Wednesday, July 3, 2013

We Made It

Well, we made it!  We traveled to Houston and back in just over 24 hours and Shawn's
surgery was deemed, so far, a success!  It was quite the whirlwind of a week but we made
We left early on Thursday morning and made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Houston, just Shawn
and I.  My beloved aunt kept the girls for us and I only cried for about a minute after
we dropped them off, a new record for me.  I overpacked, as usual, not knowing exactly
how long we would be in the hospital and not wanting to have a repeat of last year's
experience in which I was stuck at the hospital for 22 days with only two pairs of pants.
Not cool.  This time, I would have lots and lots of pants and plenty of books to read, too.
We arrived at the hospital in Houston with plenty of time to spare and only minimal
anxiety from the crazy traffic (country comes to town and all).  We were nervous but
excited to meet with the specialist and get a plan rolling.
The doctor came in with zero personality and even less bedside manner: characteristics
we have grown accustomed to from surgeons.  He confirmed that Shawn needed surgery
as soon as possible due to the nature of his injury but said that he would not be able to do
it until July 11 because his schedule was packed.  He told us what we already knew: that
July 11 was actually too late from the date of the injury to perform the surgery.  Tendon
repair must take place within 1-2 weeks of the injury or you risk scar tissue forming,
turning the surgery from a simple repair to a major reconstructive surgery.  The surgeon
was completely nonchalant about all of this, saying, "Sorry, that's just the way the dice
roll sometimes.  I'm a busy guy and this is a big hospital.  You'll just have to wait and hope
for the best".
Shawn, the case manager handling his case, and I all stared at this gigantic asshole of a
doctor with disbelief.  Learn anything about compassion in med school, doc?  The
case manager asked if the doctor would mind giving the case to another doctor, a doctor
who could hopefully perform the surgery sooner rather than later.  "I don't really care.
I'm packed regardless" he replied as he strolled out of the room without even looking at
Shawn again.  The case manager apologized emphatically, reassured us that she would
do everything in her power to get this all situated, and then left the room.
Shawn looked at me with his big brown eyes, "Babe, what....?".
"I know, I know.  Just pray.  Right now.  Pray hard".
And pray we did.  We both bowed our heads and I recited every single prayer I've ever
learned in my 33 years as a Catholic.  Please God, please let this work out.  Let Shawn get
the medical attention he needs.  Let us get through this.
And just as I was finishing yet another Our Father, a new doctor walked in.  He was
smiling, shook Shawn's hand, and got right to the point.  "Don't worry", he told us, "we're
going to squeeze him in tomorrow morning.  He needs this surgery as soon as possible
and we're going to make it happen".  He gave us a quick, concise summary of what the
surgery would entail, what the recovery would be like, and what we could expect down
the road.  He allowed us to ask a few questions before turning everything back over to the
case manager.  Shawn and locked eyes: we liked this guy immediately.  This was the kind
of surgeon we needed on our side.
Things moved pretty quickly after that as we were shuttled from one part of the hospital to
the next getting all of the pre-op requirements done.  By 5:30, we had everything on
the surgical checklist complete and were headed to our hotel to drop our things off
before going to dinner.  Shawn requested Tex-Mex, we were in Texas after all.  We ate
WAY too much, damn that no eating or drinking after midnight rule that makes patients
think they have to gorge as if they'll never eat again.  We paid for it later, dearly, with the
worst heart burn either of us has ever had.  And of course, even with all my overpacking,
I forgot to bring the damn bottle of Tums that has followed me everywhere for the last
month.  Pregnancy fail.  I spent most of the night awake, in the bathroom, swearing to myself
I will never eat salsa again.
We were up before the sun and the first people in the CVS parking lot: Tums and Pepto
and saltine crackers for the win.  We made it to the hospital at 7 am as instructed, all of
our paperwork complete.  And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  We
made friends in the waiting room, watched Court TV, and dozed on each other's shoulders
as we waited.  They finally got Shawn back into the pre-op holding area at 10:30 and we
fell into the familiar routine: gown open to the back, consents signed, allergies and
prior surgeries.  We were complimented multiple times for our calm and cool
demeanors.  "We've been through a lot worse", we said as we looked at each other
knowingly.  So much worse.
They ushered me into yet another waiting room as they wheeled Shawn away, one more
kiss for good luck.  And again I prayed for my husband's safety and well being.  And I waited.
By 2:30, the surgeon came out to greet me and reassure me that everything went well,
surgery went just as he'd hoped, and Shawn was doing great.  They performed a nerve block
on his arm which is basically like an epidural.  He would be pain free for the next 12 hours
or so.  I was allowed to visit him in the post-op holding area and he was wide awake,
drinking water like a champ.  "Can we go home tonight, please?  I'm just ready to be home
and in our bed and with our girls".  Since this was an outpatient procedure, the doctor gave
us permission to drive home that night and return a week later for a follow up
appointment.  Even though I was tired from my night of digestive hell and my day
of uncomfortable waiting room shuffling back and forth, I eagerly agreed to make the
drive home.  Nothing sounded better than waking up on Saturday morning in our own home.
And so while the nurses completed the post op requirements with Shawn, I ran downstairs
to fill his prescriptions, get the car, and stock up on water and Powerade.  He refused to
be wheeled out in a wheelchair, walking up to the car with steel determination,
or stubbornness, depending on how you look at it.  And off we drove.  The Lithium
channel cranked on Sirius, the passenger seat made comfy with pillows and his
favorite blanket, we cruised the 4 1/2 hours home.  He stayed awake the whole time,
wanting to keep me company despite my protests.  Wanting to take care of me just a little
bit, too.
We got home a little after 10, Belle and my mom waiting for us at the door.  I washed him
up, gave him his meds, and put him straight to bed.  I sat with Belle and my mom in the
kitchen and told them everything that had happened, relieved that it was all over.  We made
it through another surgery, another trip, another part of this long story of recovery.
We laughed and enjoyed our time together regardless of the circumstances and we managed
to fall just a little deeper into love with each other. We made it, babe.  Now get some
rest.  You've got some healing to do before the baby gets here.
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Deanna Fike said...

i'm glad you were able to get a different doctor! and happy you made it back home, safe and sound.

i know my story isn't near as severe, but when i went to the dentist for my tmj last week, i saw a new guy. and he was a total tool. completely arrogant and just a jerk whenever i asked him questions. when he prescribed me muscle relaxers, i asked him if they would make me sleepy because i had two kids to take care of. he started laughing at me! these doctors need to take a course in sensitivity training.

Caitlin A. said...

Ugh, it's so awful how some doctors (particularly specialists/some surgeons) don't care about bedside manner. So glad you got a different (better) doctor and that he's healing. <3

Vanessa said...

That first surgeon sounds like a Grade A A-hole, pardon my french. So glad an actual human being was able to take care of Shawn, and so quickly, too. You must feel so relieved.

Olivia said...

We were so glad, too!! It was like a night and day difference between these two doctors, I swear. But things worked out and we were so happy with who we ended up with!

Olivia said...

Thank you! Surgeons are notorious for having zero personality but that first guy was a real downer. SO relieved it all worked out!

Olivia said...

Oh, isn't that the best? When doctors laugh at you? Jerks.

Sara said...

So glad things switched around for you all and ended on such a good note, all things considered. Seems he's well on the path to holding that sweet baby boy with both arms in not so many weeks! :)