About five years ago our family was in the middle of a nine and a half month, travel-around-the-world trip. While traveling, we rarely stayed in one place more than three or four days. During our limited time in a new city, we’d learn the transit system, where to find the best chocolate éclairs, and the ideal sock-hanging scenario in our hotel bathroom.
Clay’s dad came up with the perfect phrase to describe what generally happened: live, learn and leave. What he meant by that was that we’d live a few days in a new place, and by the time we learned what we needed to know, we’d leave.
Today we took Rebeka to Dell for a cast change in the operating room. While we weren’t sure exactly what to expect this time, painful memories from our last visit still lingered, there are certain things we’ve learned. We’ve learned that giving Rebeka some “sleepy medicine” before she gets wheeled back makes the rest of the anesthesia process a snap. She’s learned how to swish and spit and wipe her tongue with a paper towel to get said “sleepy medicine” taste out of her mouth. We’ve learned to bring “Georgie” and “Baby” for company. We’ve learned to be sure and pack her pink headphones for the recovery room wake-up, as movies are an excellent distraction.
But nothing prepared us for what her doctor had to say once he came out of the operating room. He said, “we’re done.” As in, we’re done with operating room cast changes. Never again. We were giddy, and so was he. We thought we had at least one, maybe two more OR visits in our future. We went back to find Rebeka still sleeping in the recovery room, and when she awoke, wonder of wonders, she was fine. Just a “little bit” of pain. A tiny swallow of medicine and we were on our way out the door. After months of operating room cast changes we’d finally found the perfect combination of anesthesia/pain blocks/medication . . . and then it was time to leave. Were we a little sad?
Well . . . we aren’t sad about no more painful cast changes, but we will miss all the sweet nurses and doctors and anesthesiologists we’ve come to love and admire. There were many, many people who came to know Rebeka by name, from the person who checked us in at the front desk to the nurse who checked us out when it was all over, and everyone in between. Still, we are excited. As we gathered up our stuff to leave, Clay decided to give his hands one more squirt of antibacterial foam. Containers are located on every doorframe. I hear Rebeka say, “Gah!” and look over to see her finely misted with foam, her hair, her face, and her wheelchair. Clay insists it was an accident. And so we left laughing, just as we arrived back in November, on Rebeka’s first OR cast change, laughing. On that morning we were all feeling a little nervous and scared. When Clay unexpectedly grabbed Rebeka’s tiny baby doll and sat on her, we were surprised and a little horrified but definitely laughing.
We’ve lived. We’ve learned. And now we leave. We’ll be back at Dell, but not the OR. We’ll be back for a brace for Rebeka’s right leg, back for PT, but we’re definitely on the downhill slide. We have several more months before it’s time for Rebeka to return home, we’re thinking June or July. It’s hard to think about the leaving part, so for now, we’ll just enjoy the living and the learning.