“WIGGLE YOUR FINGERS FOR ME!”
“Wiggle your fingers, Sarah”
“WIGGLE YOUR FINGERS FOR ME! MAKE AN OK SIGN! CAN YOU MAKE A CLAW?”
The Emergency Room doctor was shouting at Sarah on the other side of a thin curtain. I was on the other side of the curtain because family members aren’t allowed to watch sensitive medical procedures. Apparently I looked cool-headed enough that he didn’t think I’d rush in at the first sign of unease or discomfort on her part.
He was shouting because she was heavily anesthetized, enough so that they had her on a breathing mask and monitored her pulse with the machine that goes ‘ping’ at regular intervals. Moments ago I had watched them install it and memorized the noise in case it became erratic during the procedure.
In order to make sure he hadn’t just damaged the nerves that allow her to move her fingers and use her left hand, he wanted her to demonstrate in some way. She wasn’t responding, possibly because she was still out of it. Hence, the screaming.
It sounded like it had gone well enough. I was just 5 feet from Sarah, and though I couldn’t see her, I was monitoring their tone of voice looking for some sort of clue of concern. In this effort, my fascination with poker tells was of good use. Accelerated speech, high tone of voice, or the doctor starting to be less polite and give orders to the nurse and orderly would have been the warning signs I was hoping not to hear.
Once under, they had assured us she wouldn’t feel anything, nor would she remember any of it. Though she didn’t remember it, I heard her scream five times while she was out of it as they replaced her elbow pieces in the socket. I suspect that was why they wanted me out of the room.
Beforehand, as they fitted her for the mask, I knew this was a minor procedure, but wary of the symbolism of the event, the last thing I said to her was, “I’ll be here when you wake up”, I squeezed her ankles and blew her a kiss.
FIVE MINUTES AGO:
Doctor: “You understand that there is a small chance that this procedure could cause nerve damage? I’ll need you to sign this consent form. If you choose not to sign it, we can make arrangements to have to transported elsewhere for treatment.”
Sarah: “I’m in so much pain that I can’t make a decision, sweetie, you decide what to do.”
Me: “Doctor, have you replaced a dislocated elbow before?”
Doctor: “Yes, lots.”
THIRTY MINUTES AGO:
They sent me out of the room while they x-rayed Sarah. They didn’t close the door, so I was able to watch them work, even though I couldn’t help. The contortions they put her into to get a good x-ray looked painful.
TWO HOURS AGO:
I’m at the bottom of Mt. Sunapee, leaning on my new snowboard, waiting for Sarah. A woman skis up and asks if I’m Shabbir.
Me: “Um, yeah, were you with my wife? Another snowboarder told me she fell and injured her arm.”
Woman: “Yeah, she messed it up pretty bad. I spent a nice hour with her and they’re bringing her down now.”