Friday, December 2, 2011

Anya's Frustrating Friday Morning at the Reeza Cheney Surgery Center

Thank you Jim and Katie at The Legendary!

Anya's Frustrating Friday Morning at the Reeza Cheney Surgery Center
by MaryAnne Kolton

She’s cold.  Shivering cold. 
“Excuse me,” she says.
There are at least ten women inside a big circular work area directly across from her cubicle.  No one responds.
“Excuse me please,” Anya repeats, louder this time. 
There’s a lot of noise out there.  Laughing, jangling bits of singing, more laughing.  She can’t get off the gurney, wired as she is to a pole with two bags of something dripping through tubes into the vein on the back of her left hand.
“Hello!”  She hollers.  “Can anybody over there hear me?”

An annoyed looking, middle-aged women with striking violet-red hair comes to her and says, “You don’t have to yell you know.  We’re just across the way at the desk.  Is there something you need?”
Anya debates with herself for about ten seconds before deciding it is not worth trying to explain that she did call politely several times.  Now she is so cold her teeth are chattering.  She stutters out, “Could I have another blanket, please?  I’m freezing.”
The woman makes a tsk and sigh sound of annoyance at Anya before she walks away.
The surgery facilitator had told them although Anya was not scheduled until eight o’clock they must arrive two hours beforehand.  They left home at four-thirty this morning allowing an hour and a half for the hour trip.  Snowflakes the size of nickels had been falling all night long.  Anya and her husband Marcus knew the freeway should be plowed but could not be certain.  When they pulled into the parking lot after a harrowing slip and slide trip, the office manager was just opening the center.
“We’re all running a bit late this morning.  Come in and I’ll get you situated.”
Marcus was asked to wait in an empty waiting room, cold like an icehouse, as the heat slowly pumped through the building.  That was the last Anya saw of him.
She was taken to a cubicle and told to change into the thin, much-laundered hospital gown and climb onto the gurney.  Nurses, anesthetists and clerical workers were beginning to surface.  One of them brought her a thin, heated blanket and started an IV.  When Anya asked what was in the bags on the pole, the nurse told her it was just something to make her “more comfortable.”  Anya wanted to tell her she would be a lot more comfortable if she was home in her own bed wrapped in her down comforter. 
Even though she had been the first to arrive, there were three surgeries scheduled before hers.  None of those people were here yet.  Apparently the doctor had also called and said she was going to be somewhat delayed.  The nurse, Liz, told Anya she might as well get some sleep if she could since she was in for a long wait.
“I’m too cold to sleep.”  Anya grumbled.  Within minutes Liz had brought her another heated cotton blanket.  She did not close the sliding curtain, so Anya could view all that transpired across from her.  Not once did anyone look in her direction.
As the nurses gathered behind the workstation there was much talk of children kept home because of a snow day, finding sitters and the slow pace of the Friday morning surgeries.
They were all anxious to get home.
            As the morning wore on and the doctor finally arrived, the nurses came and went from the station, three or four at a time.  Often it seemed they were all there, but Anya could not tell for sure.  She asked if her husband could come back and keep her company.  The answer was no.
            Now the nurses were talking about going out for lunch when they were done for the morning.  A poll was taken as to who liked their Margaritas frozen and who preferred them straight up.  One of them, the blonde girl who had implied she had something of great import to tell Anya and  looked to be fifteen, maybe sixteen, was looking for shoes at an online site called Shoe Story.  Soon they were all hanging over her shoulder and discussing the merits of first one pair and then another.  Anya learned that the redheaded nurse was the Supervisor.  She took part in both discussions.  Never chided any of the nurses for being on the computer instead of seeing to patients.  The doctor came to the desk twice to hand over paperwork and both times shared her opinion about the current pair of shoes on the screen. 
            No one checked on her. 
Upon arriving, she had handed over a folder of paperwork they had sent her in the mail three weeks ago.  She was told to fill it out and bring it with her.  Apparently, that told them everything they needed to know about her.  To Anya it seemed like she had been there for hours.  Cold, anxious, and upset by the lack of professionalism.
            Just as the disgruntled charge nurse finally brought her another warmed blanket, a young man who said he was the anesthesiologist came over to ask her name and how she was doing.  Before Anya could answer him, he was called away by someone else and never returned.
            A little later, two of the young women from the work desk came bustling into the room, adjusted her IV and wheeled her down the hall to the operating room.  On the way there, the now flustered anesthesiologist ran up to them, shoved a clipboard and pen at Anya and asked her to sign her name at the bottom of a statement saying he had discussed all the possible ramifications of the anesthesia he was about to administer.  Still rolling, she signed rather than argue.  In the operating suite she was met by five or six gowned and masked people, all wearing silly-looking, flattened, chef-like hats.
One of them said, “Hi, Anya.  I’m Doctor Ellen Ralston.  Do you remember me?”
Now this snip of a girl was treating her as if she was senile.  That, for Anya, was the last straw.
“Yes, Ellen, I do remember you.  It was only four weeks ago that we met.  You have a beautiful clock in your office that has stopped because you are too lazy to replace the battery.  You wear tight jeans, sweaters and boots to see patients.  Your hands are very cold.  You are divorced with no children.  Never really wanted any.  You like frozen Margaritas with lots of coarse salt on the rim of the glass and are partial to open-toed platform shoes with at least five-inch heels which you believe show off your well-developed runner’s calves to good advantage.  There’s a lot more, most of which I learned from listening to the girls who work for you while I waited.  The weekend with the Egyptian surgeon?  Shall I go on?”
“Well, let’s get started,” said Dr Ralston through a tight smile, looking away from Anya  “Put her to sleep.  Now.”
The young man who said he was the anesthesiologist leaned over Anya and the last thing she remembered was the wink and the gloved thumbs up he gave her before he sent her off to the  valley of nothingness.

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