Saturday, December 15, 2012

Though I walk through the valley..., part 1

"Erica Robinson!" "Erica Robinson!" Over and over this insistent voice keeps calling my name. I open my eyes and look into the eyes of the male nurse who was in charge of my recovery from the O.R. He has blue eyes and short cropped sandy brown hair with a blue net over his head. I think his name is Kevin. I smile and whisper, "I'm here." He smiles back and I drift back to sleep. I wake again and look at the wall in front of me. A large analog clock reads 6:10. I stare at the gray wall and the grey clock with it's white face and black hands. Thoughts jumble into cohesion. I am alive! Heaven does not look like this, nor sound like this, with it's moans and soft cries and people gagging around me. Gratitude courses through every vein and I thank God for the grace to see this night, to be here on this earth still wife and mother. Surely, if I had died, I would not care, but to be granted to live a bit longer fills me with gratefulness. I drift off again. In and out. I recognize that I am in a ward of some kind. It is surreal, like something out of the 1930s. I can not feel anything, not even my eyelids, but I can hear everything, especially the older gentleman whose moans do not diminish. This is not the special "woman's hospital". I am in the main operating recovery ward (PACU) for Baptist hospital. We are lined up in our rolling hospital beds, each with our own nurse. Mine is busy texting someone. I see his head bent down over his hands holding the black rectangle of an iphone. I know that I am hooked up to a multitude of machines, so I do not mind that he is not focused on me. He is there, if I need him. I wake up again and am in my room. Hubbs is there and my doctor, L M. She is debriefing me on the surgery. I lost over a liter of blood. The surgery took much longer than expected. I am o.k., but they are going to keep a close eye on me overnight. I struggle to focus on her face. She had come in before surgery and prayed with me. It brought tears to my eyes, to know my surgeon prayed and committed us both to God's hands, the Master Physician. Her face is taut and pale. I realize that my surgery had frightened her...the extent of the extra blood many more than expected. Each needing to be carefully cauterized and dealt with. I imagine my uterus gone haywire, like a Medusa, spreading out feeding tenacles that all needed to be meticulously clipped and cauterized, not one allowed to remain, lest it drain the life force out of me. I shut my eyes to force the image from my mind. Hubbs squeezes my hand. My doctor's voice is a disconnect from her face: chatty and extra perky. I open my eyes again and thank her for praying for me and for doing such a good job on the surgery. She smiles again and says some more, but my mind is drifting again. T is here. Ahh. Sweet relief. My friend and cake instructor, who also happens to be a retired nurse is here to watch over me tonight. Hubbs can go home. T will make sure that I am turned, moved, medicated, etc. She will not let me drift back into the valley of death. At least, not without a fight. The other surgeon comes in, Dr. S. He's wearing a fleece camoflage jacket. He's like a sparky terrier, complete with brown curly hair. He holds my hand and rubs the veins hidden in my pale skin. "You lost a lot of blood today. I don't like your color still. Too pale." He smiles softly and then begins his debrief in a short, professional manner. He did two of the four surgeries. They were supposed to be the more complicated ones. They were done, of course, but not to the complexity that he may have wished, due to the blood loss. Alarmed, I ask if he was able to do the job the way he had described pre surgery. He patted my hand. Even to me, my hand looks like melted wax. "Yes, just not to the extent I would have preferred. You had lost too much blood, and we couldn't take the risk." He smiles all around and leaves. Dr. P, my third surgeon doesn't make an appearance. He had talked to Hubbs, so I don't give it much thought. T moves into full nurse mode and we convince Hubbs to go home. I need him to go home. I need to be able to be in pain and not have him worried about me. I need him to sleep tonight, because I will need him to take of me tomorrow and the next night and for many nights after that. The night goes on, and I wake up every few hours. T is awake each time I glance her way. We smile and talk. She reminds me when I can have medicine and feeds me chicken broth and ice chips. I have funny socks on my legs that massage and pump my calves. How nice those things are. What peace of mind to know they are helping to circulate my blood to prevent clots from forming. There are tubes in my nose, filling my lungs and mouth with oxygen. My mouth feels like cotton and the ice chips are so cool and refreshing. There is an IV in my right arm, in the crook of my elbow. Both arms have bruises. Finding a vein was no easy task. Drawing blood before and after surgery and then also for the IV have left both arms looking like an addict gone loco. Ah, there's a catheter too. My body is waking up. Pain starts to climb the charts. I am safe. I am among the living. T suggests she get the nurse to give me some morphine and adjusts the pillows. Up, down, side to side. All night long, she tends to me. How can I repay this kindness? In acts of mercy, this woman with her calm intuitiveness, with her staying awake to make sure that I stay alive is more than any good deed that I have ever done. It is a debt that I will gladly owe. Peace. Wrapped warm and safe. In the prayers of my family and friends. In a hospital that actively prays as well. I close my eyes again and imagine T and our guardian angels watching me together.

Erica Robinson