Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pre-op

My father and my step-mother, Nina, came into town a few days before my surgery. We wanted to get them into the swing of the kiddos' schedules before just blasting them into our chaotic life. Since we were in an apartment, they stayed at a nearby hotel for three weeks. (One of the many things I will forever be grateful and indebted to them for).

I had a pre-op appointment at the hospital a few days prior to surgery. I went to this one alone because I really wanted to get my wits about me, I wanted to take stock of my emotions and get an accurate read of what I was feeling. While I was in the pre-op waiting area, a woman about my age was sitting with her mother. It was obvious that her mom was battling cancer. She had her bald head covered with a pink scarf and had a few cancer awareness pins on her shirt. Again, my thoughts immediately went to a place of thankfulness. I was so grateful to be able to do this without a cancer diagnosis. I could get through this without the fear of chemo, radiation, extreme sickness and struggle. I was in a good place, and I knew I needed to be doing this.

I was still sitting next to the two ladies when an older hospital worker walked by. This gentleman was wearing scrubs, sneakers, and a lanyard and matching scrub hat with Florida State Seminoles all over them. He was also wearing the most genuine smile one can have. I'm a Florida Gator, but seeing the familiar FSU rival at that moment was just another reminder that life was so precious. There are so many things, big and small, that make life worth fighting for. I was going to do my part to give myself the best odds to be around for my family. (And for sure I was going to have this all behind me before the Gators kicked off college football season in the Fall.)

The mother sitting next to me saw the gentleman and immediately called him by name and burst into tears. He had the same reaction to her. They had the most beautiful conversation and I was so happy to have witnessed it. He just hugged her, cried and said, "you were in such bad shape the last time I saw you. When we wheeled you back, I left you and then I just prayed and prayed for you. I really didn't know..Look at you now!" She went on to tell him that she was so scared sitting there and had been praying to see him. She was convinced that he was her good luck charm. She was on the road to recovery and now she knew she was going to be ok. She said every time she had been in for surgery, he had taken her back. Here he was again. I said a little prayer right there. I wanted this mother and daughter to be healed from the pain of cancer, and I certainly wanted this beautiful soul to be the one to take me back when it was my turn for surgery.

My pre-op appointment consisted of bloodwork, massive paperwork and lots of instructions. The nurse gave me a special cleansing soap I was to use the morning of surgery, along with a very sweet, reassuring compliment. It really touched me how many people at the hospital came over to tell me how brave they thought I was. I was honestly just thankful that I was able to do this. To me, the bravery was found in the mother and in every other person fighting, every day, to beat their illness.

The morning of surgery, my Dad and Nina came before the sun was even up. We had to be at the hospital by 6am. I kissed my kiddos and parents goodbye and off we went.

My husband, Jamie, and I were sitting in the same seats I was in when I witnessed the mother and daughter. We didn't say much. Partly because Jamie isn't a big talker, but mostly because I was praying and praying for that sweet precious man to be the one to walk me back. He was. I had told Jamie about him and I'm sure he realized who he was when I jumped up and gave that man a big giant hug when he walked through the doors to get me. Then I noticed he was wearing a matching scrub hat and lanyard for a different football team. I don't remember what team he was wearing that day but I do remember our conversation. I asked him about it and I told him about seeing him the last time I was there. He stopped what he was doing and told me how yes, he is a huge fan of college football but he doesn't have a team. He was on God's team. He just loves the sport. Every day he wears a different team because it makes somebody else's day. It brings a smile to someone who is usually at the hospital desperate for one. Anything he could do to bring a genuine smile and make a heartfelt connection with someone, he wanted to do it.

That sweet man certainly made my morning an experience I was grateful for. I was so thankful to have met him and to have spoken with him. He was doing his part to make the world a special place. He eased my nerves and he probably did the same for Jamie. He settled us into the waiting area, then he went on to work more magic.

I was called back, and then things began moving much too quickly for me to feel anxious. Jamie had to remain in the waiting room but I was assured that he would be back before I went into the operating room. I was given the standard hospital gown and my first of many anti-anxiety meds. Think what you will about anti-anxiety medication, but they were so helpful that day to me. I wasn't even all that embarrassed about being in my glasses in front of my adorable plastic surgeon, and I. Never. Wear. My. Glasses...Ever. I did have a serious heart to heart with my nurse about the glasses though. I begged her to make sure they were in place, on my face, before I even woke from surgery. I have horrible vision. The thought of coming to after surgery and not being able to see or reach for the glasses was very frightening to me. She assured me that it wouldn't be a problem.

I don't remember my breast surgeon coming in but I do remember chatting with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Robbins. He was in after a steady stream of nurses and the anesthesiologist. He did a quick debrief with Jamie about things and that truly is the last thing I remember.


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