Fentanyl, Dilaudid, Morphine

The second doctor doesn't come to us.

We go with him to a small room off the side from the waiting area. I wonder the percentage of families that are corralled into this claustrophobia inducing room before their lives go sideways. Luckily, this new doctor states the patient did very well. She should be available in an hour. She should get to go home tomorrow. We thank him. He asks if we have any questions and my sister asks, "is there anything we should be asking?"
"No." He smiled? He nods? Perhaps he was expressionless... it's been hard to keep track of things since we got here. Anything other than the weight of her night bag is going over my head. "We'll tell you everything you need to know before she leaves."

He shakes our hands one more time. We thank him for his time and we all exit the dauntingly small room.
Lunch is cafeteria food! We go at the proper lunch hour so there is a swarm. As we head down my sister remarks that we missed the nacho bar on Tuesday. I shrug and mumble wearily. The whole day has been done through gritted teeth. The whole day has been held hostage by the threat of tears.
I get a 9 dollar baked potato from the baked potato bar just an hour before realizing I can't afford 9 dollar baked potatoes. Who really can? But that's not the point. My sister gets a veggie burger, primarily because she's a vegetarian, secondarily because the line with the macaroni was too long.

Small talk ensues.

When we get up to the surgery wing again my mother is awake. We can see her and it's finally my turn. My head pulls the trigger on it's threat when the nurse pulls the curtain back so I can see her. She reaches out and it's like a sad song on the radio. My throat is tight, my eyes water, I take her small wrinkled hand in mine and she motions for me to kiss her head. I am terrified so I ask the nurse if it's ok- she laughs and nods. My mom asks if I'm okay because I'm very visibly overwhelmed by the new tubes, her weakened voice, and this awakening to her general fragility and impermanence. I ask if she's okay and she nods. She's in pain but there's nothing else they can do about it. Apparently, some days they give you all the pain medication they can and it still feels uncomfortable.

The nurse hands me a tissue. She says I can ask her questions and she'll probably know the answer. She's referring to my mother, but I can't seem to think of what more to ask other than how she's feeling. She looks tired. She mentions she didn't sleep well, which is understandable. Every word seems to be a soft struggle. A battle just as hard as keeping her head in place and her eyes open. She bobs a little and asks again if I'm okay. I say yes when I mean no because that's what you do sometimes...and the nurse comes to tell me it's time to go. I let go of her hand and blow her a kiss because I was too unprepared for this moment to think to give her one before they ushered me away.

I don't even blow the kiss right. This is the second time I've fucked that one up today.

The waiting area is now completely filled by obnoxiously non-nuclear families. Groups of 6 and 8 waiting on one person. It's touching, I suppose, but I'm jealous on behalf of my mother who only has 2 to represent her.

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