Preparation for my surgery took up my entire Tuesday night. But not in the prepare myself for being operated on kind of way; more like the prepare the house because my mom will be here kind of way. I cleaned the kitchen and did our laundry and washed my sheets - I did what I could to make the house as presentable as possible on the eve of what would be her first visit to the house I call home.
My car's significant oil leak presented a problem for me, in that I needed to get to Wal Mart to stock up on snacks and items that I'd be needing while I was unable to leave the confines of my house. Not only was I going for food, but I also intended to pick up the air conditioner I'd need for the bedroom. Billy and I have thus far lived in an air-conditioner-less bedroom, surviving the hot nights with a fabulous window fan, and generally staying out of our sunward-facing, second story bedroom during the daylight hours. My mom had commented, last week, that I'd probably be quite uncomfortable post-op in the heat of our bedroom, so I threw out the notion of a window unit air conditioner to Billy. "I hate air conditioning," he said, shaking his head. "It makes my throat hurt, and we have to keep the windows closed, and that sucks for smoking."
"But," I argued, "we keep the windows closed all winter and you're fine with that."
"Yeah, but now is the time we can actually air it out. I really just don't want an air conditioner."
So, I figured, since he said no, I'd go buy one and maybe even install it myself, on the condition that it would be removed after I'd recovered.
But my car wasn't cooperating. There's something obscenely embarrassing about having to check your oil in a crowded Wal Mart parking lot. And I wasn't all that thrilled about having to pop my hood and possibly add a quart or two of oil while a good two-thirds of my townspeople walked by. Also, what if I ran out somewhere between home and the Supercenter, and my engine exploded. I didn't need that. So I scrapped the idea. We could live without Baked Lay's for another few days. And I'd just have to live without AC.
But Billy called on his way home, early, from work. I told him I'd been busy scrubbing down the house, and that we have new sheets on the bed and clean clothes in the closet. "Aw, babe. That's awesome. Hey, when I get home, why don't we drop your car off at the mechanic, and I'll take you to Wal Mart, and," long, resigned pause, "we'll pick you up an air conditioner."
I nearly shouted with glee.
And so we went, picking up a cart full of easy-to-prepare food and other various accoutrements for my three day sit in. He hefted the air conditioner into our cart and, almost to himself, said, "The things I do to make you happy." Oh, and he does.
We installed the window unit upon our return to our newly-clean bedroom. I say "we," but he did the actual work. I held open the window and passed him screwdrivers and foam window buffers. And then I kissed and hugged him to the point of disgust for being so kind as to not only get the air conditioner, but also to install it immediately.
Wednesday morning we woke up (in the delicious, cool, air-conditioned room) and prepared for surgery. I showered and shaved well (to avoid the inevitable sloppy shaving the hospital would try) and steeled myself for surgery. Although, I did a horrible job of steeling myself: I couldn't help crying over the intense gratitude I felt for Billy installing the airconditioner, and then over the fact that I accidentally spilled Billy's coffee all over the bedroom floor. "Relax," Billy said, clearly frustrated over my hyperactive emotions. "It's okay. Don't cry."
"I'm not," I cried, wiping my eyes with one of the paper towels from the roll he was using to clean the carpet. My mouth wouldn't cooperate with me, and kept insisting on turning into a frown and quivering. "It's just that I haven't smoked in two days. And I think it's making me too sensitive." I flopped backwards onto the mattress and stared up at the ceiling, unbidden tears rolling down my cheeks.
"I know baby," Billy said sweetly, his hands full of coffee-stained paper towels, as he leaned over to kiss me. "It'll be over soon."
My surgery was scheduled for 11:30. We planned on leaving by ten, and informed my parents that we'd be at their house then. And, just as I picked up my bag to head out the door, my phone rang.
"Laurie, this is Mary from the hospital. How are you?"
"I'm okay," I said cautiously. I immediately checked the clock, trying to decide if maybe my surgery was scheduled for 9:30, and I'd heard them wrong and now I was late.
"Listen, your doctor is running behind schedule, so we can't get you in until 2. Do you want to wait and come in then, or are you starving and have a headache and want to just come in so I can start your IV and get you prepped?"
"I'll come in," I said, with authority. I knew that sitting at home would only make me slip and take a drag of a cigarette (that Billy was kindly smoking out of my presence) or a sip of water.
"Okay, just don't come in before 12:30, because I don't even have a bed for you yet."
I told Billy, then called my parents. "We'll be leaving at 11 instead. They're backed up," I said.
"No problem, sweetie," my dad said.
And so I laid on the bed, took of my toenail polish and watched Switch with Billy.
