It’s Monday morning and we’re at the local hospital by 0630. A few minutes in admissions and then up one floor to the surgical suite. At this point Robin is whisked away by a very pleasant masked woman. I will not see my friend again until she is in recovery. I wish her well before she disappears behind a door. The well-being of the person I love most in the world is now completely out of my hands for the next several hours. I will learn what the OR staff wants me to learn when they want me to learn it.
At this point I am going on 99% confidence and trust in the process. Trust that everyone on the OR staff knows their role cold, is in good physical and mental condition, and that Robin’s body will do its part as well. But there is that 1% of me that worries. You can’t have been in this business and not have some reservations, because you have a personal collection of stories of snafus in the operating rooms that go back 50 years.
I did not sleep well last night and I am nodding in the waiting room, in danger of falling off my chair and embarrassing myself. So I am the second person in the line for hot coffee when the cafeteria opens at 0730. The other person looks like they’ve been here all night. It’s a little known fact that spending time in a hospital waiting room in magnifies every defect in your appearance and costume. If you normally look slightly haggard, now you are actually scary-looking and small children clutch at their parents’ clothing as you pass. Creases in shirts and pants appear as if by magic, generally going in an unnatural diagonal direction across your body. The same goes with creases in your face, and bags under eyes that you never had before are now the size of fanny packs.
I don’t know why or how this happens, but I have observed it thousands of times in others before today, and it is starting to show up in my mirror-reflection this morning.
By 1000 hours the orthopedist has stopped by to tell me that all went swimmingly, and that Robin will soon be moving to her room. By 1030 I am talking to her in person. At 1400 the nurses get her up for a short walk in her room. At 1600 she takes another walk down the station corridor before returning to her bed.
Quite a day, actually.
I have developed an affection for the physical therapist who managed Robin’s treatment after surgery. Not because of his professional skills, which were excellent, but because he laughed at all of my lame attempts at humor. Convincingly. That is not an easy task, since I have heard tapes of myself doing jokes and mostly they just make me want to step into a closet until everyone goes away.
But Fred is neither condescending nor patronizing. He’s the audience of one that you dream about.
In anticipation of the next several days, which we will call Just What I Kneeded week here at BaseCamp, I present a trio of hospital-based toons stolen from The New Yorker.