6:00 am. Fred drove to the hospital, even after two days of no food and the colon prep that wipes you out. He had to be weak. Still, he stopped and got me coffee on the way. It was dark, before dawn. My good friend came over at that awful hour to spend the day with the girls while we were gone. I hope she knows how much that meant to me.
This hospital is top of the line. The best of our American healthcare system. How fortunate we are to be here. New, modern, spotlessly clean, efficient. The personnel are professional but friendly and...human. Refreshingly so. Fred was taken in for "processing" right away and I was able to go with him. This pre-surgical business--paperwork and payment, bloodwork and IVs, more colon prep, interviews with nurses and doctors and then more nurses, each of them with a different job. One of the nurses was so likeable she immediately put us at ease. Fred had her laughing when he told her what exactly got him in this predicament to begin with. He told the story of how he had inhaled his dental appliance. She was quite shocked. She said, "Why didn't you choke to death?" Fred answered that it was a miracle. This nurse then raised her hand in the air and exclaimed in a loud voice, "You are a blessed man!" Yes, he is. God reminded us he is here and that he is in control of everything.
The anesthesiologist was very humorless though. He seemed very competent and serious, and that's important too. He asked Fred, "Why are you here?" Fred said, "I'm having an appliance removed from my colon." The guy didn't bat an eye and didn't ask for further explanation. After he left the room Fred had me in tears laughing as he joked, "He didn't even ask what kind of appliance! A hair dryer, A mixer? And he didn't ask how it got there!"
9:00 am. Even though Fred and I had a few of hours to be together pre-surgery, too soon he was given an IV drug and they started to wheel him out. I asked the tech, "Is this good-bye?" Yes, I was told. A quick kiss and Fred is rolling down the hall. He is gone.
Tears spring to my eyes and I rush outside, cold and shaking. I call Joan. She knows what it's like because she's been here. She's the one caring for my girls and right now I need to hear their sweet voices. Then I go back inside and wait. I remind myself, Jesus is here.
10:20am. I check the computer screen and see that Fred is already in recovery! It's only been an hour and twenty minutes. The doctor had predicted it would take two hours. Ten minutes later the doctor comes out smiling. He says everything went just fine. He found the appliance and it is out. Then he takes hold of both of my shoulders and looks me in the eye. "I do have one concern though." WHAT? Then he tells me the hospital doesn't carry the correct dosage of one of Fred's heart meds, so he will have to use his own from home. That's a concern? The surgeon leaves. I am awash in relief and gratitude to our gracious God.
1:15 pm. What is going on? They told me an hour, maybe two, in the recovery room. The women are so patient with me when I keep coming up to their desk to ask about Fred. Finally, he is taken to his room. I stand outside the door while they get him settled. I don't recognize his voice. It is deep and harsh from the anesthesia. Morphine drips into his vein and he is falling in and out of sleep.
2:40 pm. Fred's nurse is gentle and soft-spoken. She knows how to calm worried family members and assure patients they are doing well. She asks me how I'm doing. Then she says, "We're here to care for your needs too." She brings me a glass of cranberry juice and puts her arms around my shoulders. Her kindness causes more tears.
4:40 pm. About a week and a half ago Fred asked his boss about a full-time job at church. Right now he is only working two days doing maintenance and he really enjoys the work. Fred can fix just about anything. I've heard from others that going to full-time is near impossible and, in fact, Fred was told just about the same thing. But as Fred was lying in the hospital bed half conscious, his cell phone rang. It was his boss offering him a full-time position with benefits!
The next day. Fred had a very rough time that first night. I felt awful leaving him there alone. He was in pain and very restless. The machines beep constantly waking him up everytime he would drift off. But he made it through the night and the next day. He's hungry. No real food this whole week. He is up walking in the morning though and I'm amazed at his quick recovery. He is not taking any narcotics, insisting they remove the morphine drip that kept his mind hazy and his stomach upset.
The second day. Fred was in rare form demanding this and refusing that. He wants out. He was supposed to have only clear liquids but finally the doctor relented and let him eat. Breakfast, then lunch. Then they said one more meal and if he tolerates that he can leave. He ordered his dinner as soon as possible, ate it and then his doctor came in. The surgeon said in his 30 years of practice he's only had two other people who went home the second day after this particular surgery. We packed up and left.
What a journey this has been. Only three days real-time, but it seems like a faraway trip when you leave your routine and daily schedules and all that is familiar to go into this other world of hospital-time. Fred is home resting. Keeping him down long enough to heal properly will be a challenge for me.
We are grateful to God and to each of our friends and family members who offered support every step of the way. Thank you!
Another homeschooling mom took the girls on Thursday and Friday to give Arielle and Liana a break from staying at the hospital with me all day. She and all the kids collected beautiful fall leaves and glued them to a poster board. Then they wrote out this verse in big letters: Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10.) It turned out to be a giant get well card. As we propped it up in Fred's hospital room, I knew God had surely answered. This was the verse we prayed for him before the surgery.