On Wednesday, the alarm clock went off at 5 am. Jason and I both stumbled awake and quickly got ready to go. At 5;30, we woke up Laurence half an hour earlier than usual, because he had to get ready for his last day of first semester summer school, and we had to leave for the hospital.
The hospital is located in one of two parts of town that I find extremely confusing and hate driving in. Thank goodness my antidepressant calms my anxiety, right? Jason put on my phone’s GPS to help guide me, and since he’d been there recently, he was able to get me live directions as well. We actually made it to the hospital without incident, and after getting semi-lost trying to get into the parking garage (it’s REALLY confusing!! Why is the entrance to the garage tucked behind some dumpsters five turns after you go through the entry that SAYS it’s to the garage? But that’s just they built it…), we finally got out of the car. We walked along a long sky bridge to the hospital itself and found our way to admitting…which was closed that early in the morning. Um…
By this point, we were already 15 minutes late. I found a reception desk nearby with a security officer sitting at it, and figured maybe she could help. Jason and I walked up, and they immediately assumed we were there for labor and delivery (groan!). We cleared up THAT misunderstanding, explained that Jason was scheduled for surgery, and the officer asked where the doctors had told him to go this morning. (Note: This hospital is so big that it consists of multiple buildings interconnected by sky bridged and passages. It’s also one of about a dozen hospitals all sandwiched into the same location – Medical Center – which makes everything more confusing. See why I hate going to this part of town yet??) The doctor hadn’t given Jason a location, just a time, so the officer guessed that we needed to go to the sublevel 2 basement of the South Tower. She gave us a long, complicated set of directions to get first to the right set of elevators and then to the OR waiting room on SL2.
Long story short: we finally got to where we belonged, filled out paperwork, and set up to wait. Within half an hour, they took us both back to the OR prep area and started getting everything prepped. The doctor met with Jason first and marked his neck, which really did look like just a slash across his throat. But I guess when you’re having a parathyroid gland removed – a gland that’s the size of a grain of rice – there’s not much in the way of marking.
Side note: When a loved one is going through a surgery that might potentially nick his vocal chords and cause permanent damage (among more serious dangers), it makes you feel really awkward when the doctor/nursing/staff team can’t get themselves together. They told Jason to change, and he did, only to be told by someone else later that he needed to wipe himself down with these antiseptic wipes left for him that no one mentioned before (with lots of eye-rolling from the nurse about other nurses’ incompetence). But, you know, despite all that, I wasn’t too worried to be honest. Having been through four surgeries myself, my greatest fear is the IV…
We answered a LOT of questions. I think they asked Jason why he was there about a dozen times, mostly to the same person. I can’t tell if they were assessing his mental state (making sure he knew what was going on) or asking for legal reasons each time they did something new (like put in the IV or record his list of medications). Eventually he went off to surgery, and a nurse led me to a waiting room. At that point, I had not only my stuff for the day but all of Jason’s overnight stuff that he thought would be tucked under his OR bed, so I was basically like a pack-mule. (Especially because Jason for some reason brings all his work stuff with him everywhere, including multiple sets of electronics. His bag is HEAVY.)
All I knew at that point was that the surgery would take 1-1.5 hours and then after a couple hours of recovery where I wasn’t allowed to be with him, they’d find him a room and take me up. Instead, the doctor came to speak to me after half an hour and the surgery was already done and successful. About three hours after that, they finally sent me off to his room. Only they sent me to the wrong tower (Central, instead of North), and when I arrived on the right floor of central to find a cardiac wing with no patient rooms, I had to find someone to lead me to the right place. And the person I found was a doctor who had only worked at the hospital for three months, and he had to go ask someone else where to go and how to get there. Then the two of us went together. (I later had several nurses tell me that they’d worked there for several years and STILL get lost.)
Finally, FINALLY, I got to see Jason. He had this tiny bandage on his throat and a breathing tube in as well as an IV, and he was asleep. I stayed with him for a few hours as he went in and out of sleep, partially disoriented. Once he was lucid and just needed to rest, I drove back to my kids, who of course were doing perfectly fine on their own, but it still worries me to leave them alone for the entire day, you know?
Jason was up and walking around by the end of the evening, and other than his throat swelling pretty badly that night, he didn’t have any complications. Laurence and I went to pick him up the next day – and I didn’t get lost trying to make my way from the entrance to the actual garage this time, yay! We ended up waiting for several hours because no one was communicating. The doctor hadn’t come to see him, but we knew he had to be discharged by a certain time or billed for another night in the hospital. Finally I called the nurse and discovered the discharge paperwork was all together already, they just hadn’t gotten around to it. Sigh.
So finally they came to take out all the IVs and such, and after a mild complication – Jason bleeds tons after an IV is removed, it turns out – we were on our way home.
Since then, he’s been well. His throat is sore and he can’t talk loudly, and he’s still on a soft food diet, but he’s recovering well. Our family made it through the third surgery of the summer without major incident. Woohoo! All is well in the Gignacery.