Today, I drove with my son to the University Hospital. He was having a relatively minor procedure done, not surgical, precisely, but a procedure which nonetheless required anesthesia and someone to drive him home. I had planned to spend the day.
He checked in, then we went up to the Surgery Waiting Room. They showed us back to a room where he got into a hospital gown, then we waited for a nurse's assistant to take vitals, the anesthesiologist to give us the rundown. It was a room very much like the one the historian and I waited in last fall, for the very same reasons.
The procedure took place in an area I hadn't been to before, an area the anesthesiologist referred to as "the bowels" of the hospital. The route to it was convoluted, so much so that after we had spoken with the doctor, and I went to the adjacent waiting room, I was a bit nervous to leave. I sat in that waiting room along with a small family, who proceeded to have a quiet but intense meltdown right there. I was their witness. It reminded me of the families I saw during the historian's long stay, no doubt going through some of the worst days and nights of their lives, camping out in waiting rooms, trying not to lose it, hour after hour after hour.
After awhile, they left, and I sat there by myself, with my Ritz crackers and water bottle. The doctor came in maybe an hour after that. Everything had gone fine, was the gist. He explained this in some detail and then left. A little while later, I saw a hospital bed cruise by. My son was in it. His fluids were hanging on one bed pole, and he had an oxygen mask on his face. A woman in scrubs asked me if I wanted to follow. I stuffed my laptop back into my backpack and scrambled after them. My son kept talking groggily into his oxygen mask. I couldn't understand a word he was saying.
When finally they ushered me back to his recovery room, he was pretty well woken up. We compared notes with what the doctor had told him and what the doctor had told me. The longer we were there, the more lively he seemed, cracking jokes and clearly feeling relieved that it was over. We chatted with his girlfriend in Sweden. I updated the family via text and Facebook Messenger and email.
After some apple juice and graham crackers and some debriefing with the nurse, he got in a wheelchair and we went down stairs. Once we got outside, he told the orderly he thought he was okay to walk. "Up to you," the orderly said. So we walked to the parking structure, took the elevator down, and drove home while the sun in the west briefly flared, blinding us, then went down. I made him eggs and cheese in a tortilla, quesadilla style. The historian and I went out for Thai food. He's downstairs playing video games with his friends. All is well.