Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cancerarma: A funny thing happened on the way to surgery

Yesterday, I asked you all to pray for my friend who was having oral cancer surgery at the Ottawa Hospital.

Your prayer must have worked because today she's sitting up in a cushy private room, with all her toys around her: the cell phone, a television delivered immediately to her room, and her iPad. You might say, "Wow, she looks excellent considering she had an eight hour operation which involved resecting her tiny mouse mouth. It's like they did nothing at all to her!"

If you were thinking that, you would be half right.

You see, she didn't have the surgery after all.

That's because minutes before the surgeons were able to get  their mitts into her mouth, she fell. Fainted in the bathroom. Hit her head.

I was expecting to hold her hand, look into her eyes, tell her everything was going to be cool, and then retreat to Starbucks for a bun and a cup of cappuccino. Instead, I was rushed to her bedside, as her eyes rolled into the back of her head. A big bump was percolating on her head.

She looked at me and said, "Did you remember to pack my slippers?"

The nurses looked like deer in the headlights, as they rushed around, and hooked her up to every machine imaginable. She had the blood pressure of a rattle snake. Her face looked luminescent, her eyes akimbo.

This was not good. Not good at all.

The anesthetist and the surgeons all looked at each. They didn't know what to do.

"Do we need a neuro consult?" one asked.

"Maybe we should phone the E.R."

The phone rang and the anesthetist answered.

"I consulted my colleagues, and one said we should go ahead, the other one said to stop," he said. "To be honest, I'm really not sure what to do."

"What do you think?" the surgeon asked us. For a split second, I felt like Dr. Gregory House. Meanwhile, my friend was still looking for her slippers in her head.

In my best authoritative voice, I answered.

"I think we should go ahead. She's been steeling herself for this for weeks and it's scared the bejesus out of her."

We sat there watching all the other patients bid goodbye to their loved ones. We were the last ones, like we got to the airport ten minutes too late.

In the end, she didn't have her surgery. We spent the day in emergency instead.

It seems the head bump was fine, but her sodium and electrolytes were seriously low, and so the docs decided not to operate. And that was why she is sitting pretty in a private room at the Ottawa Hospital today while a murder of internists surround her bed, drain her fluids and inject her with new ones.

I wondered what would have happened if she hadn't bumped her head. Would they have gone ahead?

That is my question for them today when I go back to the hospital. I suspect -- or hope at least -- that they would have tested her levels that morning, but who knows?

In any event, it didn't happen. And that's a good thing. As I explained to her, she was like a car that had no oil, or no water in the radiator. She's been chugging along for months on fumes. By the time the surgery actually happens, she'll be topped up and ready to roll. She'll have had the 66 year bumper to bumper.

So by the time she actually has her surgery, she will be in shape for it.

I realized later, the angel must have given her a nudge. She was trying to protect her from imminent and undetected danger.

As for me, my appointment with Starbucks never happened. I had to settle for bad cafeteria coffee and a bite of my friend's shepherd's pie which appeared to have been molded out of leftover pate.

Surgery will have to wait for another day.

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