We left right on time, heading over to my parents' house to lead the caravan of cars that made up my parade for the day. Billy and me in the lead car, Mom and Daddy in the middle, Chase pulling up the rear. And we drove, all in a line, the hour it takes to get to the hospital.
We walked through the sliding glass door that lead to outpatient surgery, filling up the quiet hallway with our loud voices. I headed to the check-in desk, my posse of loved ones behind me, got my little bracelet and my paperwork, and we headed to the waiting room.
We took up a whole section of seats, the five of us, sitting there talking about memories, making jokes. We giggled over everything: My lack of makeup, the fact that I brought a purse and a bag of stuff, complete with change of clothes, for a two-hour operation that wouldn't require an overnight stay. We tried to stifle the laughter that erupted when a man of roughly 80 hobbled through the waiting room wearing a mesh shirt, basketball shorts and Teva sandals. "Damn," Billy whispered loud enough for the other four of us to hear, "I was going to wear my mesh shirt today."
While we giggled and waited, time crept by. Having not had anything to eat or drink (even water) since before midnight the previous day, I was starting to become uncomfortable. My mouth was dry, my belly growled to remind me it was there. A headache was beginning to form, due to lack of food and caffeine. One-thirty, two-thirty...Sitting in an uncomfortable seat, waiting for my turn.
"This reminds me of a sitcom," Chase said, turning his body to face Billy and me. "You know where, like, one of the characters is in the hospital or something, and the whole episode is flashbacks? That's what this is like."
And it was. We all laughed about our roles, and I glanced again toward the side of the room the nurses came from. "But if they don't call me in soon, we'll be reminiscing here overnight. Or, worse, some other day." I checked the clock again. "I'm, like three hours late, here."
"They'll get you soon," Mom reassured me.
And, just like that, my name was called. I gave an over-enthusiastic "WOOHOO!" and jumped up, not unlike the audience members of The Price is Right do when their names are called. But the nurse's solemn shake of her head quieted my celebration. "Don't tell me I have to be rescheduled," I said, eyebrows furrowed.
"I need to talk to you," she said sadly.
We sidled up to the check-in desk, me with my cotton-mouth, my comfortable loose fitting clothes, my no makeup, my polishless toes, my prepared-for-surgery mindframe, her with her scrubs and a look of regret. "We had two emergency cesarean sections, and another one that was scheduled. We have a girl in here before you, and she's been with her IV for two hours. We have to take her today, because she's ready, but we can't even operate on her until 4:30, at the earliest. Then it's another two hours for her surgery, meaning we can't operate on you until 7, at least."
I stared at her. Maybe I blinked a few times.
"Now," she said, her smile sympathetic, "we can still do you today, but I'll be honest with you: I wouldn't want her operating on me at seven or eight o'clock at night, having been operating since six this morning. And that's almost twenty-four hours that you've gone without food or water. You can do whatever you like, but I think you should reschedule."
It made sense to me, to not want to have a surgeon digging around in my abdomen after working for over twelve hours straight. But I was all ready. I was ready to go under, ready to have the surgery. I'd blocked out three days for my recovery. I'd adjusted my work schedule. I had finally mentally prepared myself, sitting in the waiting room. Suddenly, I was no longer scared, no longer nervous or worried, just ready. And now I was being re-fucking-scheduled.
I resigned myself to the fact that it was the best and only option. "Let's reschedule."
My poor family, Billy included, sat there, all of them having taken the day off of work to sit there and wait for me, only to find out that there was no big pay-out. No big shebang. No fucking surgery.
I headed back toward them, my shoulders slumped and dejected. I couldn't help the tears in my eyes. Again, for the third time that day, I was crying. I laughed and gestured to my eyes. "I don't know what this is all about," I said. "I should happy. I can smoke now. I can eat. I just really wanted to get this over with."
Billy wrapped his arm around me. "It's okay. It'll get done."
I just felt so freaking bad. "I'm sorry you guys came all this way for nothing."
My dad closed his magazine. "It's okay, sweetie."
But it's just so fucking my luck to go in for an operation and then not get it. To stress out for weeks about a date, and then have it moved on me. In She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb, the main character does the same thing, worrying over her first day at college for months, then shows up that day only to find that she had the date wrong, and admission was still a week away. She was thrilled that she'd avoided her dreaded college experience, but upset because it just gave her another week to worry. That's how I felt. Simultaneously relieved and disappointed.
SO, that being said, my surgery is now scheduled for next week, and I'm just going to forget about until then. Although I am back at square one in terms of being ready for it, I'm not going to stew in worry and nerves. If my situation were risky, they wouldn't have told me it was no big deal to wait another week. And I think everyone is pretty sick and tired of hearing me talk about it. So, for now, things are back to normal.
For another week at least.