November 15, 2007

Journal while Ben was in Surgery

Ben is in surgery right now. We got here at 6 am after a fitful night of nervous, earnest cuddling and cold sweats. He went back immediately and we saw him before he went into the OR at 7:30. He was crying silently, his lips were quivering. I just wanted to comfort him, but the lines, the hospital bed…it’s all so sterile and offputting. I overcame what I could and stroked his cheek, told him he was being brave and held his hand. I wondered if he was crying because his Dad wasn’t there. I didn’t want to make things worse, so I didn’t bring it up. Marty said a simple “it’s no fun, is it,” which was somehow exactly what needed to be said, and so hard to come up with. The nurse went about his duties giving me Ben’s clothes, letting me exchange Ben’s prana hat for a lunchlady bouffant cap, and giving us all the heads up that we were headed in, but that 6 people would be in there with Dr. Sekela making sure everything went well. Phillip stood at the back and just gave his silent encouragement. We walked down the hall, and were followed by Ben in the hospital bed. Ben’s Mom was really upset, and Ben was obviously scared. It was so hard to see him like that, so absolutely vulnerable and knowledgeable about the trauma and risk he was about to undertake. He gave me one last kiss and a soulful “I love you” and they wheeled him away. I managed to stay sunny for him, and only cried when we got to the surgery waiting room and Phillip hugged me. We both shed some tears, rather overwhelmed with how scared Ben was, and wishing the situation Just Wasn’t.
I shared the cat alarm clock cartoon to lighten the mood, which everyone in the waiting room appreciated enormously. People shared their personal cat stories as I excused myself to the corner to begin studying dermatology. The surgery began at 8:30. At 9 we got a call that everything was going alright. In my head that meant that they had successfully gotten into the thoracic cavity. I wonder what the timeline actually was. My dad arrived so Phillip and I enjoyed a needed breakfast downstairs in the cafeteria with him, discussing Ben’s demeanor and physical mien as of late. We had a long, conversational breakfast which was really nice, but I started to get worrisome. So we went back up to the waiting room just in time to hear that (10:30 am) things were going well and that they were about to put him on the heart/lung machine.
I started studying again, talked to Chelsea briefly…very tired. Kind of distracted from studying. Anxious. Kind of wondering exactly what is going on, what the surgery table looks like with Ben on it, how he’s doing, and how similar or different it will be to see him afterward compared to last time. I occasionally recall how many people are sending warm and healing thoughts today, and feel like a reiki conduit. I am a calm bundle of nerves if that makes sense. One breath at a time.

Updated that everything is okay at 12:45.
Updated that everything is okay at 1:20.
1:26 a nurse came out to say that he was off the bypass! Only 5 hours on it! I was so happy to hear that everything had gone well and so quickly. The nurse was clearly impressed with the awesomeness of Dr. Sekela.
We were ushered into a consultation room at 3 (phillip, me, dad, Sarah, jim, sue) and waited for Dr. Sekela who eventually made it in and told us everything went as expected, there were no surprises and he showed us pictures that he’d taken of Ben’s aortic graft. I was so excited I could have kissed him. Dr. Sekela was clearly impressed with Ben’s acuity…kind of excited by it himself. He took pictures just because he thought Ben would like to see them and would have lots of questions. Awww. Now it’s 5:30 and we STILL haven’t been in to see him…and I’m starting to get anxious, but I have been so happy for a couple hours that he made it through. I emailed my class and some other people to let them know.

[picture of him in ICU just a few hours after the surgery]


Tiffanie said...

you are all brave.
i can't imagine what that must feel like ~ for all of you.
i applaud your presence ~ writing it down and being honest.
and also brave to share.

Tiffanie said...

i also can't stand to see him in the bed like that, so i reeeeeally can't imagine how you must have felt!!!
love and healing to Ben!!!!

Katie said...

Thanks so much for the post Alyssum! It's great to know that Ben's surgery went smoothly. Travis and I think of him often. Best wishes to both you and him.

Mick said...

god bless y'all... love and healing, for sure..