She's got almost 20 years on me, and her joints are just as old. I've been watching her locomote with pain since we met. After today, a lot of that should change.
She's been through physical therapy and massage therapy and cortisone shots. She bought a zero gravity recliner in which she found relief, sometimes. Sleeping through the night was not an option; the pain woke her, reminded her that she was here, left her suffering.
It was time for surgery.
She's had more serious procedures in the past. She's traveled to the best doctor for this, that, and the other thing. But this knee replacement is happening across town, at the brand new Tucson Orthopedic Institute at Tucson Medical Center, with a doctor she's known for decades. She loves him. He explains everything clearly. He is optimistic. He is realistic. He's hers and she's confident and so, when I arrived just before they wheeled her into the surgical suite, she was smiling.
I came early so that I could retrieve her iPod Shuffle. She uploaded four meditation tapes, she wanted to listen to the one which would prepare her for anesthesia, the nurses hooked her up, and I had nothing to do but rub her hand and instruct the nurse that she was now part of the loving eyes on my friend 24/7 contingent.
The nurse accepted the responsibility with grace. My friend smiled and took another deep breath behind the oxygen mask. I retreated to the lovely waiting area. It's a series of alcoves, some with televisions, some with padded chairs, some with tables and comfy desk chairs. I found the coolest spot, away from the windows, and settled in.
When G'ma was alive, I kept a purse loaded for unexpected trips to the hospital. Last night, I tried to recall its contents. Tissues, pen, book, crocheting, laptop and mouse, phone, chargers for everything, water bottle, hearing aid batteries, hand lotion, wallet..... I brought everything except a pad on which to write notes.
Luckily, the volunteer at the reception desk handed me a slip of paper with my friend's patient number written at the top; it had enough room at the bottom for the notes I took when the doctor came out for the update.
I retreated to my table and comfy chair and sent an email to her children. Their mom was fine, in the recovery room, doctor happy, I'll keep them posted
And now I wait. No visitors in the Recovery Room, so I have time to write to you. She'll be moved to a lovely private room later in the afternoon, and I'll sit there with her for the rest of the day. Loving eyes on her, 24/7, is the prescription, just as it was when I was the patient. Another friend, an African refugee she's befriended, will spend the night on a cot in her room, there just in case she is needed.
Though I've been told today is the extent of my duties, I can't imagine that I'll be able to stay away as long as she's here. An advocate is always appropriate, and, as her person, that's my job.
It's nice to know that she trusts me. It's nice to be able to reassure her far-flung family. It's nice to be her person.