“But take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
I was saying Jesus' words to myself as the door opened. I looked up to see a dark haired nurse, clipboard in hand. Somehow I knew she was going to call my name.
Oh, boy. Here it comes.
My heart pounded as I stuffed my mp3 player back in my purse. As I tried to stand, my earbud cords kept spilling out. Keep calm, Ariel, I told myself. It's fine. Take your time.
Finally I got the annoying cords in and zipped up my purse. I smiled at the nurse as she ushered me, Mom, and Dad inside. She told me her name; I was too nervous to remember it.
“Alright. What's your name and date of birth?” she asked before we got far. I told her, and we moved down the short hall. “And what's Dr. Bents doing for you today?”
“He's doing surgery on my left knee,” I replied, looking around the hospital-ish interior. It looked pretty calm and clean.
“Can you be more specific?”
I smiled. “Yeah. He's making a new tendon for my kneecap – out of my hamstring.”
“Very good.” She pointed to a little half-room that could be curtained off. “So this is where you'll be.”
Although there was shelving holding machinery on the back wall, mostly what I noticed was the clean, perfectly white hospital bed. It just looked … relaxing.
The nurse had me change into a hospital gown and put my things my clothes, purse, and contact case into a bin that was stored beneath my bed.
“So will I be on this bed the whole time?” I asked the nurse once I was situated, Mom and Dad in chairs beside me.
“Mm-hm. They'll just wheel it into the operation room.”
The first thing she did was to take my temperature and ask again which leg it was, which resulted in her marking my left leg with a little circley design. “Just initial that,” she said, giving me the pen. Now that gave me some serious peace of mind, knowing they would operate on the right – I mean, correct – leg.
It was about then that I noticed that my bed wasn't long enough. It reached about to my ankles. And I'm only, what… five eight? They must not get to many tall people in there.
Next she asked about allergies and once again what my name was. These questions resulted in two bands which she strapped around my wrist. One had several capital letters –meaningless to me – and one with my name, age, address, etc.. I kinda felt like a newborn baby.
In the next fifteen, twenty minutes, things just kept being attached to me. I kept count. First it was the legendary arm-squeezer-to-find-blood-pressure-thing which squeezed my left arm to death every five minutes, and then a little thing that clamped to my finger, taking my pulse. Then came three round stickers around my heart. These she promptly hooked cords to which must've led to some machine. I was actually glad to have them, knowing they would be monitoring my heart while I was unconscious. But then … she laid a clear tube on my shoulder. And I knew what was coming next.
Okay, so I wasn't that nervous. It just kind of creeped me out that it would be in my skin for so long. The nurse tied a blue rubbery thing tight around my arm.
I looked to my mom. “Hm?”
“What do you want for supper tonight?”
I smiled, knowing she was trying to get my mind off my right wrist. “Well, hmm … ”
“Go ahead and pump your hand,” the nurse ordered. I did, trying to force my mind to supper. It wasn't too hard, considering I was very hungry.
“Do you want pizza? Or pasta?” Mom tried.
“Okay, stop,” the nurse said.
I stopped. “No, how about … soup!”
“Come on, vein,” the nurse muttered to my skinny wrist.
“What kind of soup?”
I had to think about this. The nurse warned, “I'm gonna whack it a little to get it to stick up.”
And whack it she did.
After a little grimacing on my part, I guess she got it to pop up, because she said, “Okay, a little prick here … ”
Mom came to the rescue. “Didn't we just buy ravioli?”
“Yeah.” There came the prick, hardly hurting at all. “For ravioli soup.”
“Oh yeah … ”
I felt something happening to my wrist but didn't want to look.
“What kind of sauce was in that?” continued Mom. “I can't remember.”
“Another little prick...”
Again, almost nothing, now that my mind was involved in ravioli soup sauce. “It was just like pasta sauce,” I said.
“Like tomato sauce,” offered Dad.
Mom nodded. “Oh, okay.”
