Our beloved family member had surgery on Monday, and it went very well. So well, in fact, we had to sit on her to keep her from, oh I don’t know, GOING SHOPPING.
If I had to condense my part of the experience it would go something like this:
worry worry worry
anxiety worry worry fear worry
is that food? no? I should eat anyway worry worry munch munch worry
worry I know! I need a slab of cake worry worry anxiety munch munch worry
Oh no! my pants don’t fit sob rend worry worry anxiety I bet what I really need to do is eat more to ease the tension worry worry worry munch munch munch
stuff patient in car worry FEAR worry worry worry
drive worry worry “oh for heaven’s sake, don’t drive past the hospital!” disgust
worry worry worry
This is my brain on “Oh No, A Surgery!”
I thought once we arrived, it might get easier. I’ve noticed stuff gets easier once you pass the point of being capable of action. (It’s difficult to snatch the patient back once they’ve been whisked away to pre-op.)
I stare around the waiting room. At first, nothing registers, except it’s pleasant.
Then I panic. Oh God. The waiting room is pleasant to the point of soothing. There’s the sound of a fountain trickling, the lighting is fresh feeling. Plants flourish. The walls are a muted make-everyone’s-skin-look-good pink, more suited to a spa or dermatology office. There’s a sculpture. A book of patient poetry.
The chairs are clean. Soft. Pastel printed. I clamp my hand over my mouth.
SHE’S GOING TO DIE!
No one puts this much effort into a hospital waiting room unless soothing relatives is an absolute requirement.
Last year, when the doctor expected an ‘outpatient procedure’ to be in and out, she did almost die. The 15 min procedure went on for 2 hours, then 3, then 4…I had to stop looking at the clock.
I had waited perched on an ancient coffee-stained sofa, wedged in a dark hallway corner. Daisy and Lily both came after I called them in a panic, when the 2 hour mark passed. We alternated standing and sitting. A large nurses station, populated with harrassed, annoyed nurses, was positioned between me and the operating room doors.
No fountain. No plants. No mood lighting. No magazines at that hospital: they did not expect any problems.
I look up from this memory in horror.
A nurse smiles at me soothingly from the beige-pink counter. “She’s going to be fine”, the nurse says, with true compassion.
I have to get her out.
The nurse sees my escalating panic and misreads me, saying “She’s already in surgery, don’t worry, she’ll be out in fifteen minutes.”
Thought 1: NO! Not FIFTEEN MINUTES?
Thought 2: Where the heck is the cafeteria?!?
Post-Op: she’s fine. It only took 13 minutes. In at 7 am, out at 10:30 am and driving home. Crossing my fingers for the next surgery.
I really have to find a better way to deal with stress.
For those of you who are not hard-wired to eat in times of stress, what helps you cope?