After four hours, we started to wonder, “What is taking so long?” He was wheeled away at 7:30 a.m. and should have been done by noon, at the very latest. A female voice called our cell phone on behalf of the surgery team several times to tell us that all was fine and to hang tight.
Then again, that is what the hospital voice had said about my neighbor’s husband a few years ago and when we arrived for a visit we were informed of his untimely and unexpected death. “Just get to the hospital as soon as possible” the earlier unknown caller said. “All will be ‘fine’.” Yep. I’ve heard it all before and all was not fine. The word fine is really all about covering up the truth with a neutral and superficial word. Ever ask, “Hey, how are you today?” and get the answer, “I’m fine, thanks.” Do you really think that person is fine or are they saying it to be polite, to avoid burdening you with the truth of their misery or to continue on with their day? You see where I’m going.
Here’s what I learned about waiting patiently:
-When all is “fine,” don’t watch the clock. Find something to occupy the time, which slows waaaaaaaay down when you feel stressed. I answered emails, read, watched soccer with my husband (I hate watching sports on TV), walked around aimlessly and used the bathroom more than I really needed to. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.
-Texting and emailing family and friends back and forth not only helped to pass the time, but also reminded me of the importance of friends and family in my life, people with whom moments of happiness, sorrow, embarrassment, fear and vulnerability are shared freely, truthfully and willingly. How grateful I am for you.
-For God’s sakes, do not keep your gaze on the hospital recovery room doors. Everyone but the one guy you want to see strolls through those doors. And when the orthopedic surgeon does finally show up, he’ll come when you least expect it and through a secret set of doors you’ve never noticed before.
I changed my flight home not once, but twice. By the time 2:00 p.m. rolled around, I could no longer keep my mind in that little worry-free zone it had been cooped up in since 4:45 a.m. when the alarm screamed, “Rise and shine!” I was losing it. Gilles does not show his worry. He keeps it hidden way deep down inside, but his quiet demeanor speaks volumes. His uber calmness made me all the more anxious.
Finally, at 2:20 p.m., Dr. Glenn Pfeffer burst into the room (through that secret set of doors) and with his hands high in the air and a wide grin on his face, yelled in an exuberant voice, “Everything is fine, perfectly fine! (No way! There is that word again!).” Then, with body language that acknowledged our concern, he sympathized, “You must have been worried. I get it.” He saved the best for last: “The surgery was a resounding success. “
“Some feet are more challenging than others” he admitted. “Realigning a CMT foot is a complex and intricate process and I strive for perfection.” Nine procedures and seven hours later, perfection was achieved.
Will I worry about the overall success of today’s surgery? Most likely. I am committed to taking 30 minutes out of each day to honor my distress before moving on. A friend told me, “You can’t go backwards. It’s done. Ask your questions, embrace the present and move on from there.” And she’s right. Onward and upward.