The waiting room is crowded, but not so much that people have to share armrests, which pleases me. People are scattered about the room. Some of them are waiting for news of a loved one, while others are waiting to be admitted. It is truly a room for waiting. Nancy is sitting to my right, and I'm rubbing her back. She is nervous, as she is about to have surgery on her foot, to remove a hallux valgus and the bunion it is causing. This will be done via an osteotomy. Basically, a bony bump at the base of her big toe needs to be removed. She wouldn't let me do it with my home podiatry kit, so here we are.
While I have a lot of experience with surgery, Nancy does not, but she is handling the stress well. At this particular moment, as we wait for her name to be called, she is a bit annoyed because she can't drink Diet Coke, or smoke. She can't even drink any water. Her mouth is dry, and she's a little miserable. Despite that, she is in good spirits. Every so often I lean over and kiss her head. No matter how often we are told that this is routine surgery, we are still nervous. If anything were to happen to Nancy, I'd be lost forever.
Ten minutes have passed, and they have called Nancy into the "little room" where they make you wear a Johnny, lie down on a gurney, and freeze your ass off before knocking you out for the actual surgery. As she continues on her journey, I'm sitting in the waiting room and reading Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell. As I look around the room, I notice that I'm the only person without a cell phone. A 50-something Hispanic woman is closest to me and is talking very loudly on her little phone. "Aww, don't hit the dog, he's a good dog," I overhear her say, and then, "I love you" three times before she terminates the call.
About an hour later, I'm still thinking about the dog. Did her husband or lover or whatever really hit a dog, or is this just a familiar, playful conversation? Naturally, I do not know. Sometimes, my father and I will get angry with one of the cats (Ghost) and say, "That's it! Pack up your squeaky toys, Ghost, you're going to the farm!" Or even, "If you scratch your claws on that couch one more time, I'm going to fucking kill you!" These are jokes. But was this woman joking? I'll never know. I sigh, and return to my book.
Two hours later and I'm still reading. A couple of people are in the waiting room with me. There's a sign around here somewhere prohibiting food and drink, but I brazenly ignore it and open my Diet Coke. At some point I finished the Orwell book, and am now reading some kind of baby magazine. Woman in it are asking physicians, nurses, mid-wives, and swamis about baby. Why is my baby turning purple? Why does my 8 month old son have an erection? Is it ok to put a crying newborn in a HPC WS-299C soundproof wall safe while he suffers through colic and won't shut the hell up? Good questions, all. I'm fascinated.
4 hours and 58 minutes later, a nurse pops through the door and asks for "Mr. Darren Lyle." I jump up and say, "That's me. Is everything ok? Can I see her now?" The nurse replies, "Yes, she is doing very well. She sent me out here to get a Diet Coke from you." That's my Nancy. At that moment I had half a can left, and I gave it to the nurse. She turned and went backstage without another word. My fiancee was making her wishes clear, and the nurses were quick to grant them. Nancy wanted Diet Coke, dammit, and that's the end of it. Diet ginger ale? Ice water? No, no, no. In my mind she says to me, "I don't want that piss."
They soon buzz me in and I enter the large recovery room, festooned with curtains marking off each patients turf. In the 20 seconds it takes to find Nancy, I see two asses, both peeking out of poorly tied johnnies. As I look around, beyond a curtain, I hear the woman I love say, "When can I go, I need a cigarette." I smile.
When I find her, I kiss her. She doesn't want anything that she can't smoke at the moment, but she kisses me back and smiles, nonetheless. There is a deep sense of relief that she made it through this surgery. Routine or not, it's surgery. I was worried. A dull ache pounds from a place deep in my chest. I'm an emotional person, and I get a little chocked-up. Nancy looks great, despite just having had surgery. Her little foot is thickly bandaged.
We get our things together, and watch the pouring rain as we wait for our ride to take us home.