Yesterday went very well for my mother (YAY!), but it was a comedy of errors for me.
Here’s the plan. Not that anything ever goes according to plan. My mother was to have her surgery at a hospital about 25 miles northwest of her hometown, which put it (sort of) on the way for me. So she found a friend to drive her, and I was to meet her there at 1:30 yesterday afternoon. While I was preparing to leave, she called to say that the hospital had had a cancellation and wanted her to come in a couple hours early. No problem, she said; her friend could stay with her until I arrived. So I finished packing and hit the road, figuring the surgery would be done by the time I arrived.
All went well until I exited the interstate.
I was to follow Highway 92 until I reached a crossroad that would get me to Highway 54, drive a couple more miles, and I’d be at the hospital. Sounds simple, right? Except that Highway 92 was suddenly no longer Highway 92 but instead State Road 138. I pulled over and looked at my MapQuest directions. Ah, there’s the problem. Highway 92 had taken a right turn a few miles back, and after wasting only 20 minutes or so backtracking, I was again on the correct road. I congratulated myself and started looking for the cross street that would take me to my destination. Only one small problem — Highway 92 disappeared again. With no warning (and no direction from MapQuest), I found myself on Highway 29. Was it opposite day?
The next thing I saw was a sign that said “Welcome to Palmetto”. Yes, I grew up in Georgia. No, I haven’t lived here for over twenty years, and I don’t remember the names of every tiny town in the state. I saw a street sign that read Fayetteville Road and thought, “This is it!” After all, Fayetteville, or at least its outskirts, was my destination. Fayetteville Road was exceedingly rural. It finally led me to the booming metropolis of Tyrone, where I spotted the Senoia Road. Another familiar name. I headed for Senoia. Ended up in Peachtree City, where, after some more frustrating twists and turns, I accosted a nice lady in the Kroger parking lot who was loading her groceries into her golf cart. She gave me what turned out to be simple and easy directions to get to Highway 54 and the hospital.
However…when I got to the road she had told me would be Highway 54, it had a name instead of a number. Some famous dude, I guess, but no one I recognized. By this point, I wasn’t about to trust that I was in the right place, so I pulled over to ask a road crew. “Where’s Highway 54?” I asked. “You’re on it,” replied the road crew worker, looking at me like I might be off my meds and a just a little scary. “Okay, where’s the hospital?” “Just keep going the same direction.” “Okay, thank you!” Good thing there’s only one hospital in the area. I arrived only an hour and a half later than planned, to discover that my mother was still waiting to go into surgery.
And that’s another story.
The doctor finally came in around 3:30, and my mother was whisked away to the OR soon thereafter. About the same time she would have gone in if she hadn’t come early. I was given a beeper and told to stay close, as the surgery would only take an hour or so, depending on whether the bones needed pinning or a metal plate with screws (OUCH!). I ran down to grab a healthy Chick-Fil-A sandwich from the kiosk in the basement and then settled in the waiting room to watch the Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Why, yes, I am behind in my TV viewing. Why do you ask?
After a short while, the geriatric volunteer came around and confiscated our beepers, saying he was leaving for the day. He was wearing an aqua vest. All the volunteers were wearing aqua. You know, I remember pink ladies and candy stripers. Maybe they decided pink was too feminine for the male volunteers. Or something. Anyway, he told us that the surgical staff would call the front desk from that point on, and as long as some “volunteer” in the waiting room answered it, we would be able to get information about our loved ones.
So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, close to 7 PM, I heard someone call my name and headed for the phone. Of course, the woman who had been pressed into service (and she didn’t even get to wear the aqua vest!) had already hung up the phone and told me she didn’t know which extension I needed to call. I went through the Authorized Personnel Only door and started asking questions. No one knew why I was called. They finally located the doctor by phone, and he began our conversation by telling me that he had “beeped me twice” and didn’t understand why he couldn’t locate me before. I know; it’s so hard to find people who are SITTING IN THE WAITING ROOM. Good report — surgery went well — Mama could go home. That one was a bit of a surprise, as he had told her he planned to keep her overnight, and we were expecting the 23-hour stay.
A couple minutes later, Mama arrived back where she’d started –yeah, the same place where no one had recognized her name or had any idea why I’d expect to find her there just minutes before. I told the nurses that I had not been given any information. One insisted that someone had called the front desk. I insisted back that no one had called my name, although I’d heard other patients called throughout the three hours I was sitting there. I even saw actual human beings come out looking for patients’ families. I told them that the doctor had tried to beep me, but the beepers had been taken away. Nurse #1: “Oh yeah, they take up the beepers at 4:00.” Me: “I thought you should be aware of this.” Nurse #2: “I beeped you a long time ago.” Looks at chart. “Yeah, I beeped you at 4:20.” I refrained from pinching her, just barely, and replied, “Yes, and they take up the beepers at 4:00!!!” Nurse #2: “Oh yeah.”
We finally escaped around 8 PM, and Mama was, fortunately, lucid enough to give me directions so I didn’t get lost on the way home. She’s in some pain this morning but is feeling pretty well otherwise. She got away with pins and didn’t have to get a metal plate. She gets a cast next week and should be back on the golf course in a couple of months. That makes all the hassle worth it.