Today we went to Royal North Shore Hospital for a pre operative appointment in preparation for surgery on 19th November. The department aims to have all the consent forms, information, bloods taken etc in readiness for the day of admission. Alarmingly we were met at the reception desk by a staff member with the name badge – Death!
I settled in the waiting area with a large coffee to read a Home Beautiful magazine.
Hospitals are notorious for being too warm so the large coffee just ensured I had more hot flushes than the flashing lights on a Christmas tree. I had my accent colour cardigan on and off, I was up and down, dressed and undressed like a run way model only I’m small and chubby in Royal North Shore Hospital, I’m not in Milan, London or New York!
Anyway the health professionals are competent and we adhere to their pre operative planning system, seeing the anesthetist first then the surgeon, answering questions and listening, readying us for Emily’s tricep surgery . This is the first operation in a potential series that will hopefully give her more function in her right arm and ultimately some wrist movement and a thumb pinch.
Emily is understandably reticent as her post operative recovery will immobilize her for weeks and slow targeted arm physiotherapy could possibly lead to some atrophy of her other working muscle groups. The only way to think about the surgery is the long-term gain rather than short-term inconvenience. Still it is easy to say and as Emily reminds me “it’s not your surgery”
I have tried my hardest to be neutral in my council to her, discussing the pros and cons and not allowing any unrealistic expectation to creep into our dialogue. I am aware the gain will all be Emily’s but if there are complications, any loss of function will be all hers too. The decision must rest wholly with her, with informed consent. I can see she is nervous and my stomach churns with anxiety, I am praying for viable nerves and a stimulate-able tricep muscle. A nerve transfer to tricep would lead to a shorter recovery period than if Emily undergoes a deltoid tendon transfer to tricep which involves being immobilized in plaster for weeks.
We wait. The cheery lady within the wall mounted TV is telling the hushed waiting room about final expenses insurance – apparently we can all get $$ if we die insured, sounds lovely but I can’t think to do the paperwork right now. We have waited so long that I’m actually hoping nurse Death calls us next.
After roughly 3 hours Emily is released into the rainy evening. All is set for her admission next week. As her carer I am rather a ghost at hospital appointment’s, as I’m not required to interact because Emily can advocate and answer for herself so I follow around in Emily’s shadow, quiet, unassuming like a bag lady with our picnic, drinks and always with her Medicare card at the ready . At least I read the House Beautiful magazines so feel well-informed and in vogue – in vogue for 2001!