The Favorite Part of My Day as a Volunteer

Filed in Living by on December 21, 2013 0 Comments

Hoping for the bestI volunteer at the local hospital in the Same Day Surgery department. Same day surgery, or “outpatient surgery” as it is also referred to, is simply surgery that does not require an overnight hospital stay. You come in, we knock you out with an anesthetic, we operate, you recover, and back home you go! Simple, right?

In fact, day surgery can be quite difficult. Most people associate it with cataract removal, which actually is a fairly simple and pain-free form of eye surgery, especially as a result of recent improvements in surgical technologies. But as hospitals and insurance companies try to save money by limiting overnight stays, more and more complicated surgeries are being performed on an outpatient basis. Facelifts, gastric bypass, low back surgery, and knee and hip replacements are now routinely done as day surgery. When you awake from the anesthesia after one of these procedures, you are in a lot of pain and pretty darn sick. I saw on the schedule one day that a patient was coming in for a double mastectomy with reconstruction! I couldn’t believe that this woman was going to be sent home after that operation. It’s a little scary and sad.

So one thing I learn in Same Day Surgery is that I’m very fortunate to be healthy. The people coming in for surgery are scared and often in pain. When they leave, they are often still in pain and with a significant recovery period ahead of them. Also, some of them have chronic conditions that will continue to plague them, or they have something awful to worry about like the results of a biopsy on a possibly cancerous tumor. In other words, I am very grateful to be “healthy, carefree me.”

There is something else that I observe in Day Surgery that is not sad, but rather, wonderful and heartwarming, and it is the best part of my day. My duties include bringing family back to see the patient after they are out of surgery and have recovered enough to have visitors. Quite often, this family member is the spouse.

This can be a wonderful thing to experience. As I greet the spouse to bring him or her back to their loved one’s room, they are usually quite relieved that their mate is done with the ordeal of surgery and very anxious to see and comfort them. When I enter the patient’s room, and this is the best part, I focus on their initial emotions at the prospect of seeing their loved one after what they have just been through. The expression on their face is a fascinating combination of exhaustion, distress, neediness, longing, and craving for love. It is so sweet! And when their mate enters the room and first sees them, their emotions are those of concern, compassion, tenderness, support, and providing love. I often linger, just for a moment, to witness the heartfelt hug, kiss, and expressions of devotion and affection between them.

This is the best part of my day in Day Surgery.

I often think that when people cheat on their spouse, it is because they think they are invincible. Why not have a little fun on the side, or possibly even “trade up” to a newer model? This thinking and behavior results from a fundamental misunderstanding of the vagaries of life. You will be that person in the surgical bed some day, and you will want your spouse, not anybody else, rounding the corner into your room to provide solace and comfort, I can guarantee you that.

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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