Two weeks ago, I was looking forward to a fun-filled weekend with my hubs and kidlets – a Monster Jam show for my son, a little Nana & Pop Pop time for my daughter and then wrap it all up with the big game, the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Instead, it all changed when barely after midnight Saturday morning, I felt a pain I had never felt before.
Fast-forward to 6:30 AM: I was being wheeled into the operating room, prepped for emergency surgery. I wasn’t sure where to look – there were lots of doctors and nurses buzzing around. My head was dizzy from following them all. I saw the clock on the wall and just focused on that. I watched the second hand rotating around its face. Time was ticking by and it seemed to go by so fast.
Had it really been merely five hours earlier that I was in bed lying next to my husband when the pain in my abdomen became so unbearable that I woke him and told him I needed to go to the emergency room?
Luckily, it wasn’t a busy night at the ER. In fact, there was only one other patient there and she was being transferred, so I got to see the doctor right away. I didn’t have a fever, I wasn’t nauseous and aside from the pain, I didn’t feel “sick.” However, the moment the doctor touched my stomach the pain was unbearable. He told me he was sending me for an MRI, but it seemed likely that it was my appendix. I was given two vials of some plastic-tasting drink, a shot of dye into my IV and then off to the MRI. It took longer for the tech to take me to and from the actual MRI than waiting for the final diagnosis.
They quickly confirmed it was my appendix. It was severely inflamed and they told me I was lucky it hadn’t burst. But it had to come out: surgery would be imminent. The doctor said he would go make the arrangements with the surgeon, but before he left I asked if I could use my cell phone.
It took me a few tries to get my home phone number correct. My hands were shaking and I kept dialing the wrong number. After dialing the correct number, The Hubs picked up the phone and asked me “what time is it” and “where are you?”
I told him “It’s 4:30 and I’m still at the hospital. It’s my appendix and they’re going to send me as soon as possible to surgery.”
There was a long silence from each of us.
I lay there on a gurney in the empty ER, fighting back tears so I could hastily make arrangements with my husband. I told him I’d call my sister and ask her to come over to the house ASAP. He would call his brother and ask him to do the same. We both agreed that it would be best if my husband would stay home until the kidlets got up that morning, and explain that mommy was sick and had to go to the hospital.
As soon as we hung up the phone my tears started to pour out. Sure, I’d been to the ER many times before, but never for myself. I had been there holding the hands of my kidlets for the various bumps and bruises they got from falls, with my hubs when he got a nasty lung infection, and recently when both of my parents dealt with serious illnesses.
Now it was my turn, but no one was there with me to hold my hand. I had never felt so small, alone or scared before in my life.
Though I’ve birthed two children, I’d never had an operation in my life and certainly had never been put under full anesthesia before. I didn’t know what to expect. I met about a dozen different technicians, nurses and doctors who all came at me asking a million questions:
Could you be pregnant?
When was the last time you ate food?
If necessary, would you want a blood transfusion?
Are you allergic to any medications? What about latex?
All your personal items, including your wedding band and engagement ring will be put in the security safe, if something were to happen to you, who should we release the items to?
Who is your next of kin and can you give me their cell phone number?
One of the nurses, sensing and clearly seeing my fear tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry, getting put under is nothing. In fact, it’s probably the best sleep you’ll ever get.”
My mind, however, wandered to dark places, imagining a string of terrifying scenarios. “Will I ever see my family again?” “What if something happens during the operation?” “What if I don’t wake up?”
Yes, it started to seem like the beginning of a tragic Lifetime movie. All I wanted was to have my husband there with me, holding my hand. At that very moment my Blackberry buzzed with a text message. It was from my husband. It said, “I love you” quickly followed by “I will be there as soon as possible.” The moment I read that, I got a total sense of zen-like calm. He was holding my hand – virtually at the moment, but he would soon be by my side and all would be okay.
I sent him a text back, saying “I love you too” and send this picture:
As I looked at the clock in the operating room tick away the seconds I thought, the kidlets must be up by now and daddy’s probably telling them about me, they’re thinking of me and I’m thinking of them…they were holding my hand too.
The next thing I knew, my name was being called. I was in the recovery room. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was a clock – now it was 8:30 am and as I groggily looked past the clock and the nurse, I saw my husband being brought to my side.
The first thing he did was hold my hand…