Thursday, December 15, 2011
The Two Longest Hospital Procedures
My buddy Greg took me aside before my craniotomy surgery, looked me straight in the eye and said, “John, the two longest procedures in any hospital are ‘checking in and checking out.’”
At the time I said something like “Greg, that’s sage advice. Thanks.” While thinking to myself “ Huh?” How could that be?”
I now know that Greg was right.
Yesterday my wife checked out of the hospital. Her operation went according to plan. There were no unexpected or unpleasant surprises. She handled the anesthetic just fine. And the physician’s assistant told her first thing she should be able to leave in the morning.
The attendant came with the wheelchair at 3:00 pm or so.
While by the clock, it was only three hours past noon, in emotional time, those three hours were dog years.
When you are tired of being in the hospital you can’t wait to scoot. You keep asking your husband/wife/significant other/mother/deceased aunt if it’s “Ok” to sneak down the back stairway.
The four walls and constant stream of hospital employees tramping into your room don’t stop just because you’ve changed into your “street clothes”, you have your jacket on, and you have your newspapers under your arm.
If you’re like me, that exit day is exhausting. I’ve not gotten much sleep. The aseptic walls and bathroom seems more like a cubicle in a large office than a comforting place of health restoration.
Even after we got our exit visa…err discharge papers, the nurse left to call an attendant, got swept up into some other issue and, a half hour later when we asked, admitted that she hadn’t called an orderly.
Every time I leave a hospital, I have some sense of what a prisoner must feel when they get released. It’s a giddy, unmitigated feeling of “Yippee!” combined with an impatient urge to get out of the parking lot as soon as possible before they change their mind.
And we did.