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Archive for November 19th, 2012

On November 8th my wife had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee. She tore her meniscus and the surgeon had to remove a third of it, there was some damage done to the ligament so he tweaked that and cleaned up some bone spurs.
The morning of the 8th we set our alarm clock to wake us at the unruly hour of 4:30am as we had to be at the surgical centre by 6:30. Yes it takes that long to get ready. The dog needs to go out, the cats need fed and each one needs watched so they don’t steal the food from another.
We got to the surgical centre on time we checked in sat down and just as we were seated our name was called and we were ushered through the doors where only authorized personnel are allowed to enter. After negotiating a maze of hallways we were brought to Denyce’s prep room. She was settled into the bed as they handed me her purse, her walker and showed me a little wooden chair in a corner where I was too sit.
At one point I counted 7 people in the room not including Denyce and myself. And by room I mean cubicle. There was the surgeon who autographed  Denyce’s knee to make sure he got the correct one, there was the anesthesiologist and his assistant, three nurses and some guy just standing at the ‘doorway’ and by doorway I mean curtain. They asked all sorts of questions to Denyce and to each other. Nobody waited for an answer, a nurse asked Denyce a question and at the same time the anesthesiologist told her to open her mouth, so he could take a look inside. It was a whirlwind of chaos. Then I heard the magic words, “Denyce I ‘m going to give you a shot that will allow you to relax.”
Oh how I remember those words from my own surgeries. Immediately I was off my little chair and beside the bed, I took my wife’s hand and told her, “Now comes the easy part, all you have to do is sleep and I’ll see you in about 10 minutes your time.” And with that they wheeled her down the corridor. A nurse showed me the way to the waiting room and told me somebody would be out to keep me up to date in about 40 minutes to an hour, I figured it would be more like two hours.
I took note of the time and sat down on the group W bench. The group W bench is the bench where you wait, and you wait. And. You. Wait…
At the ripe old age of 47 I was the youngest person in that waiting room. I found out it was really cataract surgery day. Really old people would scooch their way in bumping and grinding into things as they pushed the walkers along with the entire weight of their frail bodies bearing down on the handles. Walking behind them, trying to reach around to open doors and clear the isles an elderly child (mid 50’s minimum) would try to be of some assistance but usually only making matters worse. After watching several such episodes I realized the waiting room was designed to torture these poor people. They would be forced to amble up to one of the check in desks and have a seat. The old people would drop their bags move the walker out of the way, grab the chair and slowly, painfully take a seat. They would be asked their name, date of birth and then asked to sign a waiver they could not possibly see. Three minutes later they would be asked to move to the waiting area. The walker would have to be set up just so. They would gather their belongings and with the aid of a walker, ‘child’and chair combo they would stand. An exercise that took longer than the check in process itself. They would shuffle over to the waiting area, find a free group W bench and drop their bags, coats and other items of necessity, slowly and painfully they would lower themselves onto the bench.  They would let out a sigh lean back and in a minute a nurse would appear at the door that only authorized people are allowed to pass and call their name. The looks on some of the faces were priceless, others were just plain scary. They would start the process of gathering all their worldly possessions and haul themselves back into a standing position while the ‘child’ would do what they could to help. They would step towards the door and the nurse would say to the child, “oh for now we are just putting drops in the eyes we will send your mom/dad right back out you can wait here with all the stuff”. They did this each time! A few minutes later out from behind the door that only authorized personnel are allowed to pass would come an old and now blind(er) person who would have to maneuver back to their group W bench where their loved one could only hopelessly watch. We would all watch in horror as the process played itself out over and over again. Eventually the name would be called again, and once again we would watch as they made their way through the doors only this time we would not see them again. In time a nurse would come back and find the waiting ‘child’ and let them know the surgery went well and the nurse would bring the ‘child’ back behind the doors that only authorized personnel were allowed to pass and I knew they were done. I would not be seeing them again. I must have watched a thousand years of experience hobble through that door. I watched as the waiting room kept changing, I alone waited and waited as others came and went. At the hour and a half point I started to watch the door waiting for the nurse to call my name and tell me all was well and I could go see my wife.
Two hours later the surgeon come through a different set of doors. Through these doors not only are only authorize people allowed to pass. But phones are not allowed nor recording devices. He beckons me over I gather the walker and my wife’s purse. He tells me to leave them he just needs me for a moment. I admit to a little panic. Nobody else had the surgeon come out. Nobody else was told to leave their stuff. Nobody else went through THAT door! He told me everything went well and Denyce was fine. She was in recovery. He started talking very fast, telling me what he did, what he expected, and all the aftercare instructions. He did this all in a very static rapid fire style. No way could I hope to retain any of it, I didn’t even try. I knew my wife was fine and that was all that mattered. I was sent back to my group W bench and I waited another 40 minutes before a nurse came through the normal doors that only authorized personnel are allowed to pass. She told me to bring my stuff, so I gathered my purse and walker and was brought to my groggy and slightly cranky wife. We sat, we talked, we listened to the nurse as she told us what to do and how to do it and what to expect. Eventually Denyce asked me the time. I told her it was noon. We had been there almost five hours. Denyce looked at me like I was insane and told me the last thing she remembered was a nurse telling her she was being given a shot so she could relax.

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