Standing in the surgery holding room waiting for them to come get my mother, I found myself watching her every move. I know she felt as if she was on display laying there in a semi upright position in her fashionable hospital gown.
The nurses had already been in to give her some medicine to help calm her nerves, as my father sat at her bedside. I watched my parents holding hands and looking at each other. You could see the love between them, although no words were being spoken. It was hard for my dad to hide the troubled look on his face, but he tried to put on a brave front for my mother.
The time was quickly arriving for them to take her back for surgery, so my father and I gathered closer around to pray for her, the surgeon, and the entire staff that would be assisting my mother during her operation. Then the crew came to whisk her away. My dad and I exchanged loving words and hugs with my mother and tried to hold back our tears as they rolled her away. We stood cemented in that very spot until long after my mother was rolled out of sight. Neither of us could speak, so I just linked my arm in my father’s as I turned us both toward the exit to the family waiting room. Once outside the surgery holding area, I excused myself so as not to further upset my father, who was holding on to the railing staring out the large glass windows of the hospital.
After spending quite some time sitting inside my vehicle sobbing while speaking with a friend, I was finally able to regain my composure. Eventually, I returned to my father’s side in the family waiting area once more. He seemed to be in a much better place emotionally as well, so the break did us good to each process our own feelings.
Four and a half hours is what they originally told us would be the duration of this extensive back surgery. This step was necessary to end the pain my mother had been in for quite some time. When shots and various other therapies hadn’t worked, this step was needed to avoid her being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. My mother said she told the doctor that she really didn’t have a choice in the matter then. She felt she had to have the surgery because she did not want to live the rest of her life confined to a wheelchair. That is what lead up to our gathering at the hospital that day.
After three hours, the nurse came out into the family waiting room to tell us that the doctor wanted to meet with us. She lead us to a long conference room with sterile looking arm chairs where we waited for his arrival. Trying not to think the worst, I just prayed silently that everything was okay. Finally, the doctor arrived to explain that things went well, she tolerated the surgery nicely, and he didn’t think she would have any problems. What a relief! Oh thank you God!
Fast forward to the next day …
My mom didn’t get to go home the following day as they originally planned. They could not get her to wake up, and she developed a fever. Her blood sugar levels were extremely high at 292, with her heart rate and blood pressure elevated as well. My daughter went right away when she learned this and stayed by her grandmother’s side until I could get there. My mother did finally wake up briefly, so my daughter was able to let me see my mom and my dad via Facetime. What a huge relief that was to SEE her face and have her try to talk to me briefly before she went back out again. When my daughter let me see my father’s face, I could see nothing but worry and anxiety all over him. This isn’t what they expected to happen nor what any of us wanted. Yet, it was what was taking place.
The doctors felt that she would eventually pull out of it, but during that time of hearing she was “unresponsive,” you couldn’t help but fear the worst while hoping for the best. All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed, I kept reminding myself.
Arriving by my mother’s bedside to stand once more looking at her in her fashionable hospital gown, I couldn’t help but think of all the times she told us the same story repeatedly. We would laugh and say, “Yes, you’ve told us this several times before …” and yet she would continue anyway just for us to smile back at her and almost be able to recite the story word for word since it was all too familiar. It is times like these standing by her bedside as she’s hooked up to monitors with tubes here and there, with no one really expecting her to require being on oxygen either … when you wish for more. Oh what I wouldn’t have given at that moment in time to hear those same stories on repeat. Please, Mama, wake up now and tell me again all about what happened … please … my heart silently begged.