They say you should never meet your heroes. That inevitably they’ll disappoint you. When the “white knight” falls off the horse, and eventually they all do, you’re left grappling with the reality that though someone may be a hero, at the end of the day, he or she is also a human. A human that’s flawed. I guess there is some truth to that. I’ve had disappointing encounters with people I’ve idolized in the past. And I’m sure I will in the future. I guess to some degree my viewpoint is skewed. Biased. And I’ve wrote many times before that the heroes in my story were just doing their jobs. But isn’t that what they all say? Isn’t that-to some degree-what makes a hero, a hero?
It’s 1 am. I woke up from a dead sleep (thanks to Wade crawling in my bed) with a knot in my throat. All I could think about were the events of the day and all I wanted to do was cry about it. Sad tears. Happy tears. Scared tears. Broken-hearted tears. I haven’t been able to will myself to sit and sob so the knot is still ever-present as I type this out. I figured I wouldn’t go back to sleep until I did. So here I am.
It is downright stupid, really, to be this attached to doctors and nurses. Honestly. Who goes and makes a day out of visiting them every few months? And why do I feel the need to do so as if we are BFF’s? We aren’t. (Again, besides Emily who would be highly pissed at that last statement because we are, in fact, good friends). Why do I make the 40-minute drive and fight Nashville traffic for 30-minute encounters with surgeons and nurses and CRNAs running from one case to the next? Making time in between for hugs and smiles and “It’s so good to see you”?
Maybe it’s because part of my heart will always belong to the people in the room on that cold Friday night. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of what life looks like “without them”. Maybe its textbook trauma bonding. Maybe they mutter “bless her heart” when I leave and feel sorry for the connection I have, that they don’t. Or maybe the connection is mutual across the board-and deep and real-and it’s hard for them when I leave, too. Maybe it’s hard for them to know that they can’t protect me and Banks outside of a hospital. Or that they can’t “fix” things when my life gets hard and heavy. Maybe the thought of me as being just another patient, they may or may not see again, breaks their heart a little, too.
I went to Midtown today to see my surgeon, specifically. She is moving soon. She told me one night on the phone during rehearsals for “Into the Woods”. I was backstage, with gobs of makeup plastered to my face and a heavy wig. I knew when she said ‘I’ve been meaning to call you” that she was leaving Nashville. And as the orchestra tuned up and I quickly told her I had to go, tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t make them stop. My mother-in-law had just been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer, and “my” surgeon was leaving. I made it through my final scenes and went straight to the bathroom when I got offstage where I sobbed. When I exited, I saw Francesca finishing up her hair for Act II. Her eyes met my freshly bloodshot eyes and she hugged me tightly and prayed. She didn’t know anything going on at the time. But I do think God strategically placed her there that night.
I haven’t cried anymore over it. And when I saw Dr. Nick today, I felt nothing but excitement and joy. Banks ran up to her with his arms up for her to hold him and I couldn’t help but think that somewhere deep in his little soul, he knew who she was. I hugged her maybe 6 times, and lingered far too long. But she was kind-as usual-and told me “I’ll never forget that Friday night”. I believed her. And I’m going to miss her “presence” here terribly.
We saw Chrissy, as usual. She always makes me smile. And we finally met Ryan-the CRNA who took such tender care of me during everything. I always imagined that I’d cry when I met him-and again, I was too excited-but I am tuned up now thinking about him and how sweet it was to see him. Jon wasn’t at the hospital when I went into labor. He was trying to make his way down to the hospital-in the sleet-but ultimately I was “alone” before I went into surgery. I wasn’t afraid though. And I think that had a lot to do with Ryan. I remember how kind his eyes were peeking over his mask as he prepped me for surgery and met me again in the OR. I remember his voice telling me to take deep breaths before I went to sleep in surgery and he sounded the same today. He looked the same. And I was relieved I didn’t dream him up. He came to my room to see me once I was out of ICU-Jon had gone to get a cup of coffee-and I was for sure I hallucinated our conversation but seeing him in person made me feel validated. He administered my transfusions; Dr. Scott saying he was largely in part why I was alive. He’s who told me I was a “miracle girl”. We’ve been friends for two years now on social media, but it was so good to see him in person today. And to watch him with Banks. He asked about Jon and the kids and life and we tried to have a long conversation in less than 10 minutes but seeing him felt like seeing an old friend. Knowing I probably won’t again, broke my heart a little.
It’s hard to explain that. How someone you don’t really even “know” could break your heart. How a surgeon moving can make you panic a little that they aren’t close-even when there is nothing wrong with you medically. And trauma bonds are weird and hard to sort through. Peggy, my counselor, has helped me make sense of them with each person involved in that night that I remember and connected with, and Jon has been so sweet and steady in allowing me space and love as I process all of the weird emotions that come along with that. Emily too. She feels extra safe to process with because she was involved and knows all of the people, without being directly in the room that night so it’s easy to call her and say “why am I a lunatic?”.
I’m always afraid I’m “too much”. I feel things too deeply. I overestimate my relationships with these people. That they think I’m nuts. But regardless, I’ll always feel deeply connected to my team from January 2021. All of them. But especially, those “in the room” that night. Especially those that kept my heart beating, like Ryan. And those that ultimately kept me here-and fought so hard for me-like Dr. Nick. My sweet friend Kaitlin texted me this afternoon and said “how did it go today??”. I texted her back and said “I felt like it was a day of closure but also, no closed chapters”.
My room was empty today. The bed was made. And I didn’t walk in. It felt like a sacred space no longer meant for me but for someone else. I didn’t feel like I “belonged” there like I once did when I first left the hospital. But you should know, I went to the hospital today thinking I was closing a chapter of my life. Closing the door on this terrible, wonderful thing that happened where I experienced heaven and earth colliding in a very literal sense. I even told myself “I probably won’t go down here anymore after today-with Dr. Nick not here, there’s really no point.” And I don’t think I’ll “visit” quite so much. I probably won’t make special trips with Banks and wait in hallways for surgeries to end for quick hellos and hugs. But as much as I wish I could just “move on” from that whole experience, I don’t think the percreta was just another chapter. I don’t think these people are just characters in a book where I can turn the page. I don’t think I’ll ever be over it. And that’s a heavy gift-but boy is it a sweet one.