4:30 a.m. Telephone alarm sings us awake at the Brentwood Motel in Marquette. We sigh. It’s been a long night of tossing and turning–for both of us. Barry has moved from the bed to the couch and back to the bed, attempting to find relief for his weary and aching knees. Kathy has tossed from back to stomach to side to back to stomach to side, again and again and again.
No sleep for the hospital-bound.
We drive through blinking red and yellow lights toward the hospital. The nurses rose even earlier than we; they have been working their shift since 5 a.m. Barry is the third surgery patient; the first with Dr. Matt Colligan this morning.
Later in pre-op they will joke as Barry names him “Dr. Mutti”, the well-known Yooper Finnish name for Matt. He’s been waiting to do that for weeks.
It’s the left knee this time. Please do not operate on the right knee again. But, please, please, may the knee recuperate easier and faster from the arthroscopic surgery this time.
He limps into the hospital, walking oh-so-slowly. I crawl beside him. Please, can I push you in a wheelchair, Barry? No? OK, let’s try to make it to your 5:30 appointment in time.
We crawl down the long OR corridor. Green-suited nurses point out his pre-surgery room. They’ll return in ten minutes to take his vitals and question him endlessly, “Do we have your name right? Birthdate? Left knee?”
They question about his atrial fibrillation. It’s OK, he says. They listen to his irregular heartbeat. They give him one of those fashionable hospital gowns to wear, and would you like footies? He agreed to the green paper footies, but later shook his head at them. Silly footies. But they keep the toes warm.
A “transport” fella arrives to wheel him toward surgery. He takes the bed upon which our patient lies, steering it to the large elevator. His name is Duane. He points out the waiting room on the first floor. That’s where we family members wait.
I remember to kiss him goodbye this time. See you after surgery. Sleep well.
(Lucky him. He gets to sleep for a little while. He questions if it’s the same quality of sleep. Probably not.)
Instead of sitting nicely in the waiting room–which is empty at 6:30 a.m.–I dash toward the coffee shop. Ahhh….a nice Starbucks coffee dolloped with hazelnut cream. A sesame bagel lathered with strawberry cream cheese, what a treat!, lingers in the chambers of my purse.
That delicious book–Once Upon A River by Bonnie Jo Campbell–already has me hooked like a silver trout glinting in a Michigan river. Yet, go figure, here I sit writing a blog. Sans photos, readers, as the camera waits back in the parking garage.
It’s time to go read for a while again. The main character doesn’t talk very much. I am fascinated by her. Maybe someday I will quit talking as much, too.
The doctor will come down to the waiting room in an hour or two, and he’ll show me photos of knees. I will pretend I know what he’s talking about, trying to memorize every word to later relate to our patient.
It’s almost light now. See you after surgery, dear readers, after we’ve tucked the patient into the back seat of the car with fluffy red pillows to elevate the knee. After we’ve driven north and west almost two hours back toward home.