Tuesday afternoon at Atlantic Orthopaedic
The next day as we await Dr. Sutherland’s second opinion, the nurses ask Hannah what she is taking for the pain. Extra-strength Tylenol. They perk up, saying admiringly, You are a tough cookie. Dr. Sutherland checks the CT scan and X-rays and confirms that Hannah has a compression of the tibia. She’ll need screws and plates to secure the bone, and possibly a bone graft. He is hopeful and encouraging and our spirits are lifted by his reassuring demeanor and positive attitude.
At the end of our time together, he asks, Are you related to any Rothermels in the area that teach math? Bingo, he’s speaking of Molly. It turns out Molly had been his kids’ eighth grade math teacher at Rye Junior High School in nearby Rye, NH before she moved to Virginia five years ago. Dr. Sutherland beams when he thinks of her and her positive influence on his kids.
Not knowing when to expect an appointment, we wait for the scheduling secretary to meet with Dr. Sutherland. Fifteen minutes later she approaches; Dr. Sutherland would like to set up surgery for Thursday. With wide eyes, You mean this Thursday! It is way more than we had hoped for! She asks, Does that work for you? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. We are beside ourselves with the second best news since we’ve had since her accident. The first? Dr. Sutherland being her doctor!
The 230P time for surgery Thursday seems unusual since we think of surgery happening earlier in the day. Pleased as punch, we see the clouds part, the sun shine, the funk dissipates, and the green malaise oozes from our pores down the drain. We are whole again, well not literally for Hannah, but Dr. S has lifted our spirits and restored our hope. We believe deep in our hearts that he made a special arrangement for Hannah to have the operation so quickly, and we thank the Molly connection, Hannah’s sweet and life affirming disposition, and living in small town New England. We’ve been given Hope.
At the same time, Owen Daniel and Mom and Dad are preparing to head home from the Alexandria (Virginia) hospital.
I have the opportunity to do what I committed to do forty years ago at our wedding on her Dad’s Christmas tree farm in Penfield, NY (i.e., in sickness and in health): care for Hannah. I slowly and tenderly raise her left leg to the waiting pillows on our living room sectional couch. Taking walks around the first floor of our house keeps the blood flowing, Hannah keeps herself occupied; she is adjusting to a new, restricted movement reality. Tapping on our lap top and texting with friends and family, she passes the time. A shower takes 25 minutes, but she’s not going anywhere. Hannah has little interest in TV and never really has. She sleeps on the couch with her left leg propped on pillows. It’s more Extra strength Tylenol for the pain. It’s her best night of sleep in three days. Thank you Dr. Sutherland.
Wednesday we wait, buoyed by the appointment tomorrow afternoon and the doctor who will perform the surgery who gives her confidence. We Skype with Molly and Tip, but it’s Owen who has our full attention. We talk/dream of going to Virginia in a few weeks, not months. The mission of our visit has been altered for Hannah; it will not be to cook and housekeep, but to hold her grandson as they rock as one.
The FOH (Friends of Hannah) set up a schedule to bring us meals for the next two weeks. Once midnight comes prior to surgery, Hannah can have neither food nor liquids, including no water. She is still pumped with a double dose of hope, her doctor and Thursday surgery.
And one last thing regarding this “tough cookie:” she’s resilient, but she’s no rock. When she gets cut (literally and figuratively), she bleeds; when she’s hurt or disappointed, she cries. (N.B., She cries when she’s happy, too.) Some people have put Hannah on a pedestal. She’s no Saint Hannah. She’s a damn good person. To put her on pedestal is to distance her from the adorer; it’s an easy next step to believe that since Hannah is so competent and able that she doesn’t need the care, attention, and nourishing we all need. She does. She’s a lottery pick no doubt, but she gets lonely, sad, and weary. She’s fed by her family and friends who tend to her, listen to her, and let her help them. Keep the cards, letters, emails, and visits acoming.
Though not sleeping quite as well this Wednesday night, we are ready for her surgery and to start Hannah’s likely twelve week recovery.