Matt, you woke to find me in tears, my floodgates open. I guess you could say my mother’s intuition was full blown and I could no longer put on that brave face. I was terrified. As a nurse, I knew all about the disasters associated with having back surgery and my fear for you was out of control. I gave you a million excuses, Oh, I just finished a Nicholas Sparks book and you know what a sucker I was for a sob story. Nope, not buying it. Ok Matt, you want the truth I’ll tell you the truth. I’m scared to death that you will have acute post op pain that you won’t be able to handle. You will be given narcotics for that pain. The nightmare will begin again. Ok, I’ve said it. You shaking your head. Mom, I’m not having surgery without pain meds. I know Matt we just have to be very careful. You are going to have to expect some pain. I’m going to have to tell Dr. K about our secret. No Mom. Yes, Matt.
Your surgery took place on a crisp winter morning. You won the spot of first case. From a nurses point of view, that spot was priceless, a gift from God. Fresh surgeon, fresh O.R. team. Yay. You , on the other hand were pissed. We had to be at the hospital by 5am. You hated hospitals and you were becoming very verbal in letting everyone know. Thank God for your brother Mike. You would only go with him. OK, so all of a sudden I’m not good enough. What a bunch of crap. I could see the transformation before my eyes, your attitude becoming aggressive, you pacing like a caged cat. What the hell, Matt, what did you take. Tell me now…
I followed you and Mike, my heart pounding in my chest. I’ve got to talk to someone before you get pack to pre-op. Let them know about your past and possibly present use. Thank God, no traffic as I raced to the hospital leaving you behind in the care of your brother, I had more important things to do. God was with me that morning as I ran into the hospital and right into Dr. K. He grabbed me as I broke down and started to tell him the story I had kept hidden from the world. We sat, I cried, he comforted. He understood. He was aware of your behavior during the testing and had a doctor’s intuition that let him know he was about to take on his most challenging patient. We hugged. He left me to go scrub his eyes letting me know you were safe in his hands.
You and Mike arrived. You complaining how hungry you were. Mike telling you to get a grip. Me praying they called you back soon. Please Matt, don’t cuss at the nurses. They are here to help you, how would you feel if someone cussed at me. Please Matt, I work here don’t embarrass me. We need to get through this together. You, me and Mike, together. Your name was called, we hugged and a sweet nurse led you back as I dissolved into your brothers arms praying you didn’t act out without one of us at your side. Mike and I take our seats. Mike hears his name. Oh Boy, Matt and the IV’s again. OK, Mike you handle it I just can’t do this battle again. At least I don’t hear your angry voice as the sweet nurse leads Mike back to come to your rescue. We get to see you as you are wheeled back to the O.R. You laying on the stretcher with the surgical hat on thinking this is the funniest thing you’ve ever done. Oh Boy, I don’t know what you were given but I want a dose for myself. I kiss your cheek, my tears hitting your face as I say goodbye and let them take you away.
Matt, sitting there waiting for word of how the surgery was going was torture. Mike was just quiet. Your grandmother came and said the rosary. Ray came on his lunch break. Heather came to bring Mike some lunch. I sat, numb wishing it were me instead of you, praying you would be the one in a million that would be whole after back surgery. I watched the O.R. board like a hawk, every time it lit up my eyes would follow and find your number. I felt like I was in college again. Every grade was given to your number. My nurse brain would not let me rest. I thought of every complication, of everything that goes wrong in the O.R. Oh God, let this end soon my nerves are shot and I knew the battle would begin again as soon as you felt pain.
Finally, Dr. K walks into the waiting room. I don’t even give him the chance to walk over. I am out of my seat like a sprinter as the gun fired. He grabs me and smiles. He was able to repair your deformed spine, but you are now stabilized with rods and screws. He will keep you as comfortable as possible. Thank God. Your awake, extubated, moving your legs and asking for pain meds.
We wait until you are being wheeled to your room. You have a PCA with Morphine. OK I tell myself. Your fresh post op. This is a necessary evil. Hopefully you will be controlled and taken off quickly. I feel sick. My memories of you using, your behavior, the Hey MaMa, all come rushing into my head. The detox, your body going through hell punch me in the gut sucking the breath out of my lungs. Oh God please keep the demon away. Let Matt have a chance to heal without the chaos his addiction brings to our life. Please God, Help.
I wait until you are tucked in. Everyone gone but me. I have to see you, to touch you to let you know we can get through this. Your color is good, compression boots on, vital signs stable. My nurse brain kicking in. I sit by your side like a mouse aware that the cat is in the room. Your breathing softly, comfortable. I check the dose on your PCA. You’re locked out, yup I’m not surprised, but you are sleeping. Thank God. The nurse comes in and hands me a blanket knowing I’m going no where. We exchange a look only shared between nurses, she knows. I’m not ashamed. She will be my alley in keeping you comfortably controlled. Little did we know the demons had their own plans and you were a sleeping lion waiting to devour anyone who stood in the way of your path to the demons you loved more than life.