Thursday, January 3, 2013

Confessions From a Hospital Waiting Room

I am sitting in a hospital waiting room (again) waiting for my son Benjy to come out of surgery (again). This is the 8th time in the last 4 years that I have waited for my husband or one of my sons to come out of a general anaesthetic, from procedures as routine as wisdom teeth removal to complicated heart and brain surgery. 

You'd think it would be easier each time. 

But no. It is not.

From the moment you give birth, you assume incredible responsibility for your child.What they eat, how much they sleep, how much stimulation and social interaction they receive..

 Their health - emotional and physical is in your hands completely.

 Each time you relinquish control over an aspect of their lives, a piece of you goes with them...

 ....their first day at pre-school, their first sleep over, their first day at grade school, sleep away camp and so on.

Each time you put them in another adult's hands, you hopeand pray  that they will take care of them as you would.

But somehow there is nothing like handing your child over to a surgeon, knowing there are inherent risks in anesthesiology and surgery and yet doing it anyway, because you believe it is in their best interests.

I watch as my son morphs from college student to surgical patient.  As he swaps his shirt for surgical gown.As the pieces that identify him - his glasses, his smile and his phone are replaced with a surgical cap, woozy eyes and blood pressure cuff. 

I find a spot on his face to kiss him goodbye that is not hidden by tubes and leave him to the nurses in green.

I know what to bring -my tea, my laptop, my book, my paperwork, my phone. I watch the slightly drunken wall clock, tilted to one side. It is only 7.10 am. We have been here an hour.

 And then it is 11.00 am and the surgeon is crouching by my chair, explaining about tying the ligament, about excruciating pain and pain meds and the size of the tear in his shoulder. 

And all I can think, is that I have learned that surgery is just the beginning, not the end of this problem. That the plan he is laying out for Benjy's recovery stretches from hours, to days to weeks and months. 

But at least, Benjy's care is back in my hands. I just need to rummage  in my bag for my "care-giving"  hat and put it back on again. 

It has hardly had time to gather dust. 

I know many of you have waited whilst your loved ones or children had surgery. What was it like for you?

Thank you for all your messages of support. Each one is greatly appreciated.


You can read about why Benjy needed surgery here.

You might also be interested in 

Caregiving Part 1

Caregiving Part  2

Love in The Time Of Crisis ( reflecting on my husband returning from brain surgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia)

 Please email me at or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback. 

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  1. 8 times in 4 year!? Oy Gilly, that is way more than your fair share. Sending you lots of love and best wishes for a full and speedy recovery for Benjy. And a full and speedy retirement for that care-giver's hat. xxx

  2. Thanks Rachel for your good wishes. I tried to put that care-giver's hat out to grass a number of times! Oh well. At least I am perfecting the art of caregiving ,if there is such a thing......
    Love Gillyxx

  3. Thinking of you all Gilly. Hopefully a reasonably fast recovery for Benjy.
    That caregiver's hat has certainly been well used.

    1. Thank you Liz. Yes luckily it's not completely worn out!

  4. We are thinking and praying for Bengy's full recovery, but also we pray for you to recover of (body and) spirit.
    I cannot imagine the toll this takes on your body, your mind, your spirit.
    All I have known of you is resilience and determination, clear-headdedness and dogged determination to barrel through when necessary. You are amazing!
    Again, I feel lucky and proud to call you "friend".

    1. Well ,thank you Kara! I think you don't really have a choice. When it comes to taking care of people you love you do keep barreling through-there is no question in your mind. Afterwards, when everyone is better -well that's a whole other story!! But I haven't had too much time to find out what that's like.....So much is possible when you have amazing friends to support you, who believe in you and tell you so. That vocal, physical and emotional support helps you to keep going, when things are particularly challenging.

  5. Gilly,

    You know that I have a soft spot for Benjy! So please give him an extra hug from me.

    Your strength through all of these events is unbelievable. But I think that goes with the territory of being a loving mother/wife. No choice but to step up to the plate. When we love- we just do. I hope that 2013 brings you some time to catch your breath finally. Much love, Tobi Bassin

    1. Tobi -I will certainly pass on your message to Benjy -I think the feeling is mutual since you were his first English teacher in the USA 12 years ago!

      I agree with you about stepping up to the plate ( I even know which sport that phrase comes from now!) -I think I responded as much to Kara ( see above) .

      Thank you very much for commenting and for your warm wishes.
      Love Gillyxx

  6. Definitely sounds you have had more than your fair share. But sadly, life isn't fair. We can rail against Nature's indifference, but ultimately we have to soldier on if for no other reason than others are counting on us.
    The Serenity Prayer which I think was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous always seemed to me to be a good way to approach life's tribulations:
    "God, Give us the grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed, Courage
    to change the things which should be changed,
    And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

    You seem fairly serene to me, given what you have had to cope with.

    1. Richard -For sure these things are not dealt out equally. i certainly reflect on that in my post a while back called Pondering On the Porch.
      Serenity and courage are an important combination, very different but come from the same place inside of you and I think you need one to find the other. Thank you for commenting and for your support. I appreciate it and I know Jonny does too!

  7. HI Gilly, you found a perfect description for the wall clock "slightly drunken wall clock". its true, When I was hospitalized a few months back, when I look at the clock it felt like it was sooo slow and fast at certain times. and the clock's face seemed like its watching you like somewhat drunken and weary and tired but continued to do its job tick- tock- ing all through.
    I admire your motherly strength, so unselfish, so gentle, so nurturing. Keep being strong on your ground and stay positive. Cheers!!

    1. Dear Maria Ana,
      Time is a funny thing when you are waiting for someone to come out of surgery or a phone call. It goes so slowly. But that same chunk of time can whizz by when you are watching a good movie or out with friends!
      Thanks very much for your support.

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  10. Hi, Gilly!

    When your kids are in danger, the whole world is out of control. I'm glad he made it through the surgery well. And I hope his recovery is smooth. Lots of love to you!