Sunday, December 09, 2012

Notes on the 6th surgery, Part Two

2:00 PM

I quietly crept into the hospital room hoping not to wake Anne-Marie.  Too late, the commotion of all the setup in her new home woke her up a few minutes earlier.

"Did you see me try to catch you in the hallway?" I asked.  "Oh yeah.  I saw you.  I already woke up a few times in the recovery room," she said.

We sat and talked about that morning and unrelated stuff for a while.  I asked her how she was feeling and she said that she was in a lot of pain and was feeling a little bit nauseated.

3:00 PM

Because I sent them text messages directing them through the labyrinth of buildings and corridors, half the family successfully found us in our new place on the 4th floor of the Pacific Tower.  Kids and grandparents were still working their way toward us, but it was nice to see so many people crammed in the 6 x 8 waiting room.  I gave them all the update.

3:15 PM

Grandparents and Elisha and Mariah arrived and I immediately sent the kids back to see Anne-Marie.  They'd been awake since 5:30 and needed to go back to the motel for some quiet time in the worst way.

Little kids don't understand this stuff at all and it turns everything into a misplaced comedy show.  As soon as they walk in the room, they start pushing buttons and banging equipment around.  The tired eyes of the Special Procedures Unit quickly turn to furrowed brows when two preschool kids go shrieking down the hallway.

4:00 PM

I was needing lunch and Anne-Marie was now settling with the company of sister-in-laws Kara and Cora.

5:00 PM

Brother-in-law Mike and nephew Andrew went downstairs with me to eat lunch and we started talking about politics and religion.  That took a little longer than I thought and when I got back to the room, Anne-Marie was in a lot of pain.  She had held off asking for pain medication because she felt nauseated.  They wanted to give her something to help the nausea, but the doctor hadn't prescribed anything.  And Anne-Marie had already been waiting a long time.

After an excruciating half hour, I left the room to find the nurse myself.  When I found her, she was on the phone.  Just as I was about to do the universal hand signal to hang up, she told me she was on the phone with the doctor.  He was sending the prescription over.

6:00 PM

It took well over an hour for Anne-Marie to get anti-nausea medication so she could even think about taking something to cut through the pain.  She was very strong through the ordeal, regardless.  We would see this cycle repeat itself two days later when we were at home.

7:00 PM

Most of the family was needing to go back home to Oregon.  Anne-Marie was doing much better and said her goodbyes.

8:00 PM

This is where my evening goes wrong.  I needed to eat dinner and the cafeteria was closed.  The closest food to the hospital was a mile walk through the UW campus in the freezing cold.  I decided to go the vending machine route.

It was no problem because UWMC has a huge room of vending machines with an ATM next to them.  I decided to withdraw a little cash and get me a muffin and top ramen (because class is my middle name).  Here's the problem: the ATM only gives out $20 bills; the vending machines only take $1's and $5's.  Really.

I wandered around until I found an ATM that takes $5's and hungrily ran back to the vending machines.  What I didn't know is that the vending machines took $5's, just not my $5's!

8:20 PM

I got back to Anne-Marie's room and Ramona took pity on upon hearing my plight and handed me $5 in change.  Phil and Ramona left to get some sleep back at our house.

8:30 PM

I got back to the vending machines only to find that the ramen and muffin wouldn't come out of the machine.  All I could do was just stare at them through the glass and let hunger fill my stomach while tears filled my eyes.

8:35 PM

I settled on Lunchables, a bag of Rold Golds and a Snickers.  Second choice, but better than nothing.

8:40 PM

I arrived back in the room, and...

8:45 PM

The nurse came in as I was eating and told me visiting hours were over and that they had reserved me a nice comfy naugahyde-covered recliner in the family room three doors down.  Of all the nights Anne-Marie has been in the hospital, I've only been away from her side on two of them.  This would be another.  (as it ended up, they kicked me out of the family room at 6:30 AM anyway to prepare it for use by patients)

9:00 PM

I kissed my wife goodnight and walked to the family room where I dropped like a felled tree on the naugahyde recliner after living through the longest day of my life.

After an uneventful morning, Anne-Marie would be released the next day at 1:00 PM.


Thank you all for joining my journaling of our amazing single-day adventure.  I have one more story from that day, but I'll save it for later.

Thanks most of all to the people who came to be with us at the hospital.

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