Published in the Rains County Leader on October 15, 2019:
David had an endoscopic examination of his upper GI tract last week. The doctor was concerned because of some recent weight fluctuations. She ordered the test in spite of our explanations that he had stepped on the scale wearing a jacket with a cell phone, wallet, and other weighty items in the pockets during one visit and a T-shirt the next time. So, Friday morning we left the house in the driving rain and made the trek to the VA in Dallas. The traffic was backed up, the parking lot was full except in the very back, and the day surgery was the building where we weren’t, but we made it within minutes of our scheduled arrival time.
David checked in, and I was sent to the waiting room while he was prepped for his procedure. After he had changed into a pair of khaki scrub pants and some over-sized hospital socks and the nurse had put an IV into his hand, I was allowed to visit with him for a few minutes. It was a simple procedure, but it was still hard to go back to the waiting room, leaving him in the hands of strangers. Still, the waiting room provided some interesting diversions while I waited.
As I walked back into the large room where people were spread out with several chairs between them in order to preserve at least some sense of personal space, I saw a man and woman walking toward me. I have no idea what the man had just been through, but I did hear him announce rather loudly, “He didn’t say anything about getting high, so I’m going to smoke my weed.”
Pondering exactly what his doctor might have told him, I found my own semi-isolated seat and settled in to wait. I had both my phone and my Kindle with me so, like most of the others in the room, I was soon staring at a small screen. We have become people who avoid socializing with those around us by immersing ourselves in social media, but some people are impossible to shut out. One of those people walked in front of me pushing a double stroller and carrying enough luggage for a cross-country trek. She settled in at the other end of the room, so I didn’t interact with her directly, but it was impossible to ignore her and her two adorable little girls. I don’t believe they were twins, but they were three or four years old – and they were very verbal. The mother was very patient and well-prepared with snacks and toys, and one girl soon fell asleep. The other one had more staying power, though, and she kept up a running commentary the whole time she was there. When the mother was called in to be with her loved one, the silence she left behind was deafening and very welcome.
Another woman appeared to be accustomed to long stays in waiting rooms. She was working on her laptop when she was informed that her husband’s procedure had been cancelled because his INR level – something to do with blood clotting – was too high. She sighed, packed her computer into a red patent leather rolling case, picked up her matching purse, and headed back to the patient area with an air of resignation. This probably was not the first time something like this had happened, and having been a caregiver for many years, I could empathize.
Shortly after that, a lady sat down close to me and immediately announced to no one in particular that she was crocheting a long sweater coat. The lady across the aisle from her politely looked up, so she pulled her work-in-progress out of her bag and showed it to her. She had started at the bottom and had completed about eight inches, but she was concerned that it was going to be too big. She wrapped it around her legs to demonstrate how big it was. I allowed myself to be drawn in and reassured her that it didn’t look too big for a coat.
Soon after that an aide came out and told me I could come back and see David. The test showed nothing except a small benign polyp, and he was ready to go home as soon as he drank a little water and got dressed. He was a little unsteady on his feet, but we made it to the car without the aid of a wheelchair. He slept most of the way home and spent the rest of the day on the couch. It was a hard day, but it ended well. And I encountered some interesting people that might end up as characters in a book one day. Such is the life of a writer.