My brother Tom broke his leg. When I visited the hospital the day he had surgery to repair the nasty fractures, I checked in at the visitors’ desk and found he’d been moved from the room I settled him in the night before. His surgery was scheduled for 4 p.m. and I arrived around 3, not thinking of the various preparations interspersed with periods of waiting that he would go through.
The surgery prep meant Tom left his room sooner then I’d expected. Fortunately, the wait made it possible for me to catch up with him along his way to the O.R. and the route I took to find him was an unforgettable ride.
A visitor information attendant explained that Tom had been moved from second floor, where I’d settled him in a room the night before, to third floor where he could be monitored more completely.
Past the information desk, I paced straight to the elevators. Since I’d just been instructed, I started up from ground level with confidence. I stepped off when the elevator door opened, then realized that I was only on second floor. I got back in; my #3 button was still lit (button #2 must have already been set before I got on). The doors closed and up I went to 3.
I stopped at the third floor nurses’ desk and inquired. Oh, Tom had been moved back to second floor but he is now in 234 next door to 232 where he’d first been put last night. Back to the elevators I went.
At the second floor nurses’ desk, I was told to go in his room and leave the bag of things I’d brought from home, but Tom had already been taken downstairs. I might be able to find him in the prep area outside of surgery on the ground floor.
Returning to the elevators, I pictured the shenanigans I’d been through and wondered if this wouldn’t be a great theme for a video game: Hospital Hoax — trapped in a hospital trying to find your way out. Players could wind through corridors, confronted by nasty nurses wielding bed pans and mad surgeons flailing scalpels with gurneys rolling out of control. The possibilities made me laugh.
Back where I started some time ago on the ground floor, a woman at the surgery waiting room desk directed me further when I explained the situation. I hurried along the corridor guessing Tom might already be in surgery when I rounded a corner and heard his voice. He was discussing types of anesthetic with a specialist.
I got to spend 20 minutes or so with him. The orthopedic surgeon who pieced me together so well several years ago was going to work on Tom. He acted non-chalant as though this would be pretty routine – take maybe an hour and a half. He would come and talk to me afterward so I should stick around the waiting area at that time.
More than three hours later, I was allowed to see Tom in recovery. The break had been worse than it first appeared, but hopefully things would start to mend. Soon we were riding the elevator back to the second floor room where I left his bag.
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