O.R. Waiting Room

The room was not fully enclosed, one wall was all glass, facing the open courtyard and one wall was just that, a wall.  The other two boundaries were the hall way corridor of the hospital, with technicians, nurses, doctors, administrators and various other folks walking past; all looking in at the family members sitting in the Operating Room Family Waiting Area. 


The OR Waiting Room was comfortable, about 15 over sized chairs in little groupings, and at 10 am on Friday morning there was standing room only.  My wife and I had arrived at the facility 90 minutes earlier, and with a process that could only be described as maximum efficiency with a friendly flair, my wife was admitted, educated, prepped and wheeled off to the operating room.


My understanding was that the procedure should be complete within two hours, so I settle in to the waiting room for a little reading and people watching.  For the next two hours I watch as friends and family show up and visit with other family members who are waiting.  It's always the same, "no, haven't heard anything yet, they're still in there, the surgeon hasn't been out yet".


There is a volunteer for the hospital in the corner at a desk who is doing his best to keep tabs on everyone in the room.  He makes the rounds, gathers names and then heads off into the recovery room to look at the "Big Board" to see where everyone is.  After a few minutes he comes back and goes around the room giving the briefest of reports to family members, letting them know whether their loved one is still in surgery or is now in the recovery room. 


It is interesting how different individuals react under stressful situations.  In the waiting room there is a gentleman who is incredibly anxious about his wife's procedure and is questioning just about everyone in the waiting room.  This well trained volunteer strategically intercepts this individual and directs the conversation back to the corner of the room where he is able to let the gentleman talk quietly with him…until he has said all he needs to say.  Skillfully done by the volunteer.


Bye now the noon hour has come and gone and one by one surgeons have been coming out of the O.R. and quietly calling out the last name of the patient they were operating on.  We talk about privacy in the hospital; however, when it comes to the O.R. Waiting Room, privacy is in short supply.  Time after time I see the surgeon approach the family, who are sitting in a grouping in the waiting room, and then begin to explain the outcome of the surgery that has just been completed on their respective family member. 


As a member of the O.R. Waiting Room, I pretend not to listen to their discussion; however, you can't help but hear the entire process because, well, they are right next to you.  Fortunately, the day I was in the O.R. Waiting Room, each and every time the surgeon came out, a positive outcome was described and gratitude was shared.   After the surgeon leaves the family gathers up their items and makes the journey onto the next stop in their hospital experience.


So here it is, nearly 3pm, and the only folks left in the waiting room are myself and the volunteer.  Over the last hour I have been dozing in and out of semi-chair-sleep and my mind has been wondering.   The understanding was that surgery was going to take two hours, and here it is, almost five hours later.  One can't help their mind from thinking something adverse has happened.  The well intentioned volunteer must have felt my dream emotions because just as I was sitting up he walked back into the room and said he had just been in checking to see where my wife was in her surgery process.


She had just been brought back into the recovery room and I would be able to see her soon.  Not more than 15 minutes after that, the surgeon walked into the nearly empty waiting room and explained that the surgery went just as planned without any complications. 


As mere mortals, we place a sense of helpless trust in surgeons as they open up our loved ones and then proceed to install devices or patch up wounds.  As we wait, we can only breathe as we wait for the surgeon to walk through the door into the O.R. Waiting Room and let us know all went as planned.   


Thanks
Steve


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