Morning of the Surgery
..."Awake" isn't the right word after tossing and turning all night, but on the morning of the surgery I finally got out of bed at 5 am. I made coffee, dressed, got my stuff and left everyone still sleeping at my house. I arrived at the hospital at 6:15 or so.In the waiting area, I was greeted by my sisters, brother, sister-in-law, Dad, friends.
All of us, family and friends, settled in for the post-op wait. My family tends to take over rooms, it is partly justified because there are so many of us, but mostly it is that we just spread out with all our stuff. We moved waiting rooms chairs, whipped out blankets, shared books and magazines.
Soon a nurse began taking us back three at a time to see my mom being prepped before surgery. Mom was in good spirits, joking and chatting. Her foot was her only sign of her nerves, jiggling to and fro, I reached out and held it.
Three at a time, we prayed, kissed and returned to the waiting area to find more friends had come to wait with us.
When it was time to take her, we all filed into the curtained pre-op area again. We surrounded her, prayed with her doctor and said our goodbyes.
Then began the long wait. Made longer, not because of the time on the clock, but because of why we were waiting. Most of us tried to lose ourselves reading or talking. But you would catch someone just staring blankly and know that our minds weren't on what was in front of us.
Finally, the nurse asked the family, two or three of us, to go in the consultation room to meet with her surgeon. Two or three? Ha, seven of us squeezed in. Before the surgeon arrived, we chatted nervously about colonoscopies and prostrate exams (why?). Finally the doctor entered, we all breathed a sigh of relief when he said the surgery had gone fine. He told us she was in recovery and breathing on her own. Things looked good, now the recovery could begin.
I fell into line in front of my father as we returned to the waiting area. We passed the news along, making calls, filling in visitors. And we ticked off of our time slowly, none of us could stay focused on any book or the drone of CNN we chattered.
Finally we were told to move to the SICU waiting area. We gathered up our suitcases, trunks, and tents (feeling like gypsies) and took over a new place. Walking in the door to our new waiting room our body language seemed to shout "Move over, here WE come!"
It was so cold in the hospital. My mother, the consummate mother, had packed two lap blankets in her car in case we were cold while we waited. My sister, sister-in-law, and I shared them. We couldn't get warm, we begged for socks, pants, jackets from those who were running home and back to the hospital. One poor soul, who will remain nameless, resorted to wearing mens runnning socks with her capris and sandals (but isn't she cute?). The worry and fretting over the sub-freezing temperatures helped us momentarily focus on something trivial.
Soon we were able to go in three at a time to see her in her SICU room. She looked GOOD. So much better than what I was imagining. She was more than groggy but awake. My sisters, dad and I buzzed around her. Loving her with our words and gestures since we couldn't hug her like I wanted to. She begged for ice chips, and we spooned them in (my mom drinks water continuously all day when she is well). It was never enough to satisfy her but she was grateful for the relief that each one brought to her scorched throat.
She said to my Dad, "I did it." She made it through the first hurdle. I thanked God, I think we all did.
We complimented her on how good her hair looked. In fact, everyone, nurses and her minister included, were amazed at how well coiffed she was. She didn't believe us, my mother always has her hair done and doesn't like wind or hats because of how detrimental they can be to a "fine hairdo". But to us she was as lovely as ever. Her hands, the hands of my childhood, were ravage with IVs, tubes, lines, monitors making them swell and bruise. But still they were beautiful and comforting, at one point I held her fingertips to comfort her as much as myself, the one spot I was sure wouldn't hurt to touch.
The Next Two Days
Mom is recovering well. My sister, the physician, stayed in her room the first and second nights, keeping an eye on her. My mom got up to sit in a chair the next day. She took a few steps the day after that to get in the chair, again! She hurts, but she can still make jokes. Each hour that she gets better is a blessing and I count them, holding them in my mind like precious stones.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, kind words. They mean so much to me and my family, people you have never met. Thank you.