In June of 2012, Mark had surgery to blast some horrible kidney stones. The surgery was done at Kingston General Hospital so, when his cancer surgery was scheduled, we were familiar with the pre-surgery drill. On surgery day, we knew exactly where to go and what to do.
The weekend leading up to his surgery was horrible. We were beyond stressed out, worried about the actual surgery (possible complications include death, no fun), worried about what they may find once they did the operation. The tension in the house was brutal. Neither of us slept well the night before he was due to go under the knife. When we arrived at the KGH and checked in, I sent out this little update:
Update 1 - mid-morning
We are at KGH - arrived for 10 am, suspect Mark will go in at noon but don't know for sure. Much busier today than when we were here for Kidney surgery. I think this is cancer and heart surgery day, lots of quite young adults. Lots of worried faces.
Will let you know when we are at the next stage of this trip / when he actually goes in to the OR.
As I was typing that message, Mark was putting on his compression socks and the nurse was putting an IV into his arm. His bum had just hit the gurney when we found out that he was bumped for the day. There had been a couple of bad accidents over the weekend and a bed shortage resulted. Everyone in the admitting area was surprised and very sweet and apologetic but we were UP-SET. Mark got dressed and we left. I remember that I was just barely holding it together. We walked outside and I called a taxi to take us home. While we were waiting for the cab, we silently stood in the sunshine. We were both in shock. All of that stress and grief over the weekend, not to mention the lack of sleep, had us both in a haze.
During the summer months, a small number of homeless people hang out, in the smoking area outside of the KGH main entrance. I was not aware of this but cab-driver Mark pointed it out to me. These folks had what he called “ a homeless tan” which, I guess, you get when you have to spend most of your days outside. I think that it must be easier to ask for food or cigarettes by the hospital entrance because of the volume of folks coming and going all day.
While we stood in the sunshine, trying to absorb what had just happened, one of these men approached us, made a comment about Mark’s hair (he has long hair and wears it in a single braid down his back). I think that the man thought Mark was of aboriginal descent because of the braid. He started to make a comment to Mark about his hair and the spirits or something and Mark turned to him and said, “No. Walk away please.” The guy didn’t stop; he continued to approach us, commenting on Mark’s hair, and trying to offer us “blessings.” I lost it. I started to cry. I got really upset and asked the man to leave us alone. He wouldn’t go, he kept insisting that he wasn’t bothering us. He was bothering us though. In his defense, he had no idea how fragile we were and probably couldn’t fathom that anyone wouldn’t want to be blessed by his god. When he wouldn’t leave, I yelled at him this time. I asked him to “fuck off and leave us alone.” It was not my proudest moment and it didn’t help that he started yelling back at me about how his god hates swearing and that I would probably burn in “hell.” Not threats that really mean anything to me but I didn’t need to be in a shouting match with a stranger all the same. Fortunately, by this time, the cab was pulling up and we were home a few minutes later.
Once we arrived at the house, we both calmed down. I called his surgeon’s office and the amazing EA there was able to get us a spot in surgery for the following day.
Something about having the surgery cancelled and then this argument with the homeless man broke the tension we’d both been feeling. I remember that we both slept like logs that night and felt better prepared to deal with whatever would happen in the days ahead.