Chapter 12: Monday, August 26th. The Aftermath

Filed under: @ 1:20 pm

Laura and I met up in the surgery waiting area.

Having had experience with the surgical waiting areas of several different hospitals I can say with authority that the best one in the area is at Valley Medical’s main hospital in Kent. It’s a large, open area with relatively minimal back and forth traffic. Instead of having “artfully arranged” tables, chairs, and comfy spots to sit there are separate open… well basically they’re caves. Three walls and a ceiling separating you and your space from everyone else and their space along periphery of the room with tables, chairs, and comfy spots to sit. There are also less enclosed, more centralized tables and chairs, or comfy spots to sit. Basically if you want privacy you can cabbage on to one of the alcoves and have a table, chair, and someplace comfy to sit and it’s your territory for as long as you like. If you don’t mind being “in public” you can sit outside the alcoves. There is one, and ONLY one, TV although there are easy sight lines to it from many different spots throughout the area. The restrooms are close and boldly marked, there’s a coffee shop and a gift shop both within a few steps. The addition that makes me give the trophy to Valley, though, is the water feature. There’s a 10-15 foot textured glass wall with water running down both sides into a tiled pool with a raised edge where you can sit.
When you’re in a surgery waiting area you’re looking for close and easy distraction (gift shop, TV) for when your Big Bag Of Distraction isn’t enough. You’re looking for a comfortable area (options for alcoves or individual table/chairs or comfy spots) to set down the inevitable stuff you’ve brought with you. You absolutely Do. Not. want to be disturbed by half a dozen different televisions playing half a dozen different ideas of “ideal distraction material” because whatever it is it won’t be distracting to you and the antiphonal chaos created by the sound of six different TVs all at once is highly irritating. You’re looking for quick and easy access to food/drink and restrooms (both within sight so you don’t necessarily have to pack everything up and give up “your” spot when you have to go have a pee). And you’re looking for something to mask the terrifying idea that you’re in a hospital and someone you care about is potentially in danger. The water feature at Valley covers a lot of the hospital noise and although there’s a faint miasma of chlorine rather than a nice outdoor water smell, having something to splash and splish around is soothing.

Swedish First Hill isn’t bad, especially considering how old the building must be, but there are definitely some deficiencies.
There aren’t enough electrical outlets for one. And while someone obviously has made the attempt to create a “private alcove” like experience, the sofas are arranged in U shapes with a single coffee table and multiple end tables meaning that unless you’ve got a crowd waiting with you you either have to share your U shaped sofa arrangement with other families (ick) or you have to be a real butthead and spread out to cover all of the sofas in your U. The sofa clumps are backed up against each other with a small (roughly 12 inches) shelf for lamps, magazines, etc. in between which means that you’re sharing your personal space with someone in the next sofa clump (ICK). There aren’t enough tables to sit at, the restrooms aren’t within visual range so there’s a lot of shifting around, and while there isn’t a television, some halfwit put a children’s play area in one corner which means that people bring their kids to sit with them instead of doing something on the kids’ level to keep them occupied while they’re waiting for someone in surgery. By this I’m not saying that people with families shouldn’t have their kids waiting for them while they’re in surgery. I just mean that the adults who are in charge of the kids should seek out something on the kids’ level to keep them occupied while they’re waiting instead of expecting the kids to wait, and not disturb the other waiting adults, in a space that’s more designed for adults.

Where was I?

Oh, right. Laura and I waiting.

They’d taken Curt to surgery first, or so I deduced from the fact that when I got to the surgery waiting area Laura had already staked out a sofa and had even managed to lay claim to the coffee table. Laura has recently discovered knitting so she and I sat and knit at each other. Sometimes we talked, sometimes I listened to my audiobook, sometimes she read. I had my blueberry muffin cake, she had a Starbucks protein pack.
And we sat.
And we sat.
And we sat.
It was past noon when Curt’s surgeon came to talk to Laura. Laura was able to go directly to be with Curt, even though she kindly asked if I wanted her to stay until Andrew was done, so she left. Since the rest of our sofa clump had been occupied by a group of people with a pair of kids I packed up and went to go find a quieter stretch of ground, ideally with an electrical outlet since the charge on my tablet was getting a little feeble.
So I sat.
And I sat.
And I sat.
It wasn’t until almost 2 p.m. that Andrew’s surgeon came up to talk to me. I have no idea what he said and no idea what I replied. I was absolutely starved and had to give up my fairly prime spot (table, two chairs, and a convenient electrical outlet) to tell the surgical waiting coordinator (or whatever he’s called) that my patient was in recovery, if someone needed me they’d have to call my mobile, and where was the nearest food?
I got some lunch then came back upstairs to wait more. I snagged a sofa, at least, and was obsessively playing Candy Crush. Then I was obsessively playing Crunch Time. Then I was obsessively playing Words.
It’s all about distraction, but when you’re that wound up nothing distracts you for long. I went back to knitting and audiobooks for a while, then games, then my novel.
I got up. I asked the goon to call up to recovery. I sat down.
I played games, I knit.
I got up. I asked the goon to call up to recovery. I sat down.
It wasn’t until nearly 4:30 before I was told I could go back upstairs again.

They’d just gotten Andrew back into his room. I cut through the crowd of nurses, he turned his head towards me and I burst into tears.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the day. I know at one point after all the nurses and other to-do had gone that Andrew turned to me and told me that I didn’t have to stay and watch him sleep. A statement with which I firmly disagreed. I know Matt stopped by on his way to work and that the on-duty nurse who was fiddling with Andrew’s IV pumps was amused by his “Pro-Vax” button (Buy one. Profits go to an immunization information organization that helps promote the safety and efficacy of vaccines to various groups. https://store.dftba.com/collections/mcelroy/products/pro-vax-enamel-pin).

The next thing I remember is being at home eating dinner and watching The Grand Tour.
Pogo was on my lap, I’d finished my food and was about halfway through episode 1 of season 1.
I woke up two episodes later.

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