The Waiting Room

Our beloved family member had surgery on Monday, and it went very well.  So well, in fact, we had to sit on her to keep her from, oh I don’t know, GOING SHOPPING.

If I had to condense my part of the experience it would go something like this:

worry worry worry

anxiety worry worry fear worry

is that food? no? I should eat anyway worry worry munch munch worry

worry I know! I need a slab of cake worry worry anxiety munch munch worry

Oh no! my pants don’t fit sob rend worry worry anxiety I bet what I really need to do is eat more to ease the tension worry worry worry munch munch munch

stuff patient in car worry FEAR worry worry worry

drive worry worry “oh for heaven’s sake, don’t drive past the hospital!” disgust

worry worry worry

This is my brain on “Oh No, A Surgery!”

I thought once we arrived, it might get easier.  I’ve noticed stuff gets easier once you pass the point of being capable of action. (It’s difficult to snatch the patient back once they’ve been whisked away to pre-op.)

I stare around the waiting room.  At first, nothing registers, except it’s pleasant.

Then I panic. Oh God.  The waiting room is pleasant to the point of soothing. There’s the sound of a fountain trickling, the lighting is fresh feeling.  Plants flourish. The walls are a muted make-everyone’s-skin-look-good pink, more suited to a spa or dermatology office. There’s a sculpture.  A book of patient poetry.

The chairs are clean.  Soft.  Pastel printed. I clamp my hand over my mouth.


No one puts this much effort into a hospital waiting room unless soothing relatives is an absolute requirement.

Last year, when the doctor expected an ‘outpatient procedure’ to be in and out, she did almost die. The 15 min procedure went on for 2 hours, then 3, then 4…I had to stop looking at the clock.

I had waited perched on an ancient coffee-stained sofa, wedged in a dark hallway corner. Daisy and Lily both came after I called them in a panic, when the 2 hour mark passed.  We alternated standing and sitting. A large nurses station, populated with harrassed, annoyed nurses, was positioned between me and the operating room doors.

No fountain. No plants. No mood lighting. No magazines at that hospital: they did not expect any problems.

I look up from this memory in horror.

A nurse smiles at me soothingly from the beige-pink counter.  “She’s going to be fine”, the nurse says, with true compassion.

I have to get her out.

The nurse sees my escalating panic and misreads me, saying “She’s already in surgery, don’t worry, she’ll be out in fifteen minutes.”


Thought 2: Where the heck is the cafeteria?!?

Post-Op: she’s fine. It only took 13 minutes. In at 7 am, out at 10:30 am and driving home.  Crossing my fingers for the next surgery.

I really have to find a better way to deal with stress.

For those of you who are not hard-wired to eat in times of stress, what helps you cope?

15 thoughts on “The Waiting Room

  1. I love your post. You capture ‘that’ feeling so well! Stress? I’m also an eater – failing that, anything that occupies my mind. A good book. A puzzle. Talking on the phone.

  2. Friends, preferably friends bearing food who will sit in the waiting room for the duration of the surgery, Who knew? I didn’t…until recently. And when my friends showed up bearing food and a PUPPY! (surgery was at the vet hospital), I understood it.

    But seriously, they only kept me from gnawing my fingernails up to my elbows. I was still a wreck.
    Next time, tell Daisy to bring a puppy.

  3. Puzzles. They allow me to occupy my mind just enough and give my hands something to do. I hope that all goes well!

  4. SO glad surgery went well and the whole experience was so quick and soothing! When I’m stressed out or anxious I knit or crochet. I also eat. But when really stressed my inner knitter takes over and I make hats, hats, more hats and numerous shawls. Then I give them all away. In a pinch, since my family members have so many hats and shawls, I give them to charity.

    I hope recovery goes as well as the surgery. And I highly recommend against shopping right away. When I was in the hospital last year right before Xmas we had to go to the mall to do all our shopping the day after I got home. That experience nearly put me back in the hospital. Ditto the time I went mini-golfing the afternoon after I broke two ribs. It was unfortunate that it was my son’s birthday and I had seven 12 year old boys expecting to mini-golf. Leaning over to pick up the balls was a b****.

    1. KNITTING. Perfect example of why asking for help works. I could totally knit every time I want to eat. Miniature golf after breaking ribs? Bending over? There is no pain killer that can deal with that level of pain. OW.

  5. A mantra helps me, and I bring my Anglican rosary. I get REALLY fidgety when stressed and drive people CRAZY handling anything nearby, I end up dropping stuff, juggling stuff, etc. So the beads keep me busy and give me something to focus on, and they help the mantra stay in focus too.

    Mostly though, I’m best with a sarcastic friend around who will get me doing the macabre humor thing, but I’m weird.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s