Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part III

I’d gotten my bestie to borrow a book from our local library that I wanted to read (she does their bookkeeping for them so is there once about every 10 days already) and I wanted to get it back to her to return. She starts work at 8:30 in the morning, so, after I had two cups of coffee, I put my overnight bag in my car and the book in hand and drove to her work parking lot to meet her when she got there. After that, I left immediately for the Bethlehem branch of St. Luke’s Health Network. I was so glad I had a GPS to direct me. There was construction that had restricted a part of the journey to one-lane of traffic, and as I sat waiting for my turn to move forward and maybe get through, my ‘check engine’ light came on. Now, I’d had a few times where the car would shut off on me when I was sitting still (not while I was moving) and my first thought was that maybe there was water in the gas line because we’d had an unusual amount of rain in the recent weeks. But, seeing that light made me nervous. I mean, who wants to be stranded in an unknown place and possibly end up needing towed to a garage (at least I have AAA) and being at the mercy of said unknown garage? There was a road to my left and since the traffic moving through the single lane hadn’t reached as far as where I was sitting, I made the decision to take that left and see if I could somehow get passed that construction area. (Did I mention how glad I was to have GPS?) I had enough sense of direction so that I knew I was going to have to make two right turns at some point to get me back to the road I needed to be on. I managed to make good judgement calls on when to make those turns, and I came back to that same road where there was two-way traffic.

The hospital was located in an area which, to get to it, meant a lot of one-way streets, street parking on both sides, homes right up to the edge of the street except for a narrow sidewalk. Between navigating that, the school buses and the fact that my check-engine light was still on, I was quite a bit anxious until I could see the hospital in front of me. I remember letting out a big exhale upon finding it, since my predicted 40-minute drive time was already at 70 minutes. Like most hospitals, the emergency room was off to one side of the building, and in another brief moment of luck, there was a handicapped parking slot that was open. I successfully managed to back my car into it, grabbed the placard and hung it on my mirror, grabbed my overnight bag and purse, double checked that I wasn’t forgetting something, got out of the car, locked it and proceeded into the ER.

I had a small wait in line at the reception desk (I was the third in line), and I learned that the lady behind me needed to go to the desk to find out where she could join her husband, who had just been brought in on the ambulance. Of course, me being who I am, I stepped aside and asked her to go in front of me. When it was my turn, I had the print-out from the ER in my area in hand and explained that I was told to come to this hospital and check into this ER. The female at the desk seemed confused so she asked me to have a seat and she’d get somebody to come talk to me. It took about 10 minutes before someone came to see me. I explained (yet again) why I was there, and she said I’d need to be registered and went to speak to the lady at the desk. I waited a half-hour for this lady to call me back over, then went and stood back in line again. I got registered and sat down to wait once again. At about noon time (I’d been there since 10 AM), I was called forward. I went into an office for what I am assuming was an intake, and I had to start at the very beginning of the story (my fall) and everything that had happened regarding it until the moment she spoke with me. (NOTE: If you’re wondering why I can remember the dates and events so easily, it’s because that information had been practically memorized by me having to tell it over and over and over again.) From there, I was sent into an exam room. A nurse (Christine) and a nurse’s assistant (Caily) came in to see me. They didn’t say much, but I got the standard hospital bracelet and a gown to change into. I put my overnight bag and removed clothing, etc. into a chair in the room. An hour later, I opened the exam room door and asked if there was a restroom I could use. There were two, and I went into the one that was farther away from the waiting room, thinking it might be less busy. A couple of times, Christine and Carly checked in on me, but the rest of the time I sat there and looked at the wall in front of me. I did have two different doctors come in to speak to me, who I later learned were trauma doctors who work only in the ER. Neither examined me in any way, which didn’t surprise me because they had access to my original set of x-rays that showed the broken and dislocated parts of my jaw. Shortly after 2:30 PM (it’s now more than 4 hours since I arrived at the hospital and 2-1/2 hours that I’ve been sitting in an exam room), I stepped out to again use the restroom. When I returned to the exam room, Christine and Caily seemed in a bit of a tizzy – they had come to get me to take me to get an MRI, after which I was being taken to the surgical wing. Hallelujah! My first MRI wasn’t bad in any way other than the machine being quite loud. Then I was put back into my bed from the exam room and pushed down the hall. Everything was happening quickly, and I was trying to keep my focus. When I got to outside of the surgery room, a woman came over and introduced herself as Dr. Rohloff, who would be my surgeon. Another person quickly introduced herself as my anesthesiologist, and a man walked over from security and I had to hand over my cash, credit cards and driver’s license for safekeeping. While that’s happening, another person is putting a bonnet on my head, another person is accessing a vein in my arm for the IV, another person is piling my overnight bag plus clear bags with my other belongings – purse, loose clothing, shoes, etc. – at the foot of my bed. They were ready to whisk me off and I said, “Wait a minute, please!” I had not had a chance to talk to the surgeon or ask any questions. She moved back close to me and I asked her two questions. I had other, probably even more important, questions, but everything was happening so quickly I couldn’t focus. I remember the bed starting to be wheeled forward, and I remember saying out loud, “Well, this is one way to make certain I don’t have time to ruminate and worry before surgery.” And then, I guess, I was out of it.