I backed away from writing in my journal a week before the surgery because I felt as if it was a bit like beating a dead horse, but, on the other hand, it was all I was forced to think about. Every blood test, every urine analysis, and every EKG screamed that there was a something new to address and I was forced to make back and forth trips to the hospital for tests, tests, and more tests. There was blood in my urine, I had insufficient potassium in my body, my blood pressure was out of whack, my legs were too swollen, my asthma went ballistic, I had had a silent heart attack, my liver had a problematic spot on it. It went on and on and on. And the more trips I had to make to the hospital for more tests the more it fueled my apprehensions, and my nightmares. The more that I tried to live grateful for that particular day the more phone calls I got from the doctor that I needed to go for another test. By the time that I had the final pre-surgical physical I was so full of anxiety I could hardly talk. My doctor took one look at me and handed me a prescription for Valium.
I took that prescription straight to the pharmacy and had it filled. I could have written in my journal after taking one of those wonderful tablets, but by then it was the day before the surgery and all I wanted to do was sit in my chair and let my mind flow to something other then what I had to face the next day. I have never taken a tranquilizer before, but I have to admit it was the most wonderful, releasing pill that I have ever swallowed.
This will be the last time that I will write about the 24th of January 2006. It is not a day that I want to remember, but there is something that I must put into written words. It is the story of a son.
Both my grandson and John had said that they would go to the hospital with me. But someone had to stay with the unhappy beagle, and John had received some sad news that had left him shaken and I didn’t want him to have any more stress. So it was decided that my grandson would stay home and secretly care for John who would stay home and secretly care for the beagle. I asked my friend Scott and an ex-girl friend of my son’s to stay home too.
My granddaughter needed to go with me. She was too frightened and apprehensive. She needed to be a part of the experience. My son needed to go because I needed him. But what I received from him was not what I expected.
I quietly sat in the back seat of the car and listened to the chatter between my son and his daughter as we drove to the hospital. Several times the panic tried to over-take me, but I shoved it back down. I was proud of myself that I had actually made it into the car in the first place. I had seriously had doubts that I would have gotten that far. I did fine as we looked for a parking place, and likewise when my son took out the wheelchair and brought it to my side of the car. But when we turned the corner to enter the sliding glass doors of the hospital admitting area I jammed my feet on the ground and in a state of panic said, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it!”
My son turned the wheelchair around and slowly pushed it into a shady spot where we could sit for a few minutes. He put his hand on my shoulder. He let me shake for a bit and then he sternly said, “Would you rather die. You need to have this done before it becomes infected. You have been told that by several doctors.” Then he let the silence speak for itself. And that is what I expected from him .....
As I have told you before my mother and father were my personal strength and love from God. They were always there. The two of them spent a lifetime standing beside the daughter that had had polio. My father’s quiet faith-filled strength and my mother’s bubbling positive assurance that I was strong enough to see it all through were always there for me. This time ...... they were both gone.
For this 34th surgical procedure I would have to find the strength by myself. And that is what I thought about when my son, my granddaughter, and I sat outside the hospital and waited for my shaking to subside.
One of the truths about any doctor or hospital visit is that you have to arrive early so you can sit and wait. My son pushed me into the admitting area and we sat there and waited. As we waited I continued to try and call on the love that my parents had left me. But the wait was interminable. It was for my granddaughter too. Her tears were apparent and her apprehension kept her running to the bathroom. But my son stood there with his hand on my shoulder.
When we were finally called to the waiting room of the pre-surgical area the women behind the desk waived at me. I had been there for so many tests they felt that they knew me. And then I was called into the room where they prepare the patients for surgery. As my son wheeled me into the room and I saw the bed with the gown lying on it all my resolve disappeared and I turned to my son in a panic and said, “Take me out of here. I can’t get on that bed. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” And that is when my son took the place of his grandparents. I had no idea that he could carry my panic and my fear. I had no idea that he could face my demons and back them down. I had no idea that he could become my strength. He quietly talked to me, he forcefully talked to those that were trying to prepare me. He assured me that he would take me home. He held my hand. He held my life. He watched my fear become a physical manifestation. He talked to those that wanted to know my history, to those worried about my blood pressure, to those unhappy because I was making the schedule run late, to those that wanted to be angry because I wasn’t compliant, and to those, like the sweet housekeeping employee that thought I was frightened of needles and tried to reassure me that it was all over and the needle was in my hand, and to the RN that was worried that he was going to whisk me out of there (as he had promised me he would if I really wanted to postpone the procedure) and spoil her routine of the day.
And when I looked him in the eye and said, “I will never again, in my lifetime, let them do this to me. I want you to understand that I will never again undergo surgery,” he grabbed my hand, squeezed hard, and said he understood. And I knew that he did!
The anesthesiologist came to my bedside to get the history of my polio and past surgeries. He ordered something to calm my nerves and wrote extensively on his clipboard. He returned several times to talk about things that troubled him and the more he returned the more he became a man of understanding.
Then I was wheeled into the room where the patient waits for the surgeon. I started shaking so hard that I was brought a heated blanket. Still my son never let go of my hand. He stood there ready to fight my battle over and over.
The anesthesiologist came to my bedside once again to ask about my asthma and as he tried to talk to me he asked if I was shaking because I was cold or if the fear had done that to me. I told him it was the uncontrollable fear of being put under anesthetic and he said, “I have something that will help you with that.” And as he inserted something into the line that had been put in my hand he turned to my son and said, “She wont remember any of this when that takes affect.” AND I DON’T! That is a wonderful gift.
My son tells me things that I did, like the death grip that I put on the surgeons arm and we laugh about it, because I don’t remember. I don’t remember much of what I went through until I heard the words, “It’s all over and you flew through it. They were worried about you and you just flew through it all. You did beautifully. In fact you did better then any of my other patients that have had this procedure. You’ll be going home in another hour.”
Everywhere my bed was pushed I heard the same thing. “You’re absolutely amazing. You sailed through it.” And I knew that they were right because my son had been there to hold my hand and fight the demon when it raised it’s ugly head. My son gave me everything that my parents had given me and then more. He has so amazed me that I cry when I try to tell the story of a son that became his mother’s hero in a surgical suite.
You will never know how much the strength and love that all of you sent me has meant. I totally believe that your prayers and palpable concern are what made it possible for me to “sail” through something that even worried the doctors.
I am a very blessed woman.