I’ve been saying one of the saddest parts of #SaferAtHome has been that people are dying in the hospital alone. No visitors. No last face-to-face goodbyes. It really pulls on my feels.
Today B had surgery – a partial nephrectomy. I’ve been crying, in secret, for days. (In secret because I don’t want to upset him or the kids. I’m not a crier.) It was scheduled late last week, when hospitals were allowed to start “elective” procedures again. (I will never understand how removal of a cancerous tumor is considered “elective” but I’m thankful that because B is young and healthy, he was the first patient the doctor called for the very first procedure in months.)
We had to leave home at 4 a.m. to get to the hospital – the last time I was up to leave the house this early was to catch a plane to Vegas with B for our honeymoon. Alas no plane today. There was very little traffic (obvs) and parking was a breeze. We were the first ones in the surgery center. After checking in, B was whisked back to the prep room.
From prep to the “block center” for a nerve block procedure, I was allowed to stay with him until they started the block. (They were using a pain blocker, similar to an epidural used during birth, to kill the pain in the abdomen in order to reduce the narcotics needed to manage the pain later.) The block docs came in, and in the flurry of all the forms and information, and being whisked out of the room, I forgot to kiss him and tell him I loved him.
I broke down in the hall and one of the nurses assured me they’d bring me back before he went to surgery. It was about 15 minutes until I was called back (thank goodness because I couldn’t stop my eyes from leaking).
I sat and held his hand and we laughed about silly things until the doctor came in. It was the first time B met his doctor face-to-face. Literally everything in the last few months has been by phone and video. It was kind of weird.
Of course, B took the opportunity to tell the doctor I had a question. It was something B and I have talked about since the surgery was scheduled last week. I looked at B and said, “I don’t think I have a question…”
B told me I did have a question. “Fine,” I said and looked at the doctor. “When can we have sex after the surgery? Do we need to wait the full 6 weeks?”
I called B’s bluff. (Also, we only need to wait 4 weeks, so yay!)
Then I had to leave. For real this time. It was highly discouraged to wait for the procedure to be finished. Plus I had to make sure the kids were getting to their schoolwork. (I messed that up, reading an email from L’s Spanish teacher wrong and giving L the wrong time for the video call. Oh well, she’s taking French next year anyway.)
The doctor called about 10 a.m., an hour earlier than planned. I was a bit panicked. “It went well,” he said. “B is out and in recovery. And while I couldn’t say it before the procedure, it was in a super easy place to get to.”
Then I had to start the calls – to B’s mom and brother and brother-like friend. And to the girls who are still with their mom.
I was most not looking forward to calling B’s ex, mainly because she’s kind of a bitch.
She answered right away, and I conveyed the news. Then she did something I completely didn’t expect. Something no one else had done. Something I didn’t really realize I needed. She asked how *I* was doing and acknowledged how hard this must have been on me. I cried.
Visiting B was quite the ordeal. No one knew what the policy was “that day.” Literally, the policy for guests changes quite often, and since “elective” surgeries was a new offering, there was a lot of conflicting information. One sign read “no visitors,” another one said “limited to two adult visitors.” The website said no visitors “except…” and listed several things, a few of which I could argue my visit would fall under.
A few hours after the doctor called, I reached out to the hospital and talked to his nurse. She had to ask a supervisor if I could come visit. The rule, at least at that time, was someone who had surgery could have a guest “immediately” after surgery. My clock was ticking since he had been on the hospital floor for two hours already. They decided I could come (if I could get there in 30 minutes), but couldn’t stay more than an hour. The nurse said I would be on the “list” and to enter the Pavilion building.
I flew down the highway, and I made it there in record time. My clock was ticking.
In the lobby, a security woman stopped me. “Badge,” she said.
“Um, I’m here to see my husband who just had surgery,” I explained. “I should be on a list of approved visitors.”
She told me to go to the main hospital (a few blocks away). She said that’s where the list is.
“Will they give me a pass then?” I asked.
“No, they’ll call me with your name since it’s on the list,” she replied.
“Then can’t you just call over and verify I’m on the list?” I asked.
SIDE NOTE: I can get very Karen “Imma gonna need to talk to a manager” and I was REALLY close. But I knew if I pushed too much I wouldn’t get to see B, so I started to back off.
The security woman called to the main hospital. The guy in charge of the list was handling an emergency and wasn’t available. I would have to wait.
And wait. And wait.
The security woman took me into the Pavilion building and used a phone on the wall to call someone. “Yeah, she’s here. No, he has the list but isn’t answering his page. She wants to see her husband. Well, she’ll still need an escort to the room. Yeah, I know. OK, I guess we’ll wait.”
And wait. And wait.
The security woman was also talking on her cell phone through all this, so she was talking to me, the person on the phone, trying to page someone, AND also talking to someone on the wall phone. Dude, that was some sort of multitasking, but it also made it super hard to know when she was talking to me.
After four calls to B’s nurse (who was less and less thrilled with me every time I called), I finally convinced her to come down to escort me up.
B was resting. He’s in a lot of pain (“feels like I’ve been shot! Except I’ve never been shot, so I don’t really know what that feels like…”) I spent an hour with him. His tasks before he can be discharged from the hospital: walk (he walked three times after I left his room) and fart. Yep, “fart” was on the list of things he needed to do.
UPDATE: He’s coming home today (Tuesday)!
I’ve been following your blog since we were both widowed at the same time and for similar reasons. So glad to see your update. Hang in there xoxoxo