After a short period in the Family waiting area at HSS, I was called into Pre-Op prep wing. Following my nurse we walked passed room after room of patients waiting anxiously in their beds. Peering in between the curtain dividers I would catch a snap shot of their emotional roller coaster, as each person road highs and lows before entering the OR and everyone was a different point along the ride. People who seemed happy were at the beginning of the roller coaster, slowly ascending the chain link rise that would end in a free fall of emotional chaos. The suspense would build as different hospital members would enter the partitioned rooms, with a new
repertoire of questions, however one question was stuck on repeat, “spell your name” seriously? I have a photo here of a sign that HSS put up explaining why they would ask easily a hundred times to “spell your name.” The doctors, nurses, techs, and OR prep teams would bustle in and out from curtain room to curtain room creating a hustle similarly found on the streets of New York. Coupled with the sound track provided by the machines wired to each patient the beeps, pings, & bops were enough to drown out the sounds of the subway during peek hours. It was impossible to focus or relax, someone new was always introducing him/her-self asking my favorite question following it with some kind of test possibly blood work, blood pressure, sign some documents, listen to what we are going to do, when did you last eat, last drink, and finally the scariest question, if anything should happen to you during your procedure do you have a proxy and who will carry out the execution of your medical needs should that time arise. instantly the cacophony of noise disappeared silence strangled you to speak challenging you to say something of merit and just then in that instant it felt like everyone in the OR prep area was staring at you and your decision about your soul.
Just moments after that you are asked to say your good byes and you do but somehow after the intensity of the questions and the realization that something could go so horribly wrong that life support questions are being asked the good bye is no longer as simple as it once seemed. Hugs are strong, long and meaningful. Kisses are soft, tender, and passionate and the hand holding is steadfast, the fingers interlock and grip tight till the gurney turns a corner and the OR team states that is as far as family can take you. A knot blocks your airway you cannot speak, you want to be strong but you look so weak dressed in a gown and OR socks, double doors burst open with a hydraulic whoosh, arctic cold air slaps you in the face, taking what feels like your last breath away and suddenly you let go of everything, you realize you are in the OR, listening to the surgeon’s orders to lay down on the table and wait for the anesthesiologist. Just as began to become aware of the medical team in spaceman-esk jump suits prepping for your surgery along with all the machines, tools, and instruments being sterilized; you lay back on the table to the tune of a radio playing a familiar yet foreign song in the OR the anesthesiologist looks down into your eyes and asks you to slowly tell him your name and before you can finish answering the question of the day, you are drifting off on a never ending river of deep dreams that conspire against you to cover up the fact that you are having your hip resurfaced and just then in that instant you wake up in a different place, a different person, and with a whole different feeling in your body.