Continued Conversations With Danielle:At The Hospital

Yesterday Danielle’s partner , Spencer had another surgery.  It was a surgery that needed to be pushed up because complications had started.  It had taken much work to get the date moved but as usual Danielle was persistent and tenacious.

Surgery was scheduled for 2:50PM but they had to arrive at the hospital at 8:30 for pre op.  By report, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.  They didn’t bring any pain medication and were told it wasn’t going to be given.  Not good because the pain was off the chart and most likely due to an infection.

I met them in the patient and family center.  Spencer was trying to sleep, looking ashen and I knew he was in pain.  Danielle had her game face on, ready for all things.  She was not too happy with the NP at preop because of no medications.  Her comment was, “why don’t they tell us to bring our own medications?  Spencer is having so much pain but he is being a trooper.”  It does make you shake your head in wonder at the idiocy of it with all the doctors, residents and interns roaming around.  And why couldn’t the NP be creative and at least speak to the surgeon? By not giving him medication, it meant up to six hours without anything. I asked if they wanted me to work on getting some medication and Spencer said he would try to get through it.

My role was to distract both of them from the the situation as best I could.  An advocate’s role is not just about getting the system to work.  It is about helping to provide a sense of balance at the most impossible and stressful times.

The area we were in was filled with people waiting to be called for surgery and families waiting to hear of surgery results.  Needless to say, the atmosphere was tense.  Doctors come and go in their scrubs and white coats to give news.  As Danielle pointed out, “There is free coffee and muffins!”

A nurse assigned to the area came and asked Spencer how he was doing and took him into her office to check vital signs.  He shuffled his way to the office and when he came back he told us she was going to try and get him some pain medication.  I thought Danielle was going to cry.  She wasn’t used to hospitals listening to and acknowledging Spencer’s pain.  The nurse got some medication.  Danielle said to her “I want to let you know how appreciative I am that you listened to Spencer and helped.  It doesn’t usually work that way.”  The nurse smiled and said                            ” I understand.”

When she had left, Danielle said to me,” She didn’t judge Spencer.  Most people dismiss pain complaints as drug seeking.  That has been the main problem. ”

After four hours of waiting, Spencer was called to go the surgical preop room.  We were escorted down by a volunteer.  This area was filled with many curtained areas of people waiting to go in for surgery.  As soon as Spencer was in his bed, a beehive of activity began.  First the nurses and then the surgeon.  He was chatty and making sure Spencer was ready.  We talked briefly about the Super Bowl because he was a Steelers fan.(Danielle said to me after, I hope he is not in a bad mood because they lost!) The  anesthesiologist came next to begin necessary surgical medications.

While we were waiting, the surgeon returned to remind the anesthesiologist of the need to call him as soon as he was ready.  The reason was the hospital was running a study which had the surgeons getting patients to the surgical suite 35 minutes after finishing the last patient.  The anesthesiologist said he would probably be done sooner.  The surgeon liked that.  The anesthesiologist turned to us and said it was time to say “See you Later” to Spencer.  He didn’t think saying goodbye was appropriate.  This is a difficult moment when there is no idea of possible outcome.  She cried and we left.  Her sister-in-law, Elizabeth had arrived and guided her out.

So eight hours after leaving their home, Spencer went into surgery.  The actual surgery didn’t start until an hour later.  The wait began.

I left knowing Danielle was being taken care of by Elizabeth.  They were texting and emailing family and friends about Spencer.  She’d been in this situation before and knew to keep herself busy.

Next blog is results and Danielle’s response.