The Worst Part: The Wait
The nurse who escorted us from pre-op took us to this large waiting area. We had to check in with a very nice lady at the desk, who gave us a number, which would identify Nolan on the big screen on the wall. It showed patients in pre-op, surgery, and post-op. She told us to have a seat and she would give us periodic updates on the hour. Surgery was scheduled to begin about 8 and it was still pretty early. We picked a couch to sit on and tried our best to relax. Once we sat down and had a good hug, we realized how exhausted we were. I mean we hadn’t slept at all. Before I knew it, both of us had dozed off. You know how you get that feeling that someone is watching you? Well I had it and popped my eyes open to see our friend Darren sitting there across from me. Dude scared me to death! I was like, “How long have you been there?” and he said, “Long enough,” which is code for dude you were drooling. Darren is a pastor and an awesome guy, and used his chaplain credits to get in to hang with us, which was really cool…we definitely didn’t ask him to do that.
And you know what? I’m thankful for him. He prayed with us and just was there as a friend. At 9:11am the lady from the desk came up to me, asked my favorite question (“Do you speak English?”) and then told us that the surgeons have made their first incision and everything is going well. Well that was late, but at least they got started. So while we waited and I drank like 40 cups of coffee, Darren entertained us with a bunch of hilarious stories about his father-in-law. I mean laugh-out-loud stuff. I know this is going to sound crazy, but for a little while, it took my mind off of what was going on, and I’m so thankful for that. I like to laugh…as much as possible, in fact, but laughter didn’t seem like it was on the menu this day, but Darren changed that for us. The lady came back every hour to let us know things were still going well.
Eventually Darren had to leave, and Bekah and I moved to a different couch up against the wall. We watched and listened as people received their updates, left to see their loved ones in post-op, and basically sat around waiting like us. I definitely didn’t feel like chatting with any of the other waiters, so I didn’t. Eventually Bekah fell asleep on my shoulder…and I think I might’ve fallen asleep too, because I don’t remember getting updates during this time. Finally after about 5 or 6 hours of waiting, my legs and back were stiff so I decided to get up. I got a drink of water and decided to mosey on over to the screen to see where Nolan was on there. I looked at my sheet with his ID number, then looked at the screen…then to the sheet, then to the screen…and again. Um…his number wasn’t on there.
“OH NO,” I thought, thinking the worst. I could immediately feel my body heat up like 50 degrees. I turned to the lady at the desk and frantically said, “My son’s not on there. Why isn’t he on there?!” She was checking…and I was freaking. I was fearing the worst. She said something like “It probably means he’s out of surgery, I should get a call real soon.” And I was like “Probably isn’t enough!!!” And so I stood there…staring at that screen, arms folded, hoping and praying for Nolan’s number to show up in the Post-Op column. Nothing…nothing…still nothing. God, it felt like hours.
Suddenly the doors behind me opened. I turned around and saw Dr. Peeler, Dr. Maxey, and the rest of the surgery team, still in their scrubs. I sucked in a breath and held it, and waved a feeble hello. Dr. Peeler said “Let’s go talk with your wife” and I said ok and walked across the room on the shakiest legs EVER. I sat down next to Bekah and nervously held her hand. The team sat across from us in a half-circle. Dr. Peeler was the first to speak and said, “The operation went as well as expected, and he’s going to post-op now. Any questions?” And I was like uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Dr. Maxey chimed in, saying everything went well, but that due to swelling and Nolan’s small size, they were unable to close his chest, but that’s not uncommon. He then asked if we had any questions and I specifically remember saying “No…I am just SO happy to see you guys.”
What a relief…Nolan made it! Now we just had to wait for someone to get us and bring us up to his room at the CVICU. During that time, another friend of ours – Marc – came from work to hang with us. It was so good to see him too. And he brought Starbucks! My man! I remember he brought a chocolate chunk cookie and I ate the crap outta that thing, I was so hungry.
Thank God for good friends. Thank God for a great Hospital. And thank God for a great surgery team!
Posted on November 5, 2013, in surgery and tagged CHD, congenital heart defect, CVICU, doctors, heart surgery, HLHS, hospital, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Norwood, Norwood Procedure, Sano shunt, waiting. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.