The Loneliness of the Wait

Waiting Room-J. Legg

By: The David

It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old. What matters is that the person you love…. who loves you, is in the surgical suite. You sit in the waiting room, and sometimes hours go by. You know the potential dangers of anesthesia, and indeed, the untoward events that can occur with any medical procedure. You’ve seen it. Hospitals, medicine and all these procedures are a part of your ken. You have seen it all, and although familiarity brings a level of comfort, it also brings a level of fear. The comfort comes from the degree of faith one can hold for the surgeon, and the successes you’ve seen. The worry comes from your knowledge of the fallibility of the human being, and from your knowledge that medicine is the product of a not very perfect science.

So, the gurney leaves the room with your partner, your lover, your husband and you follow behind it, meekly giving over his care to others. Acquiescing once again to this plan made after deliberations and consultations, and hoping that it will make his life better. So, you follow and you are shown to the surgical waiting room.

The room has several chairs, a table with an unfinished puzzle sitting at it’s center, apparently abandoned by someone who whiled away their wait moving the pieces around the table. There are about six or seven people also waiting. There is little communication between us. It sees that most of us are content to sit within our own space with our own ruminations.

There is a loneliness about this kind of wait that springs from one’s soul. A person might have a hundred friends with him or her, and yet there is still a place where the friends cannot reach. It is the place where the memories of the private times are stored. The private memories of younger days when attraction and love took root. It is a place where we store the thoughts of those younger days when we were immortal and all things were possible. There was no illness in those days, and the grim reaper was only present in horror films or comic books. Yet those Spring days of your life together provided the seeds that over the years took root and grew strong. The roots fed the tree even when troubles came. The roots provided the strength that allows love to endure through the disappointments that beset any relationship and the aging of the participants.

The strength of it all comes to mind during this wait that seems so interminable. And, as you sit there you realize that you are grateful for every minute of those years you have shared, the bad and the good ones. You are grateful for them because added together they make up the fabric that is your life together, and the complex design of that fabric cannot be torn or shredded. Like that fabric, you are stronger than when you lived a life on your own. The strength of two beats one.

You wait for the outcome of the surgery, and you remember.
An automatic door opens and out comes the surgeon dressed in his green scrubs and looking tired after four hours plus in the operating room. Words are spoken, “… a little longer than we expected…… went well….. doing fine….. in PACU. (What the hell is PACU? It is the Post Anesthesia Care Unit…… it used to be known as the Recover y Room.)

And now, a different, less intense wait is to occur until you can see him for yourself, and assess how well he is doing. You wait some more, drink more coffee and then move on to cola and you feel the caffeine jag, and taste the sourness that comes from those drinks taken without food.

Then, after another hour or so, a nurse comes to tell you that he has been transferred and is in the Intensive Care Unit for overnight observation before being sent to a room on a “step-down unit.”

Although you know that recovery is its own ordeal, and you know there is work to be done that only he can do for himself, you are able to breathe again. You know his strength, you know he can do it and you know you’ll be there to help.