Of any surgery or important news, waiting is long and hard, especially when it comes to someone you love.
We found out in May that my husband had a medium, or golf-ball sized, diaphragmatic hernia and the waiting game began…
As soon as we knew about the problem the wait seemed to last forever. We knew the hernia was just getting worse as we waited and we didn’t know at that point when it would be taken care of – we had no surgical date yet. Our thoughts were full of worry and stress. (We couldn’t help it!)
We met with a cardiothoracic surgeon in June and he told us this surgery was high up on his priority list, but there would be no openings until the beginning of August. We would either have to wait for that date or get a call about a cancellation.
But seriously, August!! That was a lifetime away with the looming of a possible emergency surgery. My main concern was that we would not be able to withstand the wait; that we would end up in the emergency room before the scheduled date; that the situation would get serious and we could lose him. Why couldn’t time go faster?
Of course when you wait for anything, staring at the clock, time goes by so slowly. Every day we would prepare for a phone call that would tell us to come in right way because of a cancellation, but that call never came. We tried to pass the time with family activities which included going to the zoo and hiking at Grassi Lake (our favourite hiking trail). Obviously we took it easy as best we could.
We also wanted to have good family time with our babies.We took them to Calaway Park with my brothers and my mom.
And even tried to teach the 2-year-old to ride a glider bike, just in case.
We wanted lots of full memories of happy time with our family because, to us, that is the most important. Even with all this time, filling the wait was killing us. It was always in the back of our minds that things could go wrong.
Now, finally, the wait is over.
This past weekend was the major surgery for my husband to get his diaphragmatic hernia fixed. It was only a few hour surgery, but the wait was 7 hours.
We woke up a 4 AM to be at the hospital at 5 AM.
Seriously, who books these things? Not only are you stressed the night before and can hardly sleep, but you wake up every hour wondering if you’re going to make it on time (at least if you’re like me). We were exhausted and nervous.
After 2 hours of the same questions over and over and a few brief reviews of the surgery he was off into the operating room. More waiting.
Uncomfortable chairs line the large airy room. I had my stroller for my littlest love and so many snacks I couldn’t possible eat in the allotted time, but what else are you supposed to do? I love eating snacks. I buy special snacks to eat for this occasion (that I don’t actually eat because I am busy waiting…)
As I sat there and sometimes paced the room to help my baby have a nap I figured out that the time I have spent in the hospital waiting and visiting in the past 3 years is upwards of 200 hours. And that’s not including our first child’s birth or the week my preemie baby was in the hospital.
Can you believe that! I feel overwhelmed with that number because I know there are so many people who spend so much more time than that also waiting in the hospital.
It makes me wonder why the hospitals would not try harder to make the waiting atmosphere better, more comfortable and enjoyable. Maybe then the time would pass just a bit more quickly. It’s already so hard not to be thinking of our loved ones and what they must be doing at that very moment but how will it help anyone if you are also tired and sore just from the waiting of it all. Stress already does a number on our bodies.
In the Foothills hospital it was very new to me to have a chart with colour-coding to know where my husband was. I was at least a little put at ease knowing where he was and that there was progress happening right before my eyes.
Also, I was lucky enough to have a surgical liaison nurse assigned to call me every 2 hours to update me and tell me what was going on. Although the nurse did not really know exactly what was happening, she did know how it was going.
Another difficult part came at the end when we knew he was out of surgery and they would be moving him to the unit he would be staying in, but it took 2 hours for the move so my thoughts turned to complications. Actually the risk for complications in this surgery was relatively high so it was not out of the question (and we are still not out of the woods as he is healing now).
I sat at the entrance of the unit where he was assigned in more uncomfortable chairs and worrying people in similar situations were there waiting too. Here though, no more update screen to see and nothing to do but worry and wonder what was taking so long.
In his first major surgery, when he donated his liver to his dad, we waited 5 hours after the surgery was actually done because they could not get his pain under control. So in light of this, my concern was that the same thing was happening and that he was in considerable pain. I feel so bad when anyone is in pain and there is nothing you can do. So when he finally came to the unit I was relieved.
He was so tired and so was I. A long day of waiting (and with a baby) makes you so worn out. I was actually a little happy when I could see he was way too tired to see anyone, including me. His exhaustion was so bad he could hardly open his eyes which was expected. It is always little disappointing after all that wait to not actually be able to see him for very long, but it feels so good to know he was okay and he is going to start to be better and heal.
We still have a long way to go in the healing process and probably many more checkups and doctor appointments to wait for, but I feel so happy to know that this is now taken care of. I am optimistic that this will be the last surgery he will need for this problem.
Waiting always sucks, but the end will come.