“You can give him a kiss goodbye,” the anaesthetist said. I’d been sitting there for some time in the waiting area as my husband lay in his hospital bed waiting to go in for surgery. All we could do was stare at each other, unable to speak. The environment was so foreign to me. We had spent so much time in hospital environments but this area was far removed. The attention to sterilization and lack of any medical items was disturbing, with just painted lines and numbers on the floor indicating where each bed should be. No curtains, no machines just one large open room with seamless disinfected surfaces that blended from floor to wall to ceiling. We were also alone in there, I thought it must have been a quiet day. I had been advised to wear scrubs over my clothes, simple with minimal places for contaminants to hide. The severity of the environment added to my concern of the impending craniotomy.
With tears in his eyes, I gently kissed him on the lips and walked away not turning back, removing my clothing as I left the room. I knew at that point life as we once lived together was over. With doors swinging softly behind me tears began to seep down my cheeks as I wandered through the corridors searching for somewhere to hide. The public areas of the hospital were immense and heaving with life. I scanned the area and quickly found the ladies bathrooms, I closed the cubicle door and began hysterically sobbing, the feeling of dread escaping and surprising me with its disturbing sound. I could hear someone banging on more door asking if I was ok, did I need help. I ignored her but she wouldn’t stop. Again it was a stranger who comforted me. Opening the door I could see the concern on her face and I felt guilty for troubling someone who most likely had her own worries. She hugged me firmly and asked if there was anyone I could call to come and wait with me.
I am numb and heavy. The baby is kicking and wakes me up out of my distressed state as I quickly find the closest exit in desperate need of fresh air. I start walking aimlessly around the rear of the hospital in a daze, just walking narrowly missing cars trying to park and unable to find a path to stay on. So I just stop and close my eyes breathing deeply. I call my brother. He suggests going to the carpark and sitting in my car, he is on his way.
Reclining in my seat I wait for him. It was a good idea. My car is far removed from the hospital environment and calms me momentarily until my brother arrives when the tears start to flow freely again as I mumble my way through swearing at unfair life is and attempting to process my feelings, trying to express something that neither of us understands. The likelihood of my husband returning from surgery having suffered a stroke, seizure and loss of mental functions is very high. The four hours we waited together in the car almost unbearable. I am grateful for my brother. It dawns on me the man I married three days ago will not be the same man that I would see on the other side of the surgery.