I settled into cubicle #14 to wait. In my bag I had two books, a spiral notebook with plenty of blank pages, the local newspaper, a bottle of water, some peanuts, walnuts, almonds and a granola bar.
I have experience waiting...
...I think the first time was soon after we were married; he broke his ankle riding a motorcycle through the Sam Houston National Forest with friends. He broke it bad enough to need surgery and a 2 inch screw, and started his second semester of college on crutches.
Or it might have been that trip to the emergency room when he sliced his thumb open on the table saw bad enough that it took 50 stitches to close it up. We were still in the house in League City, so it was during our Pre-Kid Era, as well. (A group of Jehovah's Witnesses startled him as he was ripping boards on the saw in the garage with the door open.)
Then there was the first hernia surgery, the car accident, the ulcer surgery, two more hernias, the heart attack scare, the arteriogram and subsequent stent insertion... um, I think that's all.
And that's just Tom. I'm not even going to mention the hours spent in doctors' offices and emergency rooms for my three asthmatic, active kids.
So when I headed downtown Friday to wait as Tom had surgery on a deviated septum, I went prepared.
I have plenty of practice, waiting.
He drove himself. Daniel took the car to his nearby apartment and drove it back here for us yesterday. I'll shuttle him back downtown tomorrow.
We did it that way because I needed to take TG to work - she hasn't driven since the incident with the Suzuki Samurai last winter, and hasn't had time to practice driving Tom's car. The Suzuki is still out of commission; Tom's putting it back together piece by piece as he finds the parts. I didn't want her first day driving after a year to be one where I was miles and miles away.
Why is everything so complicated?
He was still in surgery when I arrived, but they wheeled him into #14 with me within 40 minutes, and then I was on duty, watching his oxygen levels blink on the monitor above him (BREATHE!) and keeping his cup full of ice and water to soothe his sore throat.
In between talking to Tom (he was very alert and not in much pain at all) and ordering him to breathe, I glanced around.
It was a total coincidence, but exactly a year ago on that day, I sat in a curtained cubby waiting with TG after the same surgery with the same doctor. Tom had opted for a different surgical center so he could have it on a Friday and I was grateful. Instead of curtains all around, making me privy to everyone else's snorts, coughs, conversations, cries, you name it ... and vice-versa ... this one had three solid walls and one glass one, with a cute dog-cat-picket-fence-themed wallpaper border brightening up the tan walls. Much more privacy.
The nurse's station was directly in front of us, and I enjoyed watching them bustle about in their navy blue scrubs, thinking, I should have been a nurse. I'd love having a job that kept me busy, kept me moving, where I knew I was helping people and perhaps best of all, I didn't have to decide what to wear in the morning.
I never even considered it when I was younger - I had spent too much time in doctor's offices and emergency rooms with my own asthma, and I hated the smell, hated the fluorescent lighting, hated not having any windows. Little did I know I'd eventually spend hours and hours in both places with my kids, and with all of my family's health issues, I ended up a nurse of sorts, anyway.
Before I knew it, they were going over post-op instructions with me and helping him sit up on the edge of the bed. I barely had time to read the local newspaper, much less dive into the books I brought, and they were kicking us out! I think my granola bar is still in my purse.
Maybe it's all the practice he's had...maybe it's because he's so stubborn...but if it weren't for all the noise Tom makes trying to breathe (he has plastic stents in both nostrils, after all), it would be easy for me to forget he even had surgery. He doesn't complain, doesn't want to be waited on, remembers his medicine all on his own.
Miraculously, his nose doesn't hurt, just his throat, which is ruby red from the endotracheal tube. But he's been up moving around, walking the dogs, changing light bulbs - he even fixed a pot roast for dinner last night while I was at the grocery store.
So thank you all for your prayers. I can vouch that they worked. Please stay tuned for next time!
Oh, yeah...I had my camera with me, too, of course. Cute feet, huh?