Kindness After Surgery Made All The Difference

Having surgery didn’t scare me. It terrified me. I’d never been put under with anesthesia before, and that, combined with my love of horror stories, didn’t help. I envisioned waking up during the procedure, just like the unfortunate characters in my favorite tales. Thankfully, I was greeted with kindness after surgery.

Six Weeks of Firsts

Last fall, I decided to be proactive. After seeing information about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I did a self-exam.

I found a lump. At first, I pulled my fingers away from my skin and questioned if I really felt anything. Then I tried again, and the hard, grape-sized mass was still just beneath my fingertips. I ignored it. “It must be a side effect of monthly hormones or a fatty deposit,” I told myself. No big deal.

A week later, it was still there. I asked my husband if he could feel it. He did. Then I felt it again, and again. Two days later, I visited my gynecologist. She felt it, too. Over the next several weeks, I endured my first mammogram, sonogram, biopsy, and surgery.

Just What I Needed

On surgery day, I said my tearful goodbyes to my family and walked down a long corridor with a nurse. She led me into the operating room and asked me to get onto the table. They chatted about the music on the radio — an old Madonna song. Everything was sterile and blinding white. After I was in position, they put an oxygen mask over my face. I was told that it would help me feel more relaxed.

The next thing I remember was waking up in a recovery room. My vision was blurry, and I could hear quick footsteps. A machine close by beeped in a boring rhythm. I shivered uncontrollably.

“Angie, do you need anything?” a voice near my head asked. In my drug-induced stupor, I asked for a puppy to snuggle with.

A few minutes later, my nurse returned with warm blankets and his cellphone. Because I was still unable to move or sit up, he held his phone above my face and asked if I could see it. My vision was clearing, and I saw a fat cat, then a dog, then another dog. The animals smiled, rolled, and posed for the camera. My nurse told me about his pets as I rested. He asked about my two dogs, and I filled his ear. Slowly, my nerves started to calm and my shivering decreased.

That nurse’s kindness after surgery was just what I needed. His thoughtfulness created a diversion from my medical surroundings, the impending lab results, and the painful recovery ahead. When I completed my postoperative survey, I thanked the staff for their kindness and added a note about the recovery-room nurse who shared his pet pictures. This small gesture made all the difference.

Image source: Flickr, Flickr2