Friday, May 09, 2008

Thumbs Up



We arrived at the hospital in the pre-dawn hours to find a waiting room jammed full of patients whose arrival time was clearly before our 6AM call—talk about cruel. The great thing about the early arrival time was that the drive from Jersey to Manhattan at 4:30 AM is pretty much traffic free. And really, the day’s proceedings went just as smoothly.

Notes from DG in the OR as told to VDB:

How many doctors does it take to fix a thumb?
It seems that Dr. Melone, my surgeon, travels with a posse of 3 hand surgery deputies. I reiterated my medical history to two of them pre-surgery, asked a few questions. I’d already donned my attractive gown and robe—why can’t they make those things match, although that might just make them double ugly. Then there was the anesthesiologist, two surgical nurses—I had a very well attended thumb.

When I walked into the OR, one of the young scalpels was engaged in a hot conversation with an OR nurse about the prior night’s episode of the Real World. The other nurse said she was not of the MTV generation and worked on getting me strapped onto the table—not one of my favorite positions—and settled under a warm blankie.

While they prepped my hand with the betadine manicure, the conversation turned to which franchises would be the best to own. Guess it’s a sign of the times—even doctors are trying to line up their side gig. One said Subway ‘cause they had the formerly fat guy who sandwiched himself to thinness. Someone else suggested Cinnabun—guess that’s for when Jared has a relapse. I said those buns smell better than they taste. That’s when they upped my anesthesia—I don’t remember much after that until the recovery room, when I first encountered my hand strapped to its new furniture. The good news is that it really didn’t hurt too bad and I was back in civvies and out by noon.

Thanks for the prayers and well wishes and I’m working on being back in top typing form soon.

Notes from VDB in the OR Waiting Room:

I had no posse of supplicant, surgical residents, no generation spanning nurses. There was no snappy conversation about investment strategy. I had no drugs either. What I had was a room full of about to be patients and their anxious or obnoxious designated persons—or the morning traffic report on TV which was focusing on a sign that looked like it was going tumble onto the highway during rush hour. It didn’t.

So I did what any self respecting writer would do in similar circumstances—I pretended to read while actually secretly observing the folks surrounding me. Believe me a hospital waiting room is a great equalizer—random diversity at it’s best and most basic. Voices (whiny, gravelly, loud), accents (some identifiable others not so), attitudes (snarly, obliging), wardrobes (mostly What Not to Wear Anywhere), tics (a nose picker and a hair chewer), hair styles (I’m not even going there), laughs (nervous, cackling), snores (from a morbidly obese woman who went out to smoke every 20 minutes or so, then told our room monitor that she was going to check her blood sugar —duh?!) and sneezes (itty bitty cartoon like). I was making mental notes about family groupings, couples, parents, friends, those who were alone (was someone really coming for them or were they lying about “their person” showing up later?) All of this data collection was in the name of research of course—for future characters in future books (and you ask where we get ideas!) I wasn’t being nosy—well maybe just a little bit.

And I did read. I finally finished Middlesex right before I was told by a haughty hospital bureaucrat wearing purple scrubs that I would be allowed to visit Ms Grant in recovery, but for 10 minutes only. “Don’t make me have to pull you away from the bedside!” he warned.
Was he kidding? But he didn’t know how much time we spend together. My 10 minutes would be quite enough thanks. All I needed to see was that DG was fine and that they had operated on the correct appendage on the correct hand so I could make the appropriate assuring phone calls to her loved ones...which I did.

Half hour later we (thumb furniture and all) were in my car heading back to Jersey.
I did have to buckle her seatbelt for her.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 3:36 PM

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