As I was paying the cashier in the supermarket for the ingredients of what was to be a spectacular desert to follow the poached wild salmon, Jim called. Could I get in the car and drive out to Western Massachusetts?  Sita had gone in for what should have been a routine procedure, part of the aftermath of the difficult labor three months ago. The emergency C-section back then had not been neatly completed.  There were adhesions and things needed to be corrected. Why this had to wait to five days before our departure for Italy is a mystery.

But things had gone bad – a puncture, nick or perforation led to profuse internal bleeding and she fainted just as she was discharged. When she came to she was in agonizing pain and wheeled back into surgery. That’s when I got the call. Jim was with baby, unprepared for a long stay into the night.  The only thing that worked out well was that the baby is used to being bottle fed. If he hadn’t, it would have been a very abrupt weaning.

I canceled the desert, Axel packed me a commuter dinner and I headed out to Western Mass, just barely after the heavy commuting traffic had eased up.  I made the 125 mile trip in just over 2 hours (don’t ask) and found a restless baby and a distraught Jim.

The hospital closes exactly at 8 PM. Except for the emergency entrance and the wards, there was not a soul to be seen, a ghost hospital. Doors closed after you went through and locked, requiring a search for someone with an electronic key to get you back in. Jim’s cell phone battery had died and the charger was of course at home.  To make things worse there is no phone signal in the hospital. We had already experienced that in another wing, three months earlier, but the day surgery family waiting area was also without signal. So you have to go outside, but then the doors lock behind you. Ughhh. I was able to bring relief (cellphone and baby wise) so that Jim could go outside and let a long list of anxious people know what was going on, and, after the phone call, get back in.

Faro and I were the only two in the large day surgery family waiting area. A large flat screen monitor was mounted on the wall. It indicated, with color codes, the various stations one has to go through in day surgery. I can’t remember them all but there are about 9 stations. The screen was empty except for one line: patient initials S,M. Under the station column her row was colored blue, meaning she was in PACU. A discarded brochure explained to me that that meant she was out of surgery and in the recovery room.

In the meantime the baby started crying, wanting more milk, but nothing was prepared and there was only one, used but empty bottle. I also had to go to the bathroom. It reminded me of the trials and tribulations as a new mother, lacking hands, juggling, packing the baby up for a trip to the bathroom, with the added difficulty of doors shutting behind me, not to open again.

Eventually we were notified that the patient was in her room – on the joint replacement ward for lack of beds elsewhere. She was groggy and in great pain and utterly depressed about the bad turn of events. Seeing us all back in the same hospital where she struggled through and after delivery was an unpleasant deja-vu. The only difference was that Faro was gurgling and smiling at his mom who couldn’t hold him but gurgled right back.

And now I am waiting for the house to wake up, anxious to get back to the hospital. Only three days after I was here last, the cats are starting to accept me, no longer an interloper.

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August 2012
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