The day of the surgery brings joy, anxiousness, anticipation, and fear.
Crystal’s Return To A Normal Life Begins
The Morning of the Surgery
Crystal was awake half an hour early that Wednesday. She was excited, yet nervous about the coming events of this day. This day she’d longed for, prayed for, and looked forward to since right after the accident. And now it was a reality. She lay there, smiling as she watched Erick sleep, not wanting to disturb him till the alarm made its presence known. “Heavenly Father,” she softly prayed, “I thank You and praise You for bringing Erick into my life to love me. Especially at a time when I need more love and support than I’ve ever before needed in my life. I thank You that he is here to care for me, and push me back to a normal life. But most of all I thank You and praise You for the wonderfully deep, and ever so very meaningful, important and wonderfully intimate love and devotion You have given the two of us to share for a lifetime. I ask that you bring me through this surgery with no problems, no danger to my survival or health, that I can continue to be here for Erick as he has been for me. And that we may be there for each other throughout our life together. In Jesus’ name, Amen." Erick stirred as the alarm went off. With a bit of effort, Crystal managed to roll over on her right side and reach it with her arm, turning it off. “Good morning, darling,” she cooed as she leaned a little farther toward him, looking for their first kiss of the day. “OOPS!” she laughed. “Sorry, honey!”
Erick laughed. “Baby, other than saying my prayer to Him, and maybe having my arms around you to begin with, there’s no better way I love waking up than having you lose your balance on your side and roll over on top of me, my love!” he laughed warmly. He helped her back up onto her side, then gave her the morning kiss they both craved. “We’d better get moving, baby. We have to be at the hospital in an hour and a half!” he said, sliding out of bed.
”I know, honey,” she laughed. It’s just not that easy getting up two hours ahead of our normal routine. You know?” she laughed again.
”Tell me about it, Beautiful!” he laughed as he tossed her panties, skirt and bra onto the bed. Followed , of course, by his own shorts, slacks and t-shirt. “What top do you want today, honey?”
”Give me the light blue pullover sweater, honey. It’s lightweight so I won’t be hot.
He tossed it on the bed as he reached to pick her up. “Let’s get moving, baby,” he said as he carried her to the bathroom.
Crystal giggled. “Now don’t forget, honey. This is a weekday, so we don’t have time for you to get us turned on in the shower. Remember that, OK?” she laughed as he stood her on the mat. She grabbed the solid plastic ring Erick had put on the shower curtain rod in place of his old belt. I’m ready, honey!”
Erick laughed with her as he turned on the water. “Your wish is my command, Princess!”
”Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Metcalf,” Dr. Bernhardt said as they entered the hospital a short time later. “If you’ll follow me, we’ll get down to business.”
”That sounds good to me!” Crystal shouted. I can’t wait for this!”
”Erick, we’d never know she’s enthusiastic about this just from listening to her, would we?” Dr. Bernhardt laughed.
”Okay, okay!” Crystal conceded, blushing and laughing at the same time. They all laughed as they arrived at Dr. Bernhardt's hospital office.
”Seriously though, Crystal, I want you to definitely remember what I told you last time about that enthusiasm of yours. Do you remember? “
”Yes, doctor, I do. You said not to lose it That it would be a big help in getting me through the therapy and practice.”
”Precisely!” he laughed. “Do either of you have any questions before we set things in motion?” he asked.
”I do, Dr. Bernhardt. Um… when they’re doing the permanent placement on the contacts in my arm and leg, can Erick watch? I’d feel much more relaxed about things if I knew he was satisfied with the alignment of them.”
”Crystal, I can certainly arrange that I think. Are we ready to go?” Dr. Bernhardt asked, intentionally phrasing it that way for Crystal’s benefit. And she caught it.
”What kind of a question is THAT?” she laughed. “Let’s get moving!” Erick and Dr. Bernhardt laughed with her.
”Okay, Crystal,” Dr. Bernhardt said. “You’ll still need to wear the traditional hospital gown for this. I’ll wait in the hallway while Erick helps you into it, and puts you on the gurney. When he wheels you out the door, we’ll head for surgery. We’re due there in not quite ten minutes.”
