the world around me got more isolated. Being a social person that needs the external influences, I felt personally challenged in rejuvenating my daily routines and finding purpose and validation in my creative work in my limited contextual nutshell.

January 2021: Numbers of patients in Swiss hospitals skyrocketed. A chaotic time in which each one of us could become a helping hand. Being a night owl per se, I saw my opportunity to volunteer as a helping angel throughout the night. Being there, where life was on the edge and extra hands were needed: In isolated hospital rooms, together with covid patients. In 6 person rooms with elderly people suffering from dementia, injuries (…) all disoriented and incapable to move by themselves. In rooms with injured drug addicts, who shared their wildest stories of life while I cleaned their everything. In rooms where people died. In rooms in which suicidal people dreamt of dying. In rooms in which I felt the love and gratefulness. In others, I focused on giving it.

Today, I look back at many months and many nights spent at the hospital I typically just knew from the outside. Like an invisible angel, I flew through corridors and floors, always again encountering surprises and challenging situations behind a new door. Many stories and lessons collected, many emotional moments shared. Looking back, my inner senses portray an overall mood of extensive hours spent in dark rooms. Views guided by technical lights from machines. Ears stimulated from rhythms of beeping sounds, engines of ventilation systems, sighs from pain, screams from dreams, or coughs that were so strong they patterned the opposite wall of the patient’s bed.

Today, my body might be exhausted, but my heart is full. Especially in a time that is so difficult for each of us, it may help to step outside of your comfort zone, explore new territories and offer your support where it is truly needed. The rewarding feeling and stories resulting out of every night’s circumstances are unexchangeable. Thanks to the health care professionals that needed and accepted my support. I applaud you for the relentless effort, compassion and strength while working at the edge of life. An extensive experience that tweaked my perspective on life and our purpose of being. And an experience that and re-assured what I claim to say. In the end, what really matters in life is LOVE.