You sign the forms because you have to. If you don’t, the surgery doesn’t happen and your weakness and pain never go away. You gulp and sign your name saying, “sure, I’m aware that the things you plan to do to me are inherently risky and could all go terribly wrong”.
Then they inform you, quite specifically, of all those things that could go wrong- infection, brain damage, death – and that you’re not to sue them if they do. Of course you’d be brain-damaged or dead, so it would be your heirs doing the suing (hey that rhymed, I’m keeping it in!). Nevertheless, it is you that must sign.
So you do what they say and wait. There have been no fluids or solids since before midnight, there is no jewelry on your person, and you’ve shown up on time – 6:30 am on a Tuesday morning. You’ve resigned yourself to the risk and you’re plunging ahead, even though your spouse can’t stand the stress of waiting with you and dropped you off in the parking lot and sped away. You wait alone.
Intellectually you know that this is no big deal, they perform thousands of these procedures and they’re good at it. But you take comfort in your indulgences from the day before, because, hey, who knows, you may not be walking out of here alive.
It’s nerve-racking. You find yourself struggling to stay calm, to not start freaking, and to put on a brave face. I don’t know how you do this, but my bravado takes the form of a night club act. I start doing stand up for anyone that will listen. Collecting laughs is the only comforting thing I know to do in situations like this.
But this morning’s wait is tough. There is no one to entertain. Two other patients are quickly moved backstage to the pre-op room. There is no receptionist or nurse/type person around. Just me, some grossly outdated magazines, and my nervous comedian energy.
After sitting on edge for 25 minutes, a woman finally appears at the reception desk. She’s sweet and a willing audience member on which to perform my act. I get her laughing, then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot my punchline.
Take a close look at this plant. Look closer. You recognize this, right? Six feet tall, plastic, and right next to the reception desk. In a surgery waiting room? Are you freaking kidding me? Suddenly, and without reason, I know everything is going to work out and I’m going to be fine. Time to mug and take selfies in my surgery hat.
Soon, my prince arrives and sweeps me away on a cloud of Propofol, to that place where there is no more worry …