"The whole value of solitude depends upon one’s self; it may be a sanctuary or a prison, a haven of repose or a place of punishment, a heaven or a hell, as we ourselves make it” – John Lubbock

I was dropped off at the hospital a little after 8 a.m. I  kissed my sons goodbye and told them I would see them later. 

Having spent a fair amount of time in the hospital as a child, I was not the least bit anxious. Childhood surgeries, three pregnancies, laparoscopies, you name it. I was a pro at surgery. As a child, I actually liked being in the hospital. It was the only time I got undivided attention and people gushed over me.

Is there no one with you?


Well, you cannot go home alone. Who is picking you up?

(Mumbles an answer that seems to be acceptable)

I am soon directed by a volunteer. A Jamaican young man takes me one floor up and instructs me in my attire, my locker, key, where to go. Before he leaves, he asks:

“Is there anyone with you?”

I tell him the same thing I told admitting. I am beginning to get annoyed.

I change my clothes, lock up my belongings, slide on the grey furry booties and enter the pre op waiting area. The room is filled with ten or so patients and three nurses.  Every patient (except for me) is accompanied by a child, a parent, a grandparent or boyfriend. I scan the room and take a seat in a far corner.

My name is soon called and I go into another room with a nurse.

“Is there anyone with you?”

I fight to urge to snap back at her. I respond by telling there is no one. She takes my vitals, inserts an IV line into my left arm, and questions me about my right hand. She asks if I can remove my nose piercing. I indicate I cannot. That was a little white lie. Truth was I did not want to. It’s a bitch to put back in. It is so small. They aren’t operating on my face. Just deal with it. She covers the piercing with a small piece of tape.

She leaves and the nurse anesthetist joins me.

More questions about my health history, my surgery, a belated birthday wish and then the question:

“Is there anyone with you?”

I am boiling now. Jesus H. No for god sakes, do you SEE anyone? Trust me, I don’t have Stuart Little in my pocket. Caspar the Friendly Ghost is not in the chair next to me.

Back I go out to the holding tank to sit amongst the patients and all their Anyones.  I am sans anyone. I sit alone.

An hour later the anesthesiologist arrives. Shakes my hand, mumbles something in heavily accented English. I shake my head. Before he leaves me, the usual:

“Is there anyone with you?”.

“No”. I state firmly. Other patients turn to look at me. I realize I was a bit rude. I manage a weak smile.

I decide to hide behind my sheath of red bangs. I look down at my lap and swing my feet.

“Scuse me, Suz, are you okay?” a voice questions.

I look up. It’s the first nurse. Linda. I assure her I am fine. She tells me a male doctor walked by and saw me with my face down and worried that since I was alone I might be upset.

I sigh.

Moments later I am escorted to the OR. As I enter the sterile room and see all the machines, lights and medical personnel I get a flash of anxiety. I suddenly feel terribly alone.

I remember this feeling. I have flashbacks. I scoot up onto the table and my anxiety arrives in full force.

I lay back and the anesthesiologist starts the line. Just as I begin to feel woozy, I start to cry.

I see my eighteen year old self about to give birth. I was alone then too.

Only then, no one, not a single soul cared that I was alone. No one asked me how I was, who was picking me up or how I was feeling. They barely talked to me or looked at me. They weren’t interested in me. They were interested in the high priced commodity I would expunge from my womb.

Seems it acceptable to give birth to your first child, alone, one thousand miles from home, in the company of strangers but it’s not acceptable to get a four inch slice cut into your hand to relieve carpal tunnel pressure.

3 Thoughts.

  1. Speaking as a nursing student; we ask because we care. We don’t want you to be alone.
    Speaking as a human being who feels the trauma that you went through, I just want to give you a bif=g (((((hug))))
    Hope that hand heals soon.

  2. I think that maybe in part because it is so horrendous for a mother to give birth alone that people don’t want to face/cope/have to see it?

  3. That we did this to thousands of women says something very disturbing about our society.
    How does the saying go? A society can be judged by the way it treats the weakest of its members? Most definitely true here.

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