My husband had major surgery last week. You know how I know it was major? Because minor surgery is any surgery performed on someone other than you or your loved one. Truly, though, a spinal fusion is major surgery.
In these days of healthcare reform, a five day/four night stay in the hospital is not common. However, if they had discharged us one day sooner I might have staged a revolt. And yet, I’ve never wanted to leave a place more.
The room was spacious and contemporary; the view was beautiful. We watched the sunrise every morning. There was a flat screen television with cable and meals were delivered by room service (for the patient, anyway).
But hospitals are, after all, institutions. Things tend to happen at a snail’s pace and by day three it feels like Groundhog Day. I stayed with my hubby 24/7 because he is my life and I was not about to trust complete strangers with taking care of him after surgery.
I think he appreciated that I was there to help him with things like using the bathroom, but he may have had second thoughts the night that as I was standing behind him holding his gown up, I dropped it. Two people, weary and one under the influence of narcotic pain medication, laughing hysterically over pee. And let me tell you, that announcement on flights about placing your own oxygen mask before assisting others? Applies to assisting with bathroom needs in the middle of the night. There should have been a sign on the door; perhaps I would have avoided falling into a half giggling/half crying heap in a puddle of my own urine.
The best part of “rooming in’ is middle of the night visits from nurses for medication and vitals. It was sweet when they mentioned that we are so in love and remarked about how tenderly we spoke to each other. They see things, apparently.
Little did they know, I was right on the edge several times. Last year, we chose to “divorce” cable and I’ve been missing one of my favorites, HGTV. I was very excited when I realized that the hospital cable stations included my channel. After the first day, every time Mike was taking a rest, he would say, “Watch anything you like, but not HGTV.”
Seriously? I knew he was about to fall into a drug-induced semi-coma in two minutes. I cried out from my anguished soul and dug deep in the vault of forty-three years of commitment for the strength to love him in spite of this decree. As it turns out, in a drug-induced coma you hear a lot; as he “slept” he was very involved in the renovation projects and he was totally stressed out. Only my sweet hubby could be stressed while under the influence of narcotics and muscle relaxers!
Hospitals are lonely. They are noisy and busy places, but behind the door of a patient
room time drags. Visitors are awesome, especially when they come bearing food and drinks from “outside”. Please, if you are going to visit – for the love – stop by Starbucks or Panera and pick up a treat! Otherwise, your presence will simply be tolerated. My daughter brought me her leftovers from the Cheesecake Factory and a huge Starbucks mocha. I kissed her. I probably would have anyway, but I was sleep deprived and literally had been scavenging from the leftovers on my hubby’s tray. I might not have recognized her, but black beans and tacos smelled like love.
The place was a labyrinth. The few times I ventured from the room in search of coffee and snacks I was tempted to drop bread crumbs. Somehow, though, I found the gift shop.
When my oldest daughter was in high school, after a weekend that will prevent me from ever being nominated for Mother of the Year (that’s a story for another day), she was hospitalized at a small local hospital. A friend visited and brought a gift that was obviously from the gift shop in the lobby. A new family joke was born…just stop in the gift shop and by a box of tissues or chap stick. No thought required. Yes, we are classy like that.
Let me just say, hospital gift shops have changed. There were cases filled with fancy chocolates and pastries that looked nothing like the sugar free Jello that I managed to add to my hubby’s tray without pushing him over the carb count for the meal. As I passed into the Brighton purses and jewelry I knew this was a place that I needed to escape in my current vulnerable state. Fortunately, my compulsion to remain at his side overpowered the temptation to linger over the Vera Bradley display marked 25% off.
We are home now. Managing pain meds and praying for poop have kept us humble but so far, but we are still laughing and can’t believe that we’ve been doing this for almost forty-four years. If you have to stay a few nights in the hospital, take your best friend and your sense of humor.