As promised, Erik detailed his own experience in the waiting room. As I said, he really was put through the ringer when the surgery took about an hour longer than expected. Thanks so much for blogging for me Erik :)
Well, I'll start off when they gave Michelle her shot of Margarita elixir in the pre-op waiting area. They had finalized everything and she was ready to go. I was both excited and scared, but didn't want her to see any of my fears. So I put on a smile and they wheeled her out. She was already feeling nice and relaxed and the nurse told her to keep her hands and arms inside the bedrails so as to keep them from getting banged on the walls in case that were to happen. As soon as she said to keep her arms in, Michelle put them right on the rails. She said, "keep your arms in sweety." She put them down, then 2 seconds later, grabbed the rails. "Keep your arms in sweety.", the nurse said again and Michelle put her arms down. 2 seconds later, there they go again holding the rails. "I need you to put your arms to your sides sweety.", she said again and I was doing my best to hold in my laughter.
We go to the end of the hallway to what the nurses referred to as the "Kissing Corner". That's where the waiting room was and this is where everyone said their goodbyes. We stopped there, and Pat said a few nice things to Michelle which now escape me, but then I really wasn't paying much attention to anything around me. I was just holding her hand and praying for everything to go well. I said "I'll see you later sweety.", then leaned in to kiss her forehand and give her hand one last squeeze. She said, "thank you sweety" and then she was off.
Pat had to leave to meet with some people and asked that I keep her posted, I told her I would. She left and I went in to the very crowded waiting area, found a seat and began my task of texting and facebook posting as to Michelle's instructions. When that was completed, I decided to go grab a bite to eat at the start of the surgery since I knew I wouldn't move again until it was done. I headed on over to the cafeteria, bought a couple slices of pizza and some water, and had my lunch. When that was done, I thought I'd head to the gift shop to see if they had a word search to keep me busy since I know I wouldn't be able to concentrate enough to actually read anything. I found what I needed and headed on back to the waiting area.
I was told by the nurse that the surgery would start around 11 am and end at about 12:30, but that it may take up to 2 hours. So there I sat, doing my little word search and intermittently stopping to read some of the texts from friends and family, and respond to those that asked me to. I would occasionally glance at the soccer match they had on the T.V. but for the most part, kept to the word search to keep my mind off things. 12:30 came and went, then 12:45, then 1:00. Michelle had said the only person that I really might need to call would be her grandfather, so I gave him a call at that time just to let him know that it looked like it would take a little longer. He said thank you and looked forward to hearing from me when it was all done. Then 1:10 came and went, then 1:20, and I was panicking. What the heck was taking so long and why was no one coming to update me? Every time a nurse or doctor entered the waiting room, my heart just stopped, then they would call a name and my heart would begin racing again, because it wasn't about Michelle.
I tried to be calm. I didn't want to ask anyone what was taking so long because I just didn't want to put that out there. I had to think everything was okay and that if I felt something was wrong and acted like it was, then it would come true. Stupid, I know, but that is the way my mind was working. No news was good news, right? I kept trying to convince myself of that. Then 1:30 came around, a doctor came in, looked at me and said, "Mr. V?" , "yes" I replied. He said, "step out here please". What? Why do I need to step out of the waiting area? All the other doctors walked in, called a name, and then walked right over to talk to the patient's family. Why is it different for me? Why can't he just walk 5 more steps and let me know she's okay? All these thoughts raced through my mind as I gathered her things and mind and walked to the hallway. I don't think I was breathing this entire time. I got to the hallway where he was waiting for me and he said, "Everything's fine, it just took a little longer than we expected". YES! I could breathe again! He said, "she'll be in recovery until about 3, then we'll move her up to the 5th floor and you can go see her when she's settled. Now is a good time to call anyone you need to, grab something to eat or run any errands you need to, ok?" "Thank you Doctor!" was all I could say at that point.
So with my heart beating normally again, I proceeded to contact, text and facebook as I did earlier to let everyone know the good news and then headed home to pick up my son and my Mom. I just couldn't believe that it actually happened and I was so excited and happy for Michelle. I went home, got her things, put the kid and my Mom in the car and headed back to the hospital at 3, just like the Doctor said. We went to the waiting room and since there wasn't anyone there to look up her room number, I decided to head to the Nurses station to get the room number she was in.
The nurse that was there asked for her name, I told her "Michelle V" and she proceeded to look up her information. she said, "Oh, she's ready to go home". I said, "No, she just got done with her surgery and was in recovery, so I know she's not ready to go home". The nurse looked puzzled and said, "Monica, right." "No, Michelle, Michelle V" I said. "Oh, I think she's still in surgery." "No," I said again, "she just got done and the doctor said she would be on the 5th floor, I just need to know the room number," "oh, sorry, let me check again." "Well it looks like she was just taken up with her family" the nurse said. "No, I just got here with my family, so that can't be her" I said. "yes sir, but she just went up with her Mother and a Man in a wheelchair" the nurse said again. Then another nurse chimed in, "if you were not in the waiting room, we call the persons name and whatever family members are there, we take them up with the patient" in a tone that implied "maybe if you had been here, you would have gone up with her too/" I looked at the second nurse that had said this to me and said, "I know if wasn't her mother, because she is deceased so it would be impossible for her to be with her Mom. My son and I are her only family here in town so you need to check again". I said this in a tone that let her know just how wrong she was and that she needed to drop her attitude because I had already been through the ringer when the surgery took longer than expected. The first nurse finally found the right person and said she was still in recovery and they were waiting for a room to become available and they would come get me as soon as they heard anything. "Thank you" I said exhaustedly. Sheesh! It was like the Keystone cops went to nursing school.
So back I went to the waiting room to let my son and Mom know that we would wait to hear when she was being taken to her room. We waited for about 30-45 minutes. I received a call from Pat and walked out to the hallway to get a better reception and to apprise her of the situation. As I hung up with her, I thought I heard my name, I turned around and there was Michelle behind me, pointing at me with a nurse behind her saying, "is that him?". I smiled and walked over to give her a kiss and let the nurse know I needed to get my son and Mother and we would follow them up to the room.
My son decided on the way to the hospital that it might be funny if we filmed her and asked her questions to see how she would respond. He got this idea from a youtube video of a father who filmed his son after his son had just had dental work and was loopy from the procedure. So when my kid gets up to her, he immediately asks, "how are you doing?" and "how many fingers am I holding up?" I told him to give Mom a break and let her rest, then had to explain to the puzzled nurse his devious intentions. We all smiled and laughed a little, then headed on up to the room and the rest, as they say, is history.