How the day panned out: Short version: Surgery went well, and Chelsea’s feeling a lot better already. Long version: Keep reading…
We arrived at the hospital a little before 6:30 this morning. Chelsea was still in her room and the lights were out, but she wasn’t sleeping. She was turned over on her side and moaning in obvious pain.
“We’re here,” I announced.
“I know,” she answered.
We didn’t talk too much before her surgery because clearly she didn’t feel like talking. Joseph, her night nurse, came in to check her vitals, trying to be quiet, and she told him, “It’s okay; I’m not asleep.”
She mentioned to him that she was in a lot of pain, and he said, “Since you’re getting ready for your surgery, I’m not sure what I can give you.”
Before long the transport nurse was in her room, unhooking all her machines and getting her ready for the long trek down to pre-op. She said she was just going to take her in her own bed; that would be much easier on Chelsea than to transfer her to another one.
Chelsea said, “Take it easy on the corners.” The nurse said something like “Don’t worry. We won’t run you into any walls,” but Chelsea meant that she was feeling sick and was afraid the trip downstairs would make her throw up. The nurse asked if Chelsea would like to take a bag (vomit bag) with her just in case and grabbed one on the way out the door.
The nurse was a little gal, and I had to help her maneuver the bed through the door, into the hallway and through a couple more tight spots on the way down to the first floor.
When we got to pre-op, the pre-op nurse introduced herself as Cathy, and I asked her if we had spoken on the phone before maybe. It seemed to me that someone named Cathy had been Chelsea’s post-op nurse after one of her recent surgeries.
I saw a chair on the other side of Chelsea’s bed and sat down in it so that I could see her and she could see me. The nurse was busy doing all the things she was supposed to be doing to get Chelsea ready for surgery.
Before I knew it Chelsea’s eyes got very wide and she put the bag up to her mouth and started throwing up. “Get out,” she said.
Then she threw up again and repeated, “Get out.”
I quickly got up and left the room with Chuck in tow. Immediately I realized I had left my crochet bag with our books and stuff in it beside the chair. I hurried back in and said, “I forgot my bag.”
“I’m sorry,” Chelsea said weakly.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” I said. The nurse escorted us out to the waiting room and said she would try to get us back in before Chelsea went to surgery.
We signed in at the same-day surgery desk, and the attendant gave us a slip of paper with Chelsea’s patient ID number on it and the name of the surgeon. Up on the wall was a flat screen with patient numbers, doctors’ last names and which stage of surgery the patients were in. At any time we could find out what was going on by looking at the big screen.
The pre-op nurse came out at 7:31 and said they had already taken her back and she was sorry she didn’t get us back in to see her first. She said, “We gave her something for her nausea, and then they gave her something else for her anxiety. She’s feeling pretty comfortable right now. As they were wheeling her into OR she raised her fist up in the air and said, ‘Woo hoo!'”
We laughed. It sounded just like Chelsea. She was relieved to finally not be in pain or throwing up.
The big screen told us that the procedure began at 7:51. The nurse had told us that we had an hour and a half to go get something to eat if we wanted.
We went to Corner Cafe and were back in plenty of time. It was nine or after when Dr. James sent for us. He told us the bowel had indeed been twisted and that she should be seeing immediate results as far as pain goes. Of course, she would have the post-operative pain, but the other pain from the twisted bowel would be gone. He went over the other standard stuff with us, and we went back out to wait for Chelsea.
She was in recovery for quite a while, an hour or so, and then they called and said she was put into the system for transport back to her room and should be back in her room in thirty minutes or so.
After that call, Pastor Jeremy called and said he was ten minutes away from Centerpoint and asked if we were still in the lobby. I said we were, and he said he would see us in a few.
He had been there probably fifteen or twenty minutes when the post-op nurse called and said Chelsea would be up to her room in a few minutes and that we could go on up to wait if we wanted.
She looked a little loopy, of course, from the anesthesia, but, on the whole, she looked much better than she looked before she went into surgery. She said she already felt better than she felt this morning. She said her anxiety level was less than it had been the previous two surgeries. “No tears this time!” she said.
Chuck and Pastor stepped out as the nurses were all scurrying around her, checking her blood pressure, hooking up her machines, and getting her situated in her bed with pillows, etc. I asked one of them to get her some ice water for her mouth swabs, and then I started offering them to Chelsea when she motioned for them.
I was so happy to see her face and so happy that she was feeling better. There will be the post-surgery pain to deal with, but I think she welcomes that after what she has been experiencing, particularly in the past few days.
It will be a couple of days before she can eat, but she’s already thinking about food. When I gave her the second or third mouth swab, she mentioned, “See, that tastes good. Before, everything I put in my mouth tasted awful. Last night I wanted to eat my Arby’s so bad, and I tried.”
“I bet that orange pop tasted good to you, didn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “until this morning. Then I wished I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything.”
We left her at about 12:25. I wanted to get back to Higginsville to at least drive my afternoon route–because, surgery or no surgery, bills still need to be paid. Chuck was able to take a paid vacation day for today, but to bus drivers vacation days only come in July and August and the only pay they get comes in the form of unemployment.
We were talking briefly after her surgery about all the thoughts that come into one’s head before surgery. I told her I could relate because when I had my first C-section I had never had anesthesia before, so I had that nagging thought that, what if I never woke back up?
Chelsea added, “Right, because you never know.” Then she said that before every surgery she always thinks about that horror story that my sister told us about some guy who went into surgery and woke up half way through and could feel everything they were doing to him, but couldn’t speak or move.
I said, “Yes! That is a horrible story to tell anyone who has to have a lot of surgeries!” I think that would go through my head, too. I shudder to think about it!
This morning the peace kicked in and I was so thankful to God for it and grateful to those who were praying for peace for me, but last night was hard for me. I was thinking, “Okay, I trust God, but bad stuff still happens. Godly men and women still have to go through terrible things. Look at Job. He was a godly man and he lost, not only one child, but ten, all at the same time. And there was this one guy we knew, a wonderful husband and father to three daughters, if I remember, a very godly man, and he got stomach cancer and died. And all kinds of people were praying for him.”
I surmised that trusting God did not mean that something horrible was not going to happen, and I was grappling to reconcile the meaning of trust through pain and trial. So it became a question of whether I was trusting God that something horrible wasn’t going to happen or trusting that God would pull me through it if it did. I decided it was easier to trust God that something horrible wasn’t going to happen, but realized we don’t get a choice which kind of “trusting God” we get. And I didn’t want to think about the other kind of “trusting God” before the fact.
It’s easy (and marvelous) when God gives us a glimpse of how He was working things out even during the “bad” moments of our lives (when those events are already in the past), but I catch myself thinking up scenarios of why God WOULD (hypothetically) allow this or that–when it hasn’t even happened, yet. And I started thinking about how God allowing me to think about stuff that MAY happen before it actually happens would be kind of like “breaking my fall,” as in falling out of a window and hitting a tree or something before you hit the ground.
Too much thinking and too much rambling, I know.
Chelsea just called. She is feeling a lot better and sounds a lot better. She also said, “Guess what! I have ‘output’!” So things are “moving along” even better than we expected. I suspect Dr. James will be very happy to hear about that tonight or tomorrow when he comes in.
Thank you again, everyone, for your prayers. It has meant so much.