Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My Turn

I meant to visit Mom at 8 am before reporting to the hospital at 9:30 for my surgery.
I needed to spend some time with her and say both "Hi, I'm back from Chicago" and "Today I'm having my hysterectomy. I won't see you for about a week."
But I had a lot of last-minute errands to tend to before being out of commission for two weeks, so I didn't arrive at Ocean View Assisted Living until 9:20 am.
First I put a small thank-you note with a cash tip for Connie in the drawer of the black desk, as usual after I've been out of town.
Then I found Mom sitting in her wheelchair in the dining room after breakfast.
"Hi, Mom," I began. "I got back from my trip to Chicago. The wedding was very nice."
"Oh good," she said. "I'm so glad you're here. I've been so bored--"
"And today is my surgery," I continued in a rush. "I'm on my way to the hospital to have my hysterectomy. I can't stay long--I have to leave."
"Take me with you!" she cried, sensing the urgency in my voice.
"No, I can't take you with me," I said, laughing a little as the caregivers cleaning up breakfast looked on with amusement. "This time it's my turn."
"Bring me in your car! I need to go with you," she demanded, trying to adopt the old mother-taking-care-of-daughter tone.
"But I'm the one who takes you if you go anywhere," I explained. "And this time I can't drive you. I'll be the one in the hospital."
"Oh!" she paused, trying to understand.
"I have to leave now. I'll be back in a week or so. Connie will take good care of you, and Emily will visit."
"I'll visit you," she insisted.
"Here's a late Mother's Day present for you, that Roz sent," I countered, thrusting a beautifully wrapped gift into her hands. "You can open it."
And off I rushed, leaving her confused and agitated.
It was not the visit I had intended, but at least she would remember that I was back in town and in the hospital.
I arrived at St. Mark's Hospital fifteen minutes late for my appointment, but the admitting clerk didn't seem to care.
Within an hour I was lying on a gurney, whizzing through the hospital halls and observing the various landmarks on the ceiling.
I wasn't worried about the surgery--a vaginal removal of the uterus, ovaries, and Fallopian tubes, followed by insertion of a Monarch sling near the bladder to hold my ureter in a straighter position.
After all, Mom at 85 and 86 years had sailed through two surgeries just fine: the repair of a broken hip and the insertion of a pacemaker. I should do fine with this little tune-up.
If my choices are surgery or the threat of having to use Depends in thirty years, I'll take the surgery.

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