Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tales from the waiting room

So I'm sitting here in the surgery waiting room at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center with my family. My mom is in her third hour of surgery, under the careful and hopefully precise direction of Dr. LoCoco and the da Vinci robot, which we have affectionately named "Leo".

We've been in this waiting room before. Nine months ago, we were here when my mom had a cancerous kidney removed. Today, it's a hysterectomy and removal of cancer on her omentum, the lining of the stomach. While the surgery is major, I worry more about the six months of chemo that is ahead for her.

But right now, I don't want to think about that. Every time I'm here, I feel like I just walked onto a movie set. If I'm on the elevator with a surgeon, dressed in his scrubs and little cap with a mask hanging off his face, it's like I'm face to face with a celebrity. I see the nurses rushing around, in and out of patient's rooms, and I'm amazed at how they can do this day after day and still treat each patient like a human being and remember that though it's the norm for the nurse, it's most likely not the norm for the patient.

As I navigate the halls of this huge place, I peek in rooms (even though I shouldn't). I see people in obvious pain and wonder how their lives have been changed by what has put them in this place. I sit in this waiting room and see a range of people - those who have obviously have been down this road before and those that look scared stiff. I see families congregating (like mine) and passing the time talking, on laptops or cellphones. Right now, my sister is on her phone, I am on my laptop and my brother and dad are each on their iPads. I wonder what has brought each of these people to this place and if the patients they are waiting for know how worried those in this room are, praying everything goes as planned. As we go past the third hour of what was supposed to be a two hour surgery for my mom, I think we're all getting a little uncomfortable.

My mom is the first surgery of the day. Dr. LoCoco has two more after this. My dad just commented that he'd hate to be the third surgery of the day. I honestly think that surgeons are cut from a different mold (no pun intended). I know several people who have the life and work ethic that surgeons do, and I sometimes wish that I could jump into their lives for just a day to see how truly different their brains work. I think it would be fascinating.

Right now, I'm just thankful that he and "Leo" are working together, hopefully taking the extra time to make sure they get every bit of cancer that has invaded my mother's body. And I say a prayer for her as well as all the other people in this waiting room and in this hospital, and for all of the staff here that live this "norm" for all of us who don't each and every day.

1 comment:

  1. Only someone in your shoes will appreciate this story. My mom was in surgery, getting the cancerous lobe of one lung removed. Dangerous of course, but especially so, considering her ill health. The chaplain kept coming out to update all the other families, one super-complicated-sounding surgery after another and it was always good news. Mom's surgery went on and on, longer and longer, hours more than expected. Finally, here comes the chaplain -- where we are sitting, only I can see her. She's walking, stops, looks down, puts her fist to her nose and mouth. My jaw drops. She looks like she's going to cry. I'm stunned. Keeps her head down, walks all the way up to our group, watery eyes, holds up a finger as if to tell us, "Hold on, I can't speak about this yet..." then sneezes. Mom was fine. Hope yours is too :)


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