There is probably nothing as stressful as a day at the hospital, waiting for a loved one to emerge safely from surgery. We arrived at the hospital at 5:45 AM and soon after people began pouring in, most of them looking as tired as we already felt, after a night of little sleep, due to both fear and anticipation in getting there and getting through the day. Once you enter those doors, you enter a new time zone — hospital time. You can literally see the hand of the clocks moving slower. Around 6:30, mom’s name was called and she received a paper to carry to the next stop on her journey. An orderly escorted her in and in a relatively short time my sister, Mary ,and I, were escorted to a room where they had her prepped and ready to go. The little room was crowded with scrub-dressed staff bustling around, and after a visit from the anesthesiologist and her surgeon, it was time for her to begin her journey. We said our goodbyes and found our way to the surgical patient waiting area. This room was quiet, filled with anxious people awaiting news.
But thanks to modern technology, this is eased somewhat by a large TV screen displaying a chart which tracked the patient’s progress through surgery, recovery and onto their room or release. There is also a staff member there to answer the phone when the surgeon calls, or make calls to get you information if needed. Fortunately, my sister is close friends with the head of the maternity wing of the hospital (Central Carolina) and her daughter, Jackie, is on Dr. Gordon’s surgical team, so she was with mom in the OR. Given all this help, support and information we were assured all was going well throughout the procedure.
Everything went like clockwork, and soon it was time to go up to her room, but she’d hadn’t arrived yet when we got there, so we sat down to wait — hospital time, remember. Finally, she arrived and they had her hooked up to so many wires she looked liked a Borg (see Star Trek: The Next Generation). She dozed on and off all afternoon, but she was more alert than I had anticipated and was visiting with my brother and his family when we left. Mary and I sighed as the elevator delivered us to the first floor. We exited the doors we had entered eleven hours earlier. Step one complete.
. I’ve often marveled at the way a day at the hospital really does require that you take a step out of your life. We entered before dawn and on this February evening, the sun was already setting as we left.the hospital .But whereas we had stepped out of our lives for a day, on the outside, the world continued on, business as usual. People were working, walking their dogs, jogging through the park, driving home from work. We had missed it all.
But despite our weariness, we had seen mom through the first step on this long journey to save her life. The doctors tell us she needs six weeks of healing before any decisions or discussions will take place.
I returned to Sanford on Sunday, and stayed at my sister’s house. On Monday, mom’s friend,Betty, and I went to collect mom from the hospital. I stayed with her at her house until Wednesday when the doctor removed the drain tubes, changed her dressing and approved her trip up to Cary for the weekend. On Sunday, my sister will come and fetch her for another appointment on Monday, for which the doctor hopes to have the pathology report. They want to know where this tumor came from. The answer to that question will determine our next step.
There may be more obstacles as we move forward on this journey not of our choosing. But we must play the cards we are dealt, or as Betty said while we were waiting at the hospital, you have to live until you die.What choice have we?
Note: For anyone facing a life threatening illness, surgery or any kind of long hospital stay, the following idea worked for us. My niece, Jeanette, suggested we each write a letter of encouragement to my mom, or “Nana” as she is to so many people. We passed the word around and soon the letters began to accumulate. I placed then in clear plastic paper protector sheets and put them in a binder. By using the plastic sheets, the letters are preserved and for those who sent cards we opened them up and inserted them into the sleeves, so both the front and inside of the cards can be seen. I put a cover sheet on the front of the binder, which also had a clear plastic pocket on the front, and wrote, “To Nana, With Love” — a collection of cards and letters to encourage you during your recovery.
Mary read the letters to mom and she loved them. To know so many people are pulling for you is very comforting. Like I said in my last post, if you send ripples of love out into the universe, love ripples right back at you!