Dear Family-in-the-Waiting-Room,

Now they're rolling the gurney down the hall, into the elevators that will take me to the surgical floor. I sit huddled in the swaths of bleach-free blankets and sheets, wondering what is happening to you. Just minutes before the surgeon explained, for the hundredth time, exactly how the procedure would go - reassuring you for the millionth time that only he would be making the actual incisions: "These are surgical fellows who will only be observing in the operating room. No touching." 
But at least they will still get to see me on the operating table. You, as my family members, are only privy to updates that I imagine are given by a surgical nurse every now and then. And to be honest, the only reason why I think that happens is because of what I've seen on all those hospital shows: ER, House M.D., General Hospital.. Does it really happen? And do they update you in that monotone voice the actors have in those shows? Or is it a little more humane? What are you thinking after they give updates? Do they tell you exactly what you want to know? These are the questions I'm wondering as I'm rolling towards the surgical floor, getting a little farther away from you.

Now I'm in the operating room. During the brief trip over the prep nurse and anesthesiologist have been making small talk with me. What grade are you in school? What's your favorite subject? What book are you reading? Do you have siblings? Do you have pets? I read in your medical records that you want to be a lawyer someday? I know that these questions are meant to calm my nerves. But it's hard to stay calm because you are so far away down the hall, down several floors in the elevator, and sitting in some imaginary Family Waiting Room that I have only seen on t.v. shows. I am thinking that for every question that the nurse is asking me, your synapses are firing off only a hundred more.
Did I follow the pre-op instructions correctly? Did she have anything to drink in the past 8 hours? What were the risks the surgeon told me again? Should I look at the fine-print on the copy of whatever I had just signed? Will my son remember to lock the door when he comes home from school to an empty house? How long did he say recovery would be? Is this really worth it? 

I wish you could be with me to see how metallic the inside of an operating room is. Metal is reflective, shiny, sterile, and cold. Just looking at all that metal in there makes me shiver a bit. Would you like another blanket? The nurse asks me. They've lifted me onto the operating table, it's slim, black, and has a place for my arms to be strapped down onto. Someone begins to place 'stickers' with vein-like wires attached to them. The anesthesiologist waves the little tube of cherry-flavored sleepy drug underneath my nose, my stomach turns.
In my head I'm not thinking about how straight my bones will be after this operation. And I'm not thinking about what color cast would you like? I'm thinking about something I know best, the most familiar person my brain can conjure up in this frighteningly silver room: you. Are you sitting in the chair with your legs tucked underneath you, with your hands clamped between your legs as if you really need to go to the bathroom? Except we both know that you don't, you sit like that - curled up and tense when you are nervous.
Has someone brought you something to drink? Jello, apple juice, and popsicles are for patients so what do hospitals give to family members in that Waiting Room? A styrofoam cup of coffee? Non-caffeinated tea? Hot chocolate? Do the graham crackers you are nibbling on suddenly taste like cardboard? What are you thinking about now?
How long will this take? Will something go wrong this time? Will she be okay? What did the nurse just tell me again? What does that mean in plain English? 

Don't be nervous. Because I am not nervous anymore. I'm looking up at smiling eyes hiding behind a surgical mask, thinking about you and the questions that you are wondering about. Somehow I believe that there is comfort in the unknown that we are both facing, hundreds of feet away and in drastically different rooms; because as long as we are both thinking of each other then whatever heart-wrenching-hand-wringing-hair-graying-pulse-stampeding incident we must deal with - will never - sway our confidence in one another.
"Okay Sandy, ready to go into a deep sleep?" The anesthesiologist asks. I am looking back at him and only manage a nod as I imagine someone coming to tell you, "The operation has just begun, and she is doing great." 

See you soon in the recovery room,

Posted in , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2011 Perfectly Imperfecta. Powered by Blogger.