Wednesday, July 9, 2008


This past Thursday, I spent most of a day waiting.

My younger brother had told me his surgery was scheduled for 8:45 am. Since I have priviledges at the hospital I knew he had to be there two hours prior to surgery. So I showed up at 7:45 am. My intention was to get there after he had done his admission paper work, but before he went into surgery. He had ask me to be there, so I wanted to be sure to be there before he received any drugs.

There was no sign of he or his wife in the waiting area. They had not checked in, so I began the day waiting for them.

Turns out his surgery was scheduled for 10:45 am. He had been told to arrive at the hospital at 8:45 am. "We never tell the patient a surgery time. We don't want to confuse them. They might just arrive at the hospital when the surgery is scheduled. That would delay everything."

While I sat waiting, I listened in on conversations around me. [It's hard not too hear the conversations.]

7:50 am "Can you believe they don't have orders for me?" an elderly woman (EW), who was also waiting, said to her husband. "It's no fun being off your blood thinners and heart medicines when you need them?"

7:55 am "The nurse in the OR called. She said B_ is still in surgery, but everything is well. So we came in at the right time." A middle age woman (MAW) to her father and son. The cigarette aroma suggested they had been outside for a cigarette break.

8 am Morning prayer over the intercom. We're in a Catholic Hospital. I see my brother and sister-in-law come in.

8:15 am Dr. B_ (my brother's doctor) came out to give a report to C_'s family.

8:45 am My brother and sister-in-law go back to preop.

9:25 am "Finally, finally." a woman who is being escorted back to the preop area.

"How long have you been here?" asked a fellow waiter.

"Since 5 o'clock." She answers.

9:35 am My sister-in-law hands me her bag, "I have to go get medicines. They need milligrams and we don't know milligrams."

"I'm getting so mad at them. They lost my orders. There's no sense in that." says EW. [I've heard this repeated multiple times by her and her husband this morning. I have heard how the doctors office has faxed over the orders three times this morning, but the hospital staff keep repeating that they haven't received any of the faxes. They can't find the doctor's orders.]

9:45 am "B__ H__" hospital employee.

"Yes" EW

"Follow me" and escorts her back to preop. I'm glad to know they finally got her orders.

10 am "This is Cindy. Belle's daughter." said the MAW who had earlier come in from the cigarette break.

"Who was that?" dad asked daughter.

"Mom's preacher." talking loudly to her dad.

"The doctor said that things went well and if things continue to go well, she'll probably go home in 48 hours." Cindy says to the person on the other end of the line. She then repeats the conversation to several others on her list.

10:35 am "Ramona, J__ wants you to come back." So I follow the nurse back and listen to her. She tell him and my sister-in-law what to expect as the day progresses. She talks to them about what to expect when he gets to recovery and then the postoperative area (he's outpatient). She covers some postoperative care/expectations. I am impressed with her.

10:45 am The orderly comes to get my brother. We all follow him to the OR suite and wait there. Dr. B__ comes in and marks my brother's right hand (the surgery side). I tease the orderly about asking for a bonus based on number of miles/day walked. He likes the idea, but doesn't think the hospital would go for it.

10:50 am "I need to go to the bathroom" my brother.

"Let me ask the nurse if it's okay if we help you." me

She nods okay (she's on the phone), so I lower the bed. The orderly happens to walk back through the area and takes over for me, locks the bed and carries the IV bag as he walks my brother to the bathroom. He waits for my brother and walks him back.

11:00 am "I'm L__. I'll be the circulation nurse in the OR today." She goes through her questions (allergies, what are we doing today, etc) and then tells us it will be about an hour. Maybe less, as Dr B__ is usually quick. I give her my cell number, so I can take my sister-in-law to get something to eat. She had skipped breakfast since my brother couldn't have any.

11:45 am We're back in the outpatient waiting area and my cell phone rings. "We're done. Dr B__ will be out in just a few minutes." She was right about that.

"Everything went fine. I think it is benign, but the path will take about 4 days to come back. If it's not, then we'll do scans. He may need some radiation treatments in that case." Dr. B__'s report on my brother.

So now like Carol, we make our phone calls to family members. We divide the list. Then we wait, talking about the new grandbaby (their 25 yo daughter just had a baby girl), commenting now and then on the news reports (missing girl, etc), .........

12:45 pm "Ramona. He's asking for you." says a nurse.

"This is J__, his wife. I'm his sister."

"I must have misunderstood. You can both come back."

He looks good. There is color in his cheeks. His eyes are wide open and alert. "Can I have something to drink?"

Now we just have to wait for the path report.


Anonymous said...

My hand surgeon always tells me when my surgery is planned for which is always his first case.

The last time I had surgery my wife brought a box of sugar cookies in the shape of hands, with finger-nail polish, and told him not to get crumbs in the incision.

rlbates said...

NTSC, I love the thought of those cookies. You could really get creative and add rings.

Dreaming again said...

Very interesting post!

Since i'm the one that's had 15 surgeries, I'm not usually the one on the waiting end. (only 2 times, mom's hip and knee replacements)

My poor family! Waiting is so difficult.
You're right, though, it is interesting to listen to the conversations around you ...

Anonymous said...

The OR staff named the hands to match various patients of the surgeon.

On follow up visits my wife did feet, Doctors in scrubs and hand saws. She has brought our Dentist, who is married to my hand therapist cookies in the shape of teeth, with cavities.

Dr. Raskin and I have a history going back to 1989, I was his 159th patient, and he has operated on my hands about 10 times, often with multiple incisions. I've very agressive Dupuyten's contracture.

In any case I've been lurking on your blog for a while, probably having found it from a food blog and do enjoy it.

rlbates said...

Thanks you, NTSC.

mark's tails said...

hoping the path is benign.

rlbates said...

Thanks, Mark. No news yet.

Anonymous said...

Let us know how things go, Ramona. I'm sorry to hear he's had to have this. I hope you guys get a good report.

rlbates said...

I found out last night that the path came back a benign cyst. So great news!