Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hope, Help, and Healing,
at Memorial Hermann Hospital
Friday, May 31, 2013

This lovely stone was given to me over the weekend by the mother of Stephen's girlfriend.  We had never met, but Omeda and her daughter Kristina have been praying for me since the beginning of my hearing loss.  The stone alone is absolutely beautiful!  The added word HOPE kind of sums up this path that I am traveling. 

From the beginning, I have believed that God has had a plan to use my hearing loss for His glory.  In our family, when we have faced difficult situations, we have often turned to the verse in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  .  In all of those situations, God has been faithful and brought us through with a deeper love for Him and for each other.  The gift of this small stone, was just another confirmation to me that God has a great future ahead for me. 

Monday evening, after spending the day with Stephen and Kristina, Ron and I headed to Houston.  Just a little side note: Do you know that once you leave Dallas, heading to Houston, there is no where to eat?  By the time we got to Madisonville, Conroe, and the towns closer to Houston, where there were some places, most were already closed.  Just thought I would throw that in here.  We arrived at our destination at 10:30 without having eaten, but we were so exhausted, we didn't care and went right to sleep.

We have some wonderful friends in Houston that we met through our son, Stephen.  Their son and Stephen were close friends while students at Texas A&M University in College Station.  This couple has showered us with the most generous hospitality for several years - far beyond what we could ever imagine.  They were out of town, but left "our" guest room in their home (far better than any 5-star hotel) ready for our visit.  (There was plenty of food in the house, but we truly were too tired to eat.)

Tuesday morning, we headed to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center.  Ron had received a call Friday telling him where to park and how to find the office we needed for the registration and lab tests.  The parking garage is across the street from the hospital and there is a sky way connecting the second floors of the buildings.  The area felt like the crossroads of the world and a cross section of society as we looked into the faces of those we passed in the halls and elevators.  Illnesses and accidents (and hearing loss) remove any barriers between people; everyone is there to seek answers and get help.  There were tiny babies and very elderly patients, side by side, waiting and hoping for good news.

We found the hospital to be well organized and the workers to be very efficient.  Each one we met was pleasant, helpful, and cheerful.  At one point after our visit we were going down a hallway discussing where we wanted to go and a gentleman stopped us to see if we needed help or directions.  Everyone treated us in a similar manner.

Never knowing how long it will take for us to find where we are going, we leave very early and normally arrive well before our appointment and we were true to form that morning, arriving about an hour ahead of time, but we each had our Kindles and were ready to sit and read the hour away.  Ron checked in at the desk in the Anesthesia Clinic as we had been directed.  The kind lady pointed to the waiting room for that area and told us to take our seats.  It was not more than about 5 minutes before we were called to a cubicle for our actual "registration".  A lady named Jennifer needed my insurance cards, identification, address, phone number, contact person in case of an emergency, etc.  She quickly filled in her forms, had me sign an assortment of forms, and asked us to return to the waiting room with a stack of copies of the forms I had signed.  In about 5 more minutes we were greeted by a nurse named Maria (with a heavy European accent) and she led us to what I think is the pre-operative area for day surgery.  Maria had a list of questions and mainly focused on height, weight (she gave me a dirty look), allergies to medications, and she copied all my little cards that I carry with my drug allergies listed, medications I am taking, and food allergies.  She said she wasn't worried about the foods (I guess that means they won't feed me) but since I am allergic to shrimp, that is important along with the medication allergies (a shrimp allergy can cause problems with an iodine dye test). 

Soon Maria was replaced with Kathy, a lady about my age with very short red hair and thousands of freckles.  She was a delight with a ready smile.  She wanted to know about any heart or breathing problems and some family history of health issues.  She debated (with herself) if new lab work was necessary since she had copies of my recent tests, and eventually finished her questions and was soon replaced with the jewel of the bunch, Dr. Kristine Luong. 

