Monday, January 24, 2011

Post 70...Six hours to save a life

We sat awkwardly in the lobby making light conversation. Quietly I stroked my husband's hair, listening to the idle chatter between him and his father. His parents had come to sit in the waiting room with him so he would not be alone during the surgery. But the time had come for me to get set up for surgery. The nurse assured my husband that he could come back once I was set up and be with me until I was taken to the OR. I could see the panic in his eyes as I gave him a quick kiss before leaving with the nurse. "I'll see you in just a few minutes," I promised him.

In an open-backed gown, a cloth shower cap on my head, and an IV in my arm, I sat anxiously waiting for my husband to come back to the room before the operation. Impatiently I sat through all the nurses questions about the history of my health, trying hard to keep smiling and chatting politely as I strained to hear if my husband was coming down the hall. Finally the nurses brought him back to the room. The moment I saw his smiling face come through the doorway, I felt my strength renew. I could see tears welling up in his eyes as he came near. "Is it hard to see me in a hospital again?" I asked. All he could do was nod as the tears spilled over his cheeks. In his hand, I could see he was grasping a small wooden box about the size of a silver dollar. It was my dream box. The dream box was something I had bought years ago on a vacation when I was little. It is a small round box with swirly engravings on the lid. In the very center of the lid is a tiny little blue/green bead. When I first saw it in the store, the bead looked to me like the Earth, small and bright, sitting amongst all the swirling unknown. The idea behind the dream box is: on a small piece of paper, you right down your wish/dream, fold up the paper, and place it into the dream box. Each night before bed, you hold the box close to your heart and focus on the wish/dream, picturing it to be true, channelling good thoughts and love into the dream box. And in time, the wish/dream will come true. For the past month, my husband and I had been using the dream box to focus on our wish/dream that the cerclage would go well so that I could carry to full term. As my husband stood by my bedside with tears in his eyes and the dream box held tight in his hand, I cupped my hands around his and we focused on the dream box.

For close to an hour we sat in the pre-op room, talking, hugging, laughing, crying, and praying that the surgery would go well. But the time had finally arrived. The nurse came in and announced that it was time for my husband to go back to the waiting room. I'll never forget the look on his face as my husband turned back to look at me from the hall. It took every ounce of strength I had to stay put in that bed and not run after him. For the first time all morning, I suddenly felt afraid. I cried and wanted to call out for him, but before I could even say a word, he popped his head back around the corner. His face was red and wet with tears. He didn't want to leave either. Again, he mouthed the words "I love you" and blew me a kiss. When the nurse noticed, she smiled and told tried to reassure him that they would take good care of me and that he would see me soon. He reluctantly nodded and at last, went back to the waiting room. The nurse patted my leg as she returned to my bed side. "Tears are normal," she whispered to me as I tried to discretely wipe my eyes.

It was weird how much tv shows have accurately depicted OR rooms. Normally tv shows are just slightly off when they try to create a scene. Like when a show supposedly takes place in Seattle and yet the brown rolling hills, blue skies, and eucalyptus trees give away the true location of the set. But there it was, as seen on tv, the single bed standing in the middle of the cold metallic room, illuminated by the bright lights that hung from above. Nearby there was a table lined with sharp shiny tools, sterile white gauze, and other unfamiliar devices. I was more fascinated then scared, honestly, and I wish I could have watched the procedure as they did it. But I had to settle with watching the ceiling and the occasional masked figure bobbing past my line of view. It took them two tries to get the spinal to fully work. The first time the anesthesiologist ended up running into bone. Luckily the second time worked but it still took a good amount of time to take full affect. As I laid there fully exposed, my legs spread open wider than I ever knew possible, I kept my mind on my husband. Though I was in a cold OR feeling the pull and tug of the doctor stitching me up tight, in my mind I was picturing the night before when my husband and I were dancing in the living room. The doctor and nurses were very sweet, checking in on me every few minutes, talking to me about the stages of the surgery, and even taking time to come and rub my arm and encourage me to keep strong for just a few minutes longer. But I had only one goal in mind at that time: to get back to my husband.

In what felt like minutes (but was really an hour) the surgery was done and I was in the recovery room. It was only stage one of recovery where they had to check my heart rate as well as Sunshine's, both of which were strong and steady. But it wasn't until stage two of recovery that I would be moved to another room where my husband could come and be with me. Once again I laid there impatiently watching the clock, asking the nurse every five minutes if I could go to stage two yet. She laughed and told me I had to wait at least 20 more minutes. The doctor came by and told me that everything went beautifully and that he was off to update my husband. I wondered how my husband was doing, if he was scared that things had gone on a little long (since the spinal took longer than expected). I wondered how scared he would be to see the doctor and how much he would be relieved to hear that things were done and all was well.

At long last stage two recovery came! As the nurses wheeled me into the next recovery room, I was nearly bouncing....well, as much as I could bounce after just having my whoo-whoo stitched up and my body completely numbed from the waist down. Once I was in place, I was brought juice and crackers as I waited for the nurses to bring my husband back. I never knew I could be so excited for apple juice and peanut butter crackers. But since I wasn't allowed to eat anything 8 hours before being admitted to the hospital, I hadn't eaten anything since the night before. Now going on 2pm, I was more than ready to eat!

And there he was! My husband! As I saw his smiling face come into the room, everything seemed to get brighter. After showering me with kisses, he handed me my wedding rings (since I couldn't wear any jewelry into the OR), and placed my Joey necklace around my neck. I could see his Joey necklace flash under the collar of his shirt. It was another happy family moment. Following close behind my husband was his parents. They seemed far more relaxed then they had that morning and it was nice to see them smiling. For about another hour, we sat around talking, waiting for the spinal to wear off enough to discharge me.

We went in at 10am that morning, and by 4pm we were back at home eating Jimmy John's sub sandwiches and watching movies. It's weird to think that in just 6 hours, with that one little procedure, we may have secured the future of our baby's life. As the doctor said; this baby isn't going anywhere until we say it can.

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