HURRY UP AND WAIT

As baby boomers, we are looking at the real possibility that one day we will be playing the waiting game. We all have played this game when we travel by air: hurry to get to the airport, wait in the security lines, wait at the gate, sit and wait on the plane, wait for our luggage, hurry to the hotel to begin our vacation.

But, there is a different place to HURRY and WAIT: the dreaded hospital. And so it came to pass that the decision was made for our son to have the biopsy we had been discussing with his doctors for 6 months. Planning for the big day began. First. I needed to GENTLY deal with hubby, he of the temperament who needs to be in control, would not do well waiting while our son was under general anesthesia having a procedure involving medical risks. Hubby wanders and wanders, never being able to settle down with a book or movie, which was not something I wanted to manage. I ever so delicately SUGGESTED, (hugs, kisses, favorite foods as bribes/rewards), that PERHAPS he stay home and tend to the doggie while I do the waiting. I then prepared my “waiting survival kit”: 1) food – no crumbs, no crunch, no sticky mess, so I decided on chocolate covered raisins, (healthy with a touch of decadence); 2) reading material – I had just downloaded a John Grisham book and couldn’t wait to delve in; 3) entertainment – I chose “Orange Is The New Black” as my visual/audio escape; 4) my trusty bottle of water; 5) charging cords for my electronics…I decided this mini – trip into never land of hospital sanitation did not require my passport!

The procedure was to begin at 11:00 but we were told to arrive 15 minutes early “to do paperwork”. Never mind that I did the requisite paperwork online, a good patient ALWAYS follows the email instructions. The day before, our doctor told us he needed even more blood from our poor son, so I had the brilliant idea, or so it seemed at the time, to do the lab work right before the biopsy, giving us an all – in – one day at the hospital. We leave at 9:30, find the lab in this labyrinth of a hospital, and began to WAIT. I pull out my phone and headphones and Jack is a happy camper while I sit and watch the clock…TIC TOC…time is fast approaching for our surgery to begin. As I became more agitated at all this WAITING, I finally told the lab lady we were due in surgery soon. My facial expression must have spoken volumes because all of a sudden the WAITING turned into HURRYING! Magically, Jack was whisked into the lab and just as quickly we were on our way. All that WAITING made me forget where the surgery suite was, so as Jack and I wandered these hallowed halls of white cleanliness, a nice hospital greeter helped us find our destination and we arrived right on time. My millennial daughter would have had a picnic with my “I don’t know where I’m going” mental state as she is convinced my memory is fading due to aging!

So the WAITING began again..out came the phone and headphones and Jack was plugged in. I surveyed the waiting room to find the lone outlet as I was convinced my phone would need to be charged because of all this WAITING. Finally, ACTION…we were taken into a sterile pre-op area and I never saw so many people move so quickly and efficiently: Jack was undressed and redressed, needles inserted in his arm, monitors placed on his chest and the ever present beep, beep of his vital signs were on brilliant display. Doctor, nurse, doctor…everyone had something to say to me as Jack was gently put to sleep, and taken away. Now my WAITING began but first I had to perform my pre-waiting ritual of walking. The waiting room was too small and crowded so I looked to the hall. It was short but it would have to suffice as my walking track…around, around and around I walked until I completed 8 trips, (yep, I counted), and was ready to settle down for PROPER WAITING. Hubby texts me to ask ETA, (he of short text messages could not ask, “how’s it going?”). All I could respond was that they just took Jack and he should feed the dog because it was going to take awhile. I settle into the chair by the outlet, charge my phone, open my water bottle and cue up “Orange Is The New Black” and I’m transported into the world of a woman’s prison, ( I’m sure there is deep symbolism in my choice of entertainment but my mind is on more pressing matters than to delve into my emotional underpinnings). After consuming 3/4 of my bag of snacks and 3 episodes of prison life, I power down my electronic miracle of entertainment and feel the need to walk again. By this time the waiting room had emptied  so I walk the perimeter several times. Ping, a text from hubby. He being the more spiritual one, sends me a picture of a frog, his subliminal way of telling me that we are taking a leap of faith having the biopsy performed. Now I’m finished walking but know I shouldn’t plug in as they may call for Jack’s family soon, so I escape into the world of John Grisham’s legal thriller. The surgeon emerges, telling me what he found and then I am called to claim my son. I gather my survival kit and race to see him in recovery. Quick as a rabbit jumps a fence, they had Jack unplugged, dressed, post-op directions given, staff bids us goodbye and we were are on our way home. If only the rest of the hospital worked as smoothly as these sterile people in this bright quiet area, the hospital would be a more efficient place. More action and less waiting should be their motto.

As baby boomers we will be waiting for news, some hard to digest, usually that which accompanies medical procedures, and other news which will be greeted with glee, like a marriage announcement or the birth of a grandchild. Whether good or bad, we must accept family news with grace and dignity since we will be viewed as “the wise ones”, mainly because we have lived so long, (ouch). Trust me, this is an honor that comes with emotional heft. The sad news weighs on us like a wet blanket and the good news fills our hearts with never ending joy. All news is part of life and I feel blessed every morning when I awake to greet the new day.

Leave a Reply