A few short minutes later, Erick rolled the gurney out the door into the hallway. As they went down the hall, Erick’s curiosity got the best of him. “Dr. Bernhardt, I’m very thankful that I get to be with Crystal through this, and even to help. How come I get to do this? It’s not normal procedure, right?”
”You’re right, Erick, it’s not normal hospital procedure. But many of my patients are either very emotional people to begin with, as Crystal is, or still somewhat traumatized emotionally from the accident or whatever that cost them their limbs, or both. I’ve made arrangements with the hospital to allow someone close to such patients to be in the operating room, and if possible, to participate, as you will. Being specific here, Crystal will be far more relaxed with you there, especially knowing that you are watching over her, and ready to ask questions if you feel the need. It took some doing for a while, but hospital management finally had to agree that things go much better when they let me do it this way. That it’s actually less risk for them because everyone involved is in a better, safer frame of mind. Patients are more cooperative, things go much smoother, with far less risk, to both patient and staff as a result."
Stopping just outside the operating room, he turned to Erick as an attendant approached. “Erick, this is Maria. She’ll give Crystal her topical anesthetic, and while it’s working she’ll help you get scrubbed and into your gown and mask. I’ll see you both in the operating room in a moment. Ready for a reasonably normal life again, Crystal?” Dr. Bernhardt laughed, already knowing what he’d hear.
”You bet!” Crystal said rather loudly.
”Yep, that’s the answer I expected from my fighter!” Dr. Bernhardt laughed as he walked through the doors to prepare for the surgery.
”Crystal, this anesthetic is topical,” Maria said as she applied it to the ends of Crystal’s stumps. “This way you won’t feel the procedure exposing your nerves but the nerves themselves will still respond. Got it?”
”Got it,” Crystal said as Maria finished.
”OK, Mr. Metcalf, let’s get you ready to help your wife, shall we?” she asked, smiling, as she guided him to the nearby sink to scrub up. “Use this soap, and wash your arms and hands three times, all the way up to your elbows. Once you begin, don’t touch anything. I’ll turn the water off when you’re done.” Crystal watched as Erick did as he’d seen the doctors do in all those movies. “You really have to do it this way, huh?” he said, smiling.
”Yep, that’s the rules,” Maria said as she watched to be sure he complied. She held out a hand. “Pull the towel out of this bag but don’t touch the bag as you do, dry your hands on the towel, then throw it in this basket over here,” she said, indicating the large white cloth laundry bag hanging nearby. When he was done, she picked up the gown and held it for him. “Let’s get you dressed for the occasion, Dr. Metcalf,” she said, smiling. Erick slipped his arms into it then turned around so Maria could tie it in the back. Next, she held the surgical gloves for him to slip his hands into. “These are needed to keep the germs on your hands from creating problems,” she said as she pulled them tight on his arms. She handed him the mask. “And, now that you have the gloves on, you can put this on yourself, then I’ll tie it behind your head. “Come with me, Dr. Metcalf,” she chuckled as she led him through the door to the operating room.
”See you in a minute, Dr. Metcalf,” Crystal said, smiling, as he disappeared. Erick stuck his head back through the swinging door a second, smiled and said, “I’ll be waiting, Beautiful!” Crystal smiled as he left again.
Two minutes later, Maria returned, and wheeled Crystal through the doors into the operating room. “We’re all set, Crystal,” she said, smiling. “Just relax. Don’t say anything unless you're asked, but in the meantime listen to everything you can. You’ll know more about what’s happening, how things are going, and stay more relaxed BECAUSE you know. Get it?”
”Got it,” Crystal said.
”And have a little fun too,” said Maria. Like I said, don’t talk unless they ask you something, but see for yourself if you can figure out where Erick and Dr. Bernhardt are in here. Make a game of keeping track of them if you get nervous. But never stop listening. That’s the most important part for you. OK?”
”Got it, Maria.” As instructed, Crystal said no more. She looked around her, and saw four green gowns. Dr. Bernhardt, Erick, and two ladies, whom Crystal took to be nurses. As she began to finally feel really and truly nervous about this, she looked at Erick. “Yep, Dr. Bernhardt’s right again,” she said silently to herself. “God I’m so glad Erick’s with me!”
At that very moment, she immediately relaxed as she heard Erick say quietly, "I'm right here, baby! And I'll be here the whole time. I love you!" As always, he knew even now what she needed most.