We followed all of the instructions. By the time we arrived at the appointed place at the appointed hospital, and at the appointed time, I was lugging around a folder stuffed with instructions. None of them said anything about bringing a pack animal.
My husband, Fred, had total knee surgery on February 8th. A lot of people offered to go along and sit with me whilst I awaited the surgical outcome; my daughter, best friends, church people, etc. I turned them all down. I was going to be fine. I learned why people have people sit with them. No one person can lug around all of the stuff. When we were taken to the getting-ready-for-surgery room, Fred shared the lugging-of-the-stuff. The getting-ready-for-surgery-room is the little dinky hospital room one is assigned prior to being wheeled into the bowels of the hospital for the actual surgical procedure. If you’ve ever had same-day-surgery, you should recognize the little, getting-ready-for-surgery room.
So…Fred is on the bed/gurney and I am now the holder-of-the-stuff. L.o.r.d.a.m.e.r.c.y, what were we thinking? Here is a partial tally of the stuff:
- My winter parka that has seen too many winters.
- Fred’s suede winter coat that makes him looks like a lumberjack.
- An overnight bag with toiletries, some underwear, and the robe and slippers which the hospital staff INSISTED he HAD to have in his possession for walking the hallway during physical therapy sessions. NEVER USED EVEN ONCE. They left him in those stupid hospital gowns mooning fellow hallway walkers.
- The clothes Fred had worn to the hospital and his clunky, athletic shoes.
- A canvas tote bag filled with my reading material, an unfinished knitting project (didn’t touch it once…much like the robe and slippers), and the doctor and hospital paperwork that NOBODY EVER ASKED ME FOR EVEN THOUGH THEY INSISTED WE PRESENT UPON SHOWING UP AT THE APPOINTED DESTINATION AT THE APPOINTED TIME. I kept trying to give it to the desk people.
- My purse; enough weight for any woman to heft.
- The walker Fred had been stomping around with for the past couple of weeks whilst awaiting surgery. I realized that I was woefully unprepared to lug all of that stuff back down two long hallways to return to the waiting room. I envisioned the evening cleaning crew dragging my puny, exhausted body off to one side of the hallway and piling it there along with the scattered detritus of our stuff in order to buff the floors later that evening. I am, however, one resourceful woman. I took myself out to the nurses’ station and blathered something until a heavy set, blonde nurse finally looked up at me. “Do you have a cart or something that I can borrow for a few minutes? I have a load of stuff I need to cart back to the waiting room?”
She blinked. “No.”
“I can’t move all of this stuff by myself.”
She blinked again and observed, “Most people have at least one other person accompany them to the hospital.”
I was getting exasperated with this nurse’s lack of empathy for my plight. “I did. Unfortunately, the attendants wouldn’t let me pile all of this stuff on the gurney alongside my husband and take a circuitous route past the waiting room on the way to the surgical suite.”
Evidently this woman had no empathy and no sense of humor whatsoever. She simply shrugged and went back to her charting…or whatever she had been doing before I had approached. She could have been working the word jumble in the newspaper for all I knew. I made one more attempt in the form of a clever plea for mercy. “Perhaps there is a spare donkey somewhere that you could scare up for me?”
This heartless woman was now completely ignoring me. I, however, am one resourceful woman and refused to be deterred. On my way back to the getting-ready-for-surgery room, I swiped an office chair from the hallway. It had been setting in front of some kind of monitor-like machine of some kind. As there was an identical station alongside it with an identical office chair setting before it, I rationalized the theft as being barely noticeable. I triumphantly wheeled my prize back to the getting-ready-for-surgery room and piled it full with all of our stuff; topping off the pile with Fred’s walker. Fred asked, “Where did you get that chair?”
I looked my husband straight in the eye and announced, “I stole it from the hallway. The nurses around here have no compassion at all. I requested a cart or a donkey or something, but the lady out there simply ignored me.”
Around that time two nurses crowded into the little dinky getting-ready-for-surgery room. They had blood pressure gizmos and an I.V. pole with a bag of clear liquid swinging from it. These two nice ladies had evidently attended a different nursing school than the dispassionate witch at the nurses’ station. After they had completed their getting-ready nursing chores and had Fred all blood pressured and hooked up to the I.V., they both looked over at me where I sat beside the stacked office chair. One of them asked, “Where did you get that chair?”
I looked her straight in the eye and announced, “I stole it from the hallway. I requested a cart or a donkey or something, but the lady out there at the nurses’ station simply ignored me. I’ll bring it back.”
“They won’t let you borrow that chair.”
“Too late,” I quipped, “I’ve already got it.”
The other nurse said, “Most people bring someone else along for companionship…and to help them carry all of the accumulated stuff.”
I said, “Don’t start with me. It’s already been a long day and the surgery hasn’t even started yet.”
These two nurses turned out to be what nurses everywhere are supposed to be; compassionate AND resourceful. They wheeled in a wide wheelchair that would have easily accommodated three people and proceeded to help me transfer all of our crap from the office chair to the wheelchair. The walker balanced atop the pile, one of the ladies said, “There, you can keep the wheelchair with you until your husband is assigned a regular room. Unless someone from Three East accosts you and demands the immediate return of the wheelchair, you should be good to go.”
I spent three hours in the waiting room sitting beside my trophy chair like a proud bag lady. Not a single person ever challenged my ownership. I am one resourceful woman.
p.s. My husband is fine.