The mind is a complex machine – full of knowledge, memories, and emotions that sometimes lurk silently beneath the surface. This was made loud and clear for me this week as I found myself sitting in a hospital waiting room for the first time since my mom’s ruptured brain aneurysm.
Although I was there for a routine procedure for my husband, I couldn’t fight back the emotions and memories that flooded my mind as soon as I caught a glimpse of the tiny TV situated in the corner. If you’ve been in a hospital lately, you know the one. It shows the patient name, doctor name, and where in the procedure they are: in waiting, in operating room, in recovery, etc. I stared at those TVs the first day of my mom’s 27 day hospital stay, waiting for the words “In recovery” to appear. They didn’t for over 24 hours.
Sitting in the waiting room this week – in a completely different hospital, for a much less stressful situation – those same feelings of fear, sadness, and anxiety bubbled over. I couldn’t fight the tears from welling up in my eyes. I lost it.
A few minutes after they brought Luke back for his procedure (and after my waterworks first started), a nurse came to the waiting room door and called my name. The surgical schedule was delayed a few minutes, giving me a bit more time to visit with him before his procedure. I fought back the emotions to the best of my ability and followed the assistant to the “holding room.” As I walked through the doors, the emotions and flashbacks got more severe. Patients waiting in hospital beds – some sleeping, some coughing, all covered in white blankets and hospital gowns… machines beeping, the sterile smell of a hospital room. I walked back to where Luke was, and seeing him with an IV attached and hospital gown on was too much for me to handle.
The last time I saw one of my loved ones in this setting, it was my mom. Her head shaven, her face swollen, and several IVs providing her with the relief she needed to recover from brain surgery. The constant fear of stroke or increased fluid on her brain plagued our thoughts for a month. Thankfully, miraculously, we got the best possible ending from her hospital stay. And while it’s true that “All’s well that ends well,” this past week made me realize the events that occurred in the middle of it had more of an effect on my emotions than I thought.
When it was his turn to go into the operating room, I kissed Luke and told him I loved him before I made my way back to the waiting room. With red eyes and a runny nose, I made about 5 trips to the bathroom to try to calm my nerves (and stop my tears) within the 30 minutes that it took for his procedure to be finished. I basically stared a hole in that TV screen waiting for “In recovery” to appear. I felt embarrassed to be such a wreck about the situation, especially after hearing two other women in the room talking about their husbands’ health issues: one who went into complete renal failure and suffered a heart attack, one who struggles with lifelong diabetes and was there getting some sort of lines put in to hopefully delay the need for dialysis. And there I sat, a silly 20-something crying my eyes out because my husband had to have a camera put down his throat.
Not even an hour later, I was called back again – this time to a very loopy and goofy husband coming out of anesthesia. His slurred speech and repetitive questions were much-needed comic relief for the day, and I am thankful to report that the findings from his endoscopy didn’t throw up any serious red flags. Thanks to “Stella,” Luke had two extra days off of work to recover from his soreness from the procedure, and we’re hopeful that his new prescription will help quickly to ease some of his pain after suffering for years from severe acid reflux.
“All’s well that ends well,” and while I’ll be back in the same hospital waiting room in 8 weeks for Luke’s repeat endoscopy to check on his progress, I’m hoping that I’ll be better prepared to fight back the flood of tears the next time around. I am so very thankful for my family’s overall health and for the amazing work performed at hospitals every single day (even if they do cause me to have emotional meltdowns).
This week is Brain Awareness Week. For more information on brain aneurysms and the progress and benefits of brain research, visit the Brain Aneurysm Foundation at bafound.org.