Friday, May 20, 2011

Fixing a Chiari Malformation Part One: Processing.

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Yesterday was a long, harrowing day. Husband's father says its always good to be a surgeon's first patient of the day. If you know my husband and his dad, being prompt isn't an aspiration, its a sin. Being early is always best, which yesterday we were. On the other hand, my sister says being late is better, regardless of your surgery order. I understand both of their reasoning this morning.

We were early and second in line for surgery (that's the royal we or is that the author's we? or maybe just "wee" because I am still tired and haven't had enough coffee). Husband's check in time at the hospital was supposed to be 6:30am Thursday morning, but for my husband it was 6:09am. It would have been 5:58, but there was a line at the surgery check in desk.

I don't know what time we were taken back to "processing", which is basically where they make you wait to get to the pre-operative area, get fully admitted by your pre-op nurse and get naked, dressed in one of those horrible (yet fashionable?) hospital gowns while listen to the hustle and bustle of nurses, techs patients and alarms. I can't tell you what time it was then, but I can tell you that the nurses were looking forward to lunch.

If you want to calm a nervous patient, this is not the place nor the time to do it. The communication is nill, you get checked on by someone who has no information about how long you will be waiting before something very scary happens and the standard answer is "I'm not sure". I don't think in the six hours my inlaws, husband and me waited in the pre-op area that any confidence in the unfamiliar hospital and its staff was gained. Lost, maybe, but definitely not earned.

The coffee stand did have excellent coffee, but they should have given away a free Xanax for every surgical patient family member. Or maybe a shot of something to take the edge off. Even better, they should have given my husband something to relax him and something for the pain he endured going without medication since 10pm the previous night. The nurse did finally ask if his pain level warranted a medication, but not until 30 minutes before he left for surgery.

You know what's great? I was reminded as different as my husband is from his dad, they still have many similarities. One of those is an inability to cope when situations and circumstances are out 100% out of their control. It was just a little scary when we got to hour four. Not to mention, my silly sense of humor isn't understood by my father-in-law all the time. He must think I'm nuts at this point. My using re-framing to deal with my husband's wait time wasn't understood much either, so I finally explained very nicely that having a big, clear picture shown to you in a different light is helpful and calming. And then I had a cigarette or two because I needed a break. I love my fathers, but sometimes they need a woman's perspective in a blunt way. That was not the time. And my father in law still thinks I am nice. I think...  

But finally he did leave for surgery. An orderly who educated us on how and when to steal stuff from the hospital (even though I didn't see anything worth stealing) zipped us up to the Preparation Area, or rather the husband got to go there and I was given the world's fastest instructions to the waiting area. Naturally, after all this wait, my inlaws had gone off to eat lunch meaning they missed this part.

I checked into the much nicer surgical lounge (why they call it a "lounge" I have no idea because no one looked to be lounging) then ran off to find my inlaws. I was entirely too nervous to hit the right buttons on my cell phone. Actually, I was so nervous that it took me a good 5 minutes to find an elevator to the cafeteria. And naturally that meant I couldn't direct my husband's parents to where they needed to go.

Epic Daughter-in-law Fail. I went to the car for a smoke (sorry, this has been sooo stressful!) and called everyone that I had intended to call post surgery at the time they expected to hear outcome to say "yay, he just went into to the prep area". My kid said "okay Ma, call me in 4 hours". Typical Asperger's-- memorized the length of the surgery and wanted no more info. Now if everyone were like that...

Part Two will follow later. I have 30 more minutes of solitude and coffee before we go visiting (so, you know, happy ending and all).

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