The following is the third installment of Brian's guest posting on TBCTRFSCIW. Tara read the first two and has not fired him yet.
“Thank you for what you do.”
Basking in the utter bliss of the good news we received from Dr. Nakhlis a few days ago, I totally forgot that Anne kept repeating that line over and over to the surgeon in the midst of her own excitement. She was not just saying “Thank you for helping my daughter,” but rather “Thank you for choosing the profession you did. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of cancer patients. Thank you for dedicating your life to fighting this dreaded disease.” I want to extend that thank you to everyone at the Faulkner Hospital who helped us get through Round 1.
Tara’s recovery has been even better than expected so far. What started off as a three-foot walk to the wall about eight hours after her surgery quickly escalated to a victory lap up and down the seventh floor hallway of the Faulkner only hours later. I held her hand while she walked, and I watched Tara get stronger as the staff smiled and provided words of encouragement. Tara is the veteran of two C-sections, so this was her third major surgery. As an observer to all three recoveries, I am still amazed by the quantity and quality of the health care providers that have helped her along the way. And yesterday was no different.
[Although, I do have one recommendation for all hospitals, not just Faulkner. When doctors lead in a team of eager interns and medical students for observations of patients, knock on the door first and send one person in to evaluate the situation and provide a “heads up.” We were both awoken early in the morning yesterday to an army of six people with clipboards and lab coats, standing over us. It was quite disconcerting. In my confused and sleepy state, I thought I awoke reincarnated as a lab rat. Then, I got my bearings, realized I was drooling, and was embarrassed.]
After my last blog post, I braced myself for what I thought was going to be a long night at the hospital. I was wrong. Digi, our nurse, provided both comfort and care for us the entire night. She helped with the pain and (what was even worse) the uncontrollable itching Tara was dealing with. Digi was tough though. She wouldn’t let us scratch. When we were alone, Tara would ask me to scratch her back, and I would respond, “But Digi said not to!” Then, I would quickly fulfill her request, nervously staring at the door like I was robbing a bank, waiting for the cops to come in and bust me. She was wonderful though. Digi helped us get through what could have been a really difficult night. In fact, Tara called our night together “romantic.” We seriously need to get out more. Post-double mastectomy resolution: Take wife out on more dates so she doesn’t think a night together in the hospital is romantic. But, I guess in some ways, it was romantic.
Yesterday ended up being Tara’s last in the hospital. It seemed like a revolving door of smiles entering our room. Dr. Nakhlis had to don her cape and fly out to the West Coast, so her colleague stopped by in the morning to reassure us of the good news from the day before. The uber-gifted Dr. Chun soon followed to check up on us and remind us that everything went great. Our new nurse Jenny removed the IVs and tubes, and Tara (literally) slept through her visit from the super-nice physical therapist, mumbling that she was listening from time to time. The therapist was supposed to review exercises with my wife, but instead she just reviewed them with me... I felt kind of silly when she made me put my hands behind my head and “do the butterfly.” During the morning, Tara and I got a chance to spend some time together, and she told me about all the wonderful people that I never got a chance to meet who were in the operating room with her. She may have been disoriented and unconscious during the surgery, but she was deeply appreciative of the support from those people in that room, and so am I.
When Tara’s siblings arrived, I gave my wife a kiss goodbye to head home and pick up the kids from school. The aunties and “uncohs” did a tremendous job watching the kiddos while we were at the hospital (the Shuman children were outnumbered 4 to 2, and I STILL feared for the sanity of the adults who took care of them). But, I selfishly wanted to see the kids, hang out with them, feed them dinner, and put them to bed. As I walked down the hallway of the 7th floor and watched nurses, PCAs, and doctors hard at work, Anne’s words suddenly came back to me. These people dedicate their lives to making people healthier. They chose their profession. They make a difference. And they made a difference for my wife.
Tara was discharged later in the evening and it was home to her parents’ house for the first phase of her recovery. We figured that it would be safer that way, given the two little monsters at our house. Teddy cried last night for his mom. He hasn’t seen her since Wednesday morning, so the little guy was “Mommy-sick.” Instead, we grabbed all the pictures of Mommy from his room, brought them to bed, and sang “the Mommy song.” It’s basically me just making up words about him and Tara… and I don’t do requests, so don’t ask me to sing it. A few cries from the room followed and then it was off to sleep. I got a chance to hang out with my drugged up wife last night for a bit, but she slept most of the time. Fine by me. She was "home" at her parents and doing well.
Right now, it’s another beautiful morning to round out a beautiful week. I dropped the kids off at school and made a beeline for Tara’s recovery house. I ran upstairs, opened the door to her parents’ room and of course, Tara was up and walking. Incredibly well, might I add. I looked at her and smiled, noticing something in her hand. Yup, it was a back scratcher. It has become her new favorite toy. She even itches her nose with it and falls asleep with it in her hand, which come to think of it, is not safe and I will take it from her now.
The most important thing is that Tara is home, doing well, and on the road to recovery. Her family and I are now her caregivers, and thankfully, we are well prepared after our time at Faulkner Hospital. So, on behalf of Tara and all of her family, I want to take a moment to tell all the doctors, nurses, PCAs, therapists, and staff at Faulkner, “Thank you for what you do.”