It was inevitable! The tumor was getting bigger and more painful. I had to have surgery, there was no way out. Major surgery meant six weeks of recovery time. Six weeks of being limited in my daily activities and unable to drive our children to their activities, but the unspoken fear was, “was this cancer?”
Unlike at the beginning, when I was assured times and again it was a cyst, nobody was taking the responsibility any longer. “Only pathology could tell for sure.”
My first priority was to speak with our Minister, Keith, and made him promise he would look after my girls, should I die… and made sure he prayed I didn’t die!
I prepared the house for when I came back from the hospital. Froze meals, cleaned, laundry. One morning, I even got dressed in a red outfit, not realizing on a tape, red made me look fatter, and I taped myself reading to my kids several of their favorite books: ” The Run Away Bunny,” “Good Night Moon,” several Dr. Seuss’ books, just in case I died.. they would remember their slightly overweight mother dressed in red and reading them children’s books.
I was prepared for the worst, I hoped for the best!
I knew I was in the best of hands, at one of the top hospitals in the country, The University of Pennsylvania. I trusted my surgeon, but over the years, I heard and saw people crippled as a result of an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and let’s face it, sometimes due to the inexperience of the anesthesiologist. After all, it was a teaching hospital! I had to make sure about the anesthesia, to be done by someone experienced because I had small children and I justified in my head, because I had responsibilities I shouldn’t take risks and possibly die. As if it would have been okay for anyone to die! Such selfishness! Unfortunately, I’d lie to make up a story, as I was totally focused on our problems and my fear that my girls might become orphans, alone, with an unpredictable father who broke things out of the blue. I had to stay alive!
The hospital seemed to recognize the importance of anesthesia because two days before the surgery I met with the anesthesiologist. I liked him. He seemed reliable and knowledgeable. I asked my questions and calmly he answered all of them. He even called me the night before the scheduled surgery and I really liked such thoughtfulness. It was reassuring that my fears were taken seriously and respected. I was so lucky!
The following day, Kevin drove me to the hospital.
A nurse took me in the pre-op room, took my vital signs, I changed in a hospital gown and she placed me in a wheel chair and wheeled me in another small room with no windows.
“Wait here, they will take you to the operating room soon!”
She left. I started looking around. Bare walls, some equipment… no magazines. I started hyperventilating thinking of the surgery.
Suddenly the door open wide and a very tall, very handsome and very young doctor dashed in.
“Hi, I am your new anesthesiologist, there were some problems, you know, last-minute changes, so I’ll do your anesthesia! Let me quickly look through your file…”
No! This was NOT happening! He was young… that immediately translated in my mind as inexperienced. He was “quickly” going to read my file! Like, how quickly?
He was leafing through my file. He probably had graduated from a fast-read course but I was definitely not going to trust him with my ovary! Oh no… he was handsome, and I’d have loved to meet him perhaps at the opening of a museum or any party or fundraiser, but here, in the small room leading to the operating room where he was going to perhaps put me to sleep forever… no, the fact that he was handsome had no effect on me! I wanted an older, bold anesthesiologist, preferably with spectacles, because that could have been a sign he studied a lot!
“…and where is MY anesthesiologist, the one I met two days ago, the one who called me last night?” I finally asked him.
For a moment he looked perplexed, as if he didn’t understand what I was saying, or that a voice was coming out of my body!.
“Oh, that anesthesiologist! He was busy, something came up!”
“Really? Like what could have possibly come up between last night and now? Is he sick, is he dead?” I was furious and when I am furious I have no fear or common sense!
The handsome doctor stopped leafing “quickly” through my file and just looked at me in silence.
“And how many times have you done this before?” I continued and the anti-anxiety pill the nurse gave me wasn’t doing its job!
“Did what?” The handsome doctor asked.
“What do you mean what? The anesthesia you were about to try on me!”
“Oh, that! Rest assured I did this several times on much sicker and older people than you! You’ll be just fine!”
Oh, he said “several” like exactly how many times? He said “older and sicker people.” Oh, my God, Pastor Keith was probably not praying hard enough, I was about to become a Ginny pig, I definitely didn’t trust this doctor at all!
“I am not going to do it!” I announced and tried to step out of the damn wheel chair.
“What do you mean? Where are you going? We are ready to take you in!”
“Sorry, I don’t want to die and if it weren’t my life I were concerned about and my kids being orphans, I wouldn’t hurt your feelings, but I really, really don’t want to die! Sorry. I am out of here!”
“I wasn’t going to kill you! I am a doctor!”
“Please wait, I’ll call the chief of anesthesiology,” He announced and dashed out the door closing it behind him.
Did he lock me in? I wasn’t going to try to open the door because if it were locked I’d have really freaked out.
I sat back in the wheel chair and looked at the white walls. My heart was beating hard. I wondered if my blood pressure was up.
The door opened again and the handsome, young doctor came back accompanied by an older doctor, which looked like my fantasy of an anesthesiologist: bold, glasses, middle-aged…
Yes! I liked him. I wanted him!
“I am the head of anesthesiology, I understand you would prefer that…”
“Could you please do my anesthesia? Please? I have two small children, I really can’t take any risks.”
The two looked at one another and the Chief said:
“Sure, I’ll do it, no problem, anything to make you comfortable.”
They wheeled me in the operating room and the Chief asked me to count to ten while the medication was sending me in La La Land…
Who really did my anesthesia I’d never know because next thing I remember was Pastor Keith leaning over my pained body and praying for me.
I was still fuzzy and disoriented but not fuzzy enough to not notice a vase with a beautiful white orchid.
I looked closer. On a small, elegant golden rimmed paper it said: “Get Well Soon!”
Oh, it was probably from one of my many secret admirers… but I had none to know of! I’d never know for sure. So many things I’d never know for sure and I’d have to apply what a very wise woman, Emily told me when I first arrived in D.C. ” Sometimes you have to have suspended judgement!.”
All that mattered was that I was alive and my daughters weren’t going to be orphans. Yeah… he probably did do my anesthesia after all, it was a teaching hospital…
The orchid was surely beautiful!