All in all, it was no big deal, and I'm glad to check it off my to-do list. I am left with a clean slate, colon-wise, and with four vividly colored, glossy photos of scenic spots along the way. You know how much I enjoy posting photos, but I'll spare you these.
My younger daughter, Kelli, had surgery this morning on her wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome) and her elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome). The doctors used some kind of nerve-blocking method instead of general anesthesia, so Kelli was able to call me while her husband drove her home. She said she's doing great "except for the dead weight" that is her arm at present.
I know she'll be fine, but the idea of her having elbow surgery gives me unpleasant flashbacks to a time in 1975, just weeks after her 11th birthday.
I arrived home from work late one afternoon, having stopped at the grocery store, to find my daughters and some friends playing in the front yard. As I popped the trunk lid to unload the groceries, Kelli approached and said, "We were playing a game where one kid stands on a broomstick while two other kids pick it up, and I fell off and hurt my elbow." I'm sure I must have made some attempt at a soothing, maternal reply, but I don't remember the specifics.
Kelli helped me carry in the groceries. Only when I noticed she was still hanging around the kitchen did I stop to take a look at her elbow, and I was shocked to find it swollen nearly twice its normal size. We sent our dinner guest home with nothing to gnaw on but apologies, then drove immediately to the emergency room. That's where we learned that the tip of Kelli's "funny bone" had been broken off and would need to be surgically repaired the next morning.
In those days, at least in that place in New York, parents were not allowed to spend the night in the hospital with their children. In fact, parents' visitation was confined to regular visitation hours. The doctor did assure us we'd be able to see Kelli for a few minutes before she went into surgery the next morning, and someone told us exactly what time we could come. Kelli was brave, but I was heartbroken to leave her there alone.
The following morning, because Kelli's accident had happened after I left work the day before, we left the house extra early, stopped by my office to leave file-cabinet keys for my boss, and arrived at the hospital half an hour before the time we'd been told we could see Kelli. We weren't early enough. They'd moved her surgery ahead by more than an hour, and she was already in surgery when we arrived. It still makes me tear up to think about her facing that experience alone.
After the surgery, the doctor told us that they had successfully screwed the broken bone fragment back in place and that Kelli was in recovery and doing well. We asked when we could see her. "Why, tonight, of course, during regular visiting hours."
Visiting hours arrived, and so did we. We walked in to see Kelli with a cast on one arm and a pot of flowers in the other one. She was up, walking around, moving the flowers for another little girl who'd been moved in to share her room. That's my girl.
I don't remember how many days Kelli stayed in the hospital, but I do remember that the doctor told us she'd be released as soon as he made his rounds on Friday. Friday happened to be a Good Friday. The doctor happened to have decided to get an early start on his Easter weekend trip to the Hamptons, and he didn't make rounds that Friday. When the three of us (including older sister, Kim) showed up to take Kelli home, we were advised that we couldn't do that, because the doctor hadn't released her. He'd be back on Monday, they said.
We stood there for about half a minute, grappling with the idea of leaving an 11-year-old girl in the hospital for two extra days unnecessarily, then my husband bent and scooped up Kelli in his arms. I followed his lead and grabbed her stuff, and the four of us headed to the exit. We stopped once, in an attempt to pay the bill, but they told us they couldn't give us a total until after the doctor released her. My husband replied, "Well, then, I guess you'll have to bill us later. I'm taking her home now."
And he did. She was home for Kim's birthday sleepover that night and home for her Easter basket on Sunday morning.
The only other thing I remember about this episode occurred later, when I took Kelli to the doctor's office for a scheduled follow-up appointment. We showed up at the appointed date and time, only to discover that the doctor's office was locked up tight and had a sign on the door: "Closed for Duration of Strike." Yes, there was a doctors' strike in New York in 1975.
I don't remember how or when we got the cast off Kelli's arm, but I know we got it done.