The TV in the waiting room was turned to the food network, and the chef was cooking up risotto balls.
That would have been fine had it been something other than a surgical waiting room, and if the patient awaiting surgery hadn’t been fasting for the last eleven hours. ‘I’m turning that fu*king thing off’, I said to the patient, who is also my sister. ‘That’s okay, ‘ she said staring longingly at the screen, ‘I like risotto balls.’
‘Seriously?’ I asked. Not that I was questioning her taste in food, but I was amazed that someone could watch glistening tomato sauce, gooey cheese and porcini mushroom on an empty stomach. So I sat back down and looked around the room. Was there something else I could do to make her more comfortable? After all, I knew the hospital very well, as I’d been there about 50 times as a patient. And since I was there, for the first time as a non-patient, I felt less as a wingman, and more of a hostess.
Can I adjust the volume, get you a pillow, or perhaps a warm blanket? ( no, no ,yes). But the only thing my sister really wanted was to know that I would be there once she was wheeled into recovery. Would I? Absolutely.
When the time came that my sister had completed the surgery the surgeon came up to us and said that the operation had been a smashing success. In fact, he seemed enormously pleased with both himself, and my sister. I asked if I could go see her but he shook his head no. He said she was ‘dozing’ and the recovery room was crowded and there were a lot of germs. He said I needed to wait till she was moved to her room.
When he left I went to the nurse in the waiting room. I told her I’d like to see my sister and she said, that if the ‘patient’ asked for me, somebody would come up and get me. Otherwise, I had to wait. ‘Come up from where?’ I asked. The paused, then said, ‘the 2nd floor’.
The old me would have sat back down and pouted. But the new me isn’t timid. After all, I’d been there so much that I feel like I practically owned the place. I could walk through like a friggin’ tour guide, pointing out the best bathrooms, lounges, coffee shops, and places to go and cry. And I’d been told ‘no’ so many times by heads behind desks that it had ceased to be effective.
The second floor was practically deserted, as I strode along purposefully, looking for Recovery. I nodded confidently to two men with clipboards as I followed the signs. Eventually I came to a door that said ‘no admittance’. A maintenance man was there and I asked him if I could. He said there was no admittance, so I told him that I’d just left to go to the washroom and been locked out. So he let me in. I turned another corner and found the room called ‘Recovery’. It was practically empty. I asked the nurse at the desk where I could find my sister. Nurse crabby-pants looked up at me as though she’d just found something gross on the bottom of her shoe. ‘Where did you come from?’ she said. I told her that I’d promised Sue I’d be there, and that the Surgeon said it was okay.
She scowled at me, and we both knew I was lying. We also both knew Doc was currently teeing off somewhere, and wasn’t be reachable for verification. So she called out to her colleagues, ‘Is there a Susan here?’ The nurses all ignored her, so I looked around the dimly lit room, full of beds with flat bodies. ‘Is there a Susan here?’ the nurse called out again, as though she was a bad hostess at a cheap steakhouse.
The nurses didn’t respond, but from the corner bed, one tired hand was waving weakly in the air. I rushed over to Sue’s side and took her hand and told her that everything was AOK. The crabby nurse/hostess may have sensed my air of ‘I own this place’ and sidled up to me to make it clear who was in control.
‘When is she moving to her room?’ I asked conversationally.
‘Shortly’, she sniffed. ‘You can meet us there.’
‘Thanks’, I said. ‘But I’m going with you’.
And I did. Grabbing an extra blanket along way.