This past week, I had to take my infant over to the hospital for his routine exam under anesthesia, a process we have to follow because of my oldest child's cancer. I've taken my children through this process more than two dozen times, and while it's traumatic, it's routine. What I didn't expect was for me to experience anxiety this time around. Usually, we do our EUA's on the "surgery center waiting room" - it's a room the size of my kitchen, very informal, very friendly. The recovery room is tiny, and it's very easy to go in-and-out to each part of the operating room/recovery/waiting room. That is the "S" floor. Well, that morning, I went to the "S" floor to check in -- like I've done all of the dozen or so times -- and was told that I had to take Evan to the "10th floor." Really? I've never been to the 10th floor. Why would we need to go there?
I went into the elevator, pushed "10" and waited, expecting a new adventure. The doors opened, and I nearly passed out..... this was the floor where we brought my oldest child to have her enucleation - the removal of her eye due to a rare and destructive cancer. I had not been back to that floor since August 18, 2005.
I waited by the front desk as other patients were checking in. I saw the same woman -- who had a prosthetic eye -- take insurance cards and check ID's. I looked to my left and saw the room that my entire family waited in while J was in surgery. I had to tell myself to 'breathe.' Once I checked in, I walked the long hallway - to the room where my family destracted ourselves by silently eating bagels and drinking coffee. I stood in the corner of the hallway where I called friends in Long Island, whispering the words, "J has cancer. She is in surgery now."
I've dealt with J's journey through speaking engagements, fundraising, and class lectures, yet I never realized how the emotions would come flooding back when I entered the 10th floor.
My infant's name was called to go to the OR, and I carried him - like I carried J - down the elevator. The same elevator closed behind me, the same doors that closed when my husband fainted and fell into his father's arms. I went downstairs to the operating room, sat in the same chair I rocked J in just after her enucleation. Thankfully, it didn't last long. My son and I were at the hospital by 6:00am and out by 9:15am. I think it was good to go down that road again, since being on that floor was such a blur on August 18, 2005. But, I'd be just fine not going back there again...!