The doctor told us that it would be awhile before any tests were performed on my husband. She quietly, carefully explained that she would call me if there was news of his condition. For the moment Chad was hooked up to a drip for pain and another for fluids. Then this quiet, unassuming doctor made it clear we were dismissed.
Stepping outside, the three of us lingered along the broad circular drive. The night was warm, still hanging on to the day’s exceptional heat. I remember almost laughing when I told Carlos about the art of timing. He unwittingly had walked into a hellish ordeal that had actually barely begun. Making our way to the public parking area, my girl suggested I sleep at her house since it was so close to the hospital, maybe a five minute drive. We didn’t know what the night would bring and I needed to remain close.
Soon seated in Catherine’s living room, glass of wine in my hand, I suddenly felt like me. I somehow slipped back into my personality again when I wasn’t looking. There was no one needing my help, no one calling my name, no one griping about how awful they felt. For the moment I was free. So bowed down by responsibility and fear, the absence of demands jolted me back from that alien world of caretaker. I felt nearly giddy with my momentary freedom, not willing to contemplate what was happening in that hospital room a few miles away. Bidding goodnight to room mates, new boyfriend, and my daughter, I toddled off to bed, setting my cellphone on high.
Sleep, however remained elusive, with the adrenalin of fear, then of euphoria swirling around my mind and body. At 1:00 AM the cell phone shrilled loudly. I fumbled around the floor next to the bed, aware that my daughter was next to me. Flipping the phone open, I graveled out a hoarse hello. Catherine sat up.
“Mrs. Chumbley? I have received he results of the CT scan and it is clear that the colon has ruptured, feces is spreading through his body. Chad is in grave condition. He must have surgery. You will soon receive another call from a surgeon, Dr. ???, (I honestly can’t remember his name.) He will perform the procedure and will require your permission.
“Should I come back?”
“I don’t see anything you can do at this point. The surgeon will call for authorization and that you can do by phone.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you.” I hung up.
“Maybe we should go back down,” my daughter whispered in anguish. I thought that over.
“No. I think we will get more sleep here than in the waiting room at the hospital.”
We drifted back off to sleep.