Phil is in surgery now, wheeled off at 9:30AM. At 9:45 a “code blue” was called over the intercom. Well, no one wants to hear that business. Still, I google, “code blue” because I’m completely sadistic. “Code Blue” is generally used to indicate a patient requiring resuscitation or otherwise in need of immediate medical attention, most often as the result of a respiratory arrest or cardiac arrest. Lovely. This can’t be Phil, I assure myself, because all of his nurses are wearing purple scrubs; they’re all cardiac nurses. And if he ever needed emergency care, he’d be in the right place already, with a built-in defibrillator already in his heart, they wouldn’t need to page a team. I could be wrong on all counts, but with the blank, I make up my own answers, which seem to keep my anxiety in the pen. I look around at the other people waiting in the room with me, strangers with headphones and sucking candies, bifocals and New York Magazine. One woman catches my gaze.
“Angiogram,” she says. “My husband has chest pains and shortness of breath. They might put in a stent today, we’ll see.” I nod and offer her a smile. “But that’s the least of it,” she says. “He has Tourette’s and bi-polar disorder and an auto-immune disorder. What I’ve been through, you could fill a book. I did, actually, five books, but the first three were fantasy novels–and my son, thank God, since he was six we had early intervention, his tics were so bad, he couldn’t walk. I gave up a thriving business, you know, to take him everywhere for help. Taking care of these two men has become my life. But he’s twenty-four now, and know what he does? He plays football. Of all the things, all my sacrifices, and here he’s playing football. He’s very masculine, you know, always with all the girls around him. You’d never know we went through all that we did.”
Actually, I though for the briefest of moments, “We would know. Because you’d tell us.” We all eat stress differently, some of us playing Chuzzle on an iPhone, refusing to take off our coats, others with arms crossed trying to doze. Some of us on a laptop blogging to pass the time and leave the head. For the rest of my silent moments in the waiting room I thought about our journeys, how we never know what’s next, how I might be better off hanging out at the Au Bon Pain cafe down the hall. If you only live once, you might want that life to include warm croissant.
UPDATE: Everything went smoothly. When they tested the new ICD, they shocked his heart, and he went back into atrial fibrillation (not good), but then they cardioverted him (that’s when they take out the paddles and say “clear!”), and the a-fib corrected. Let’s hope that it stays that way. Tonight he spends the evening here at the hospital for IV antibiotics and observation.