“Yeah, with … ” I looked to the ceiling, searching for the word. “Umm, what's the word! With … it's like … arg. Cow?” I tried desperately.
“Hamburger!” I cried.
The nurse laughed. “Cow? Oh wow. You guys did great distracting her.”
Yep. I looked down at the IV, which the nurse was now putting piece after piece after piece of tape onto. I kind of smiled, feeling a little ashamed at being worried over such a little thing.
Time passed. The nurse left after getting my IV done. All three of us were nervous, no one really starting a conversation. Sometimes I would catch Mom or Dad looking at me a certain way – sort of sad and pitying. I guess I must have looked pitiful.
“It must be weird seeing me like this,” I said finally. “All wired up. You know how you always look at people in the hospital like this, but it's weird that I'm the one in the bed with the IV.”
I had brought my kindle to read, my mp3 player, and whatever else there was in my purse. But I didn't feel like using any of it. I just wanted to lie there. Although my heart rate was a bit fast, I could sense God there, calming me down.
We talked a little about my book. Dad had a great idea, so I asked mom to write it down for me – my right first-finger was still in that annoying clamper thing. It felt kind of numb.
“What time is it?” I asked Dad. The surgery was supposed to start at 10:45, so we had gotten let in by the nurse at about 10.
“Seriously?” I couldn't believe it. “It's already been that long?”
“I'm glad time's going quickly for you!” Mom inserted.
I shook my head in amazement. “Wow. I wonder why they're so late.”
Then someone got a brilliant suggestion – I think it was Mom.
“Do you want to call Tianna?”
I smiled. “Yeah!”
We talked for about a half-an-hour. I told her about all the things attached to me, and she read off a couple of email and texts people had sent for me. In the middle of the call, Dad stood up. I paused Tianna.
“I have to go, honey,” he said.
I sighed, but knew he had stayed extra long. Too bad the surgery was so late. He leaned over and I hugged him. “Bye, Daddy. I love you.”
“Love you.” He stood and smiled. “God bless you.”
“Thanks.” I watched him leave, then picked up my conversation with Tianna. For probably the twentieth time, I blurted, “I'm so hungry!”
Tianna voice said, “Me too.” A pause. “I'm fasting and praying for you.”
My heart melted. Okay, that's melodramatic, but really, it felt like it. “Oh, Tianna!”
“Well – ” she laughed a little, “I felt bad eating since you couldn't.”
I love my sister. A lot.
“Thank you so much! That means a lot to me.”
That really topped off the overflowing cup-of-love-and-prayers-from-people.
Finally we said goodbye; the doctor was coming to talk to us.
“Hey, Ariel,” he said, holding out his right hand.
I awkwardly gave him my IV and finger-clamped hand, which he shook as if they weren't in the way. I smiled.
“How‘re you doing?” he asked. I noted his surgeon cap.
I don't remember all he said. I think he checked my knee to see the mark and probably checked out my temperature and heart rate. As he left, I felt so thankful that he was doing the surgery himself. I'd been to two check-ups with him and felt completely comfortable with him doing it. Yet another of God's blessings.
Next I had to use the restroom – after all, they'd been pouring sugar-water into me for an hour and a half! When I got back to my room, the anesthesiologist was already there, talking to Mom.
“Hi!” he said when he saw me. “I'm Dr. Bob.”
“Hi,” I answered. He looked kind.
He got to work explaining to us what he was going to do. “I'll give you a sedator first, to kinda make you not care as much, and then I'll do some drawing on you.” He looked at Mom. “So she'll have some purple lines on her skin, but they'll come off when she takes a shower.
Then,” he continued, “I'll put some numbing gel on you and poke around with a needle to find the right nerves to block.” This didn't sound good, but then I knew this part would be the most painful. “So I'm gonna make your tendons twitch, okay, until I find the right place to numb.”
I raised my eyebrows and giggled a little. It sounded weird.
“Am I gonna be wheeled into the surgery room right after I get the blocks?” I asked when he was finished explaining everything.
Good. I took a deep breath. Then, before I knew it, it was time.
