The Aftermath: Part 11
The Long Wait
Nine days, a mere nine days, usually passes quickly without much thought—especially at Christmastime when there is always more to do than there are hours in a day. I started the longest nine days of my life. I was at home alone with very little support, and counted down the hours until it would be over. I wasn’t looking forward to the amputation, but I was glad this whole ordeal would be finished, just another chapter in my life, completed. I was unaware of how this would completely overhaul the rest of my years, so profoundly, in so many ways.
Being the holidays, everyone was busy with their usual holiday plans, while I was at home, alone. I struggled to make it minute by minute, hour by hour. I finally turned off the clocks as I was so focused on time it was making me insane.
The other concern I had was how to get to the medical center to have the surgery. It was a busy time of the year and everyone I knew had used up all their vacation days taking me so many times before. I made phone call after phone call trying to arrange transportation. Finally I decided the Greyhound Bus was the only solution. I would leave early the day before surgery and arrive at the bus station at 2:00 AM the morning of surgery. I could take a taxi from the bus station to the hospital and sleep in their lobby until time for surgery. This meant it would take close to twenty hours to make a trip that was normally two hours. I was ready to do it though as postponing the surgery seemed like a much worse option.
Four days before surgery, a woman I went to college with found out I needed a ride and said she could take me down on Saturday, before the amputation scheduled for Monday. I accepted and planned to stay in a nice hotel and order carry-out food for the time I was there. The night before she took me was a sleepless one and I finally ordered a pay-per-view movie, “Million Dollar Baby” to try and quiet my incessant visualizations that I was headed to the slaughterhouse.
The ride down was long with my friend telling me she and her husband of twenty years were getting a divorce. There were financial issues as well as custody issues about her three children. It gave us something to talk about, and for a while the slaughterhouse visualizations quieted down.
We arrived in Iowa City and I had a room in a hotel I had stayed at before and felt comfortable in. I had a really nice handicapped room and found there were numerous restaurants that delivered. I was down to less than forty-eight hours of waiting. I watched television and read some, but concentration was difficult. I really didn’t sleep, but continued to countdown the hours. The morning before surgery, the medical center called and said my surgery would be at noon rather than 5:00 AM. This added a few more hours to wait and worry.
I had arranged to take the hotel shuttle to the hospital. It seemed like a good idea until I tried to board the shuttle, an extra-large van using my one good leg. I finally managed to get in and laid on the floor in the back as I didn’t have the strength to pull myself up into the seat.
I arrived at the hospital on time only to be told the surgeon was running a couple of hours late. More time was spent waiting alone in the waiting room. I was anxious, shaking and in tears. They finally called me back to the surgical preparation area. I changed into a lovely hospital gown and sat alone in a little room with no window.
The anxiety continued to build. The nurse finally came back to take me for a spinal block which would help manage the pain after surgery. She noticed the state I was in and said she could give me something for anxiety. She looked at my chart and noted the doctor had not signed admission orders, so she couldn’t give me anything until one of the residents came to explain possible complications and have me sign that I had been informed of these. I waited another hour for that to happen.
Finally an injection calmed me down as I underwent the spinal tap necessary for the spinal block. After that, I was taken to the pre-surgical area for the routine questions and warnings.
The surgeon was finally arrived and I was wheeled into the operating room, strapped down to the table and while staring up at the bright ceiling lights, inhaled the anesthesia that put me to sleep.
To be continued…