The nurse set a little oxygen tube around my face, with tiny things for my nostrils. The air was cold.
I had waited till the end to take my contacts out, so I could be aware of what was going on around me as long as possible. Now, while Dr. Bob got his stuff set up, I finally took them out. I looked around for a moment, getting used to the enormous blur everything was now.
Mom came up beside my head. “Good luck, honey,” she whispered. “Remember to say your Bible verses. I'll be praying.” I gave her a smile and she left. My heart kinda jumped; it was really starting now.
They completely curtained me off, then gave me the sedator. I felt its effect almost immediately. My sight became dizzy, and I felt a little out of it. Weird.
“Turn on your right side there,” the nurse told me. It felt weird to move being so dizzy. But here's where the sedator came in handy. I could kind of feel him drawing on my skin, and it would have tickled.
“Okay. A little pressure,” the doctor warned. I tried not to get more nervous.
Whoah! That was pressure, but it felt so strange I hardly noticed. What on earth was he doing? And then –
I gave a little gasp. I could feel something … moving in the back of my leg. I realized instantly what it was: my own tendon.
The creepy jumping continued until he must've found the right place. There was a little more pressure, and then nothing. I was pretty woozy when they asked me to roll back to my back.
Now I could see the two people bending over me. Well, blobs of color that were supposedly them. Then the pressure came again on the front of my leg. But this time when the tendon jumped on the inside of my leg, I couldn't help it. I squirmed.
It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had. I was infinitely glad my contacts were out so I couldn't see the tendon twitching – feeling it was enough.
It kept jumping. I kept squirming. Lord, please make it stop! There was nothing more that I wanted in that moment than it just to be over with.
“That's not the place I want,” came Dr. Bob's voice. “I want the kneecap.”
Then move it! Please!
He did. Soon I could feel my kneecap twitching. But that wasn't nearly as bad.
“That's the place,” he said and numbed right there,. I breathed a big breath. Thank you, God. Thank you that's over.
I was in an odd state. Very tired, slightly nervous, dizzy, and very ready to be wheeled into that surgery room. I felt a little tinge of happiness, too. It was time. It was really time!
“Feels weird,” I mumbled to the nurse. “I can sort of feel them getting numb.” In a moment I was ready to be moved. They pulled my bed out of the little curtained space and began wheeling me backwards into the operation room.
As I came to a stop, someone lifted a mask-type thing over my face. “Think about some place nice and warm,” a voice was saying. “Think about California.”
I blinked twice at the ceiling. Nothing was happening…
I was shivering. People were putting blankets over me. I opened my eyes.
How funny. I'm dreaming I'm at the hospital.
Then somehow things came clear. Oh, that's right, I'm here because of my knee. Oh yeah, I just had knee surgery –
I could have cried. It was over. It was done. My knee was fixed. The surgery was over!
I was still shivering, but I wasn't cold. Especially with three blankets over me. But my body was trembling all over.
I still had all six things attached to me. I felt kinda woozy. A nurse approached me.
“How are you feeling?”
“Uh, pretty good.”
“Are you ready to have your parents come in?”
I wasn’t quite … myself, yet. “Not quite yet,” I told her.
“Okay. Can I get you anything to drink? We have water, juice – ”
“Water would be good.”
She nodded and came back soon with an icy cup of water. As I drank it, I adjusted to where I was and said a very thankful prayer to God. My leg felt weird – it was completely numb.
After a couple mintues, I was ready for Mom and Dad. Soon I saw them coming as colorful blurs.
“Hi, Ariel!” Dad said. He sounded like he was smiling.
I smiled weakly. “Hi.”
“How are you doing, honey?” Mom asked. She sounded concerned.
My teeth clacked together. “I'm shivering. But I'm not cold.”
Mom gently rubbed my arm. “Oh yeah. I had that reaction to anesthesia, too. I forgot about it.”
“It's weird.” Really weird.
“It'll go away soon.”
“Oh, let me take your picture.” Dad pulled out his iphone. “Smile!”