Dr. Luong just couldn't talk without a smile spreading from one side of her face to the other.  She is an anesthesiologist and although on that day she was doing paper work, she said in June she would be administering anesthesia, so she may be the one who will "put me to sleep".  That would be fine except I would hate to sleep through an opportunity to visit more with her.  We quickly began a comfortable time with her going over (again) all my drug allergies  (Maria had missed copying that page).She asked about past surgeries and thankfully she already had a list (probably from my doctor's office).  She covered family medical histories, and any concerns I might have.

As Dr. Luong went through her questions covering a wide variety of subjects, she asked how many pregnancies I'd had.  I told her that I had four live births and had miscarried a child in the middle of the four, so it had been five pregnancies.  Then I told her that even though she had not asked, I had seven wonderful grandchildren and that sadly I had left the pictures in the car.  She got quiet a laugh out of that.  As we went on down her list, she asked how active I am.  I told her that since the hearing loss I am not as active as before since I am not comfortable walking alone or even going to the gym alone, but that I work full-time, mow my yard, and do a variety of other things.  Then I told her I was not nearly as active as the mother of my seven grandchildren.  Her eyes got big and she said, "You mean all seven are in one family?"  I told her yes, and she sputtered out, "And you aren't even Catholic."  We all laughed and I told her that we were all Baptist.  She was in awe and asked the age range of the kids.

Dr. Luong left for a while after saying that they had decided I didn't need to have the EKG done, but they would do the blood work again since it had been almost 2 months since I had the other work done.  I said that was fine and she asked if I had good veins.  I told her I had always thought so until the last lab work (the work she had in her file) but that I thought it was the lab technician and not my veins that created the problem.  I also mentioned that I bruise easily.  She said the lab people were excellent at their hospital and she was sure that they wouldn't have a problem.  Well, that really put the pressure on Maria who had arrived back to join us to draw the blood.  Maria could not get a vein to cooperate and in the end had to take the blood from my wrist, but did so with a very light touch and no bruising!

Now it was again Dr. Luong's turn to do some follow up.  She had another assortment of questions more directly related to the anesthesia and wanted to know how far I could bend my neck back plus a few more issues.  I had mentioned to her early in our discussion that there is a big ridge in the roof of my mouth and that in a previous surgery many years ago, that had been scraped badly when a tube was put down my throat.  She wanted to see it and made notes about it in my file which was rapidly growing. 

She went over what I needed to do to be ready for the surgery (no eating after midnight, no aspirin, Advil, fish oil, or Vitamin E, starting a week before surgery, etc.) and to tell us to use the valet parking when we arrive (they will take care of the charges on that) and gave a long list of those kind of instructions.  I had noticed  the first time she came in that she was wearing a beautiful ring that I thought might be an engagement ring.  Well, she mentioned her fiance at one point and we got to talking about her ring and the fact that she had picked it out herself.  I told her I had selected mine also and as we compared notes, we found both guys were engineers who just gave us a price range and told us to do the selecting.  We had a good laugh over that, but I should have pointed out to her that my wedding ring was added to my engagement ring when we married 48 years ago next week and that I hope her engineer makes her as happy as mine has made me.  I do hope she is the one who takes care of the anesthesia for my surgery - even if we won't get to visit much.

Time was spent with her describing the type of anesthetics that are used these days (my last surgery was 20+ years ago) and the time it would take for me to wake up after the procedure.  Dr. Chang has said the surgery will take about 2 hours and Dr. Luong says recovery can take anywhere from 30 minutes to about an hour and a half. 

Never have I had such thorough a work-up before surgery.  I was impressed.  Our appointment had been for 10:30, but they started about 9:40 and it was noon before we had finished.  Very little time was spent waiting; almost all of it was in answering questions and getting instructions.  We left that office and Ron went back to the desk where we had checked in to see if they had the information on what we would owe for the hospital portion of the bill.  In just a couple of minutes he was sent to a cubicle where they told him my Medicare and supplemental would cover everything and that we would not owe them any money.  Praise God! 

Our one concern at the hospital had to do with this sign over the door to a lovely coffee shop in the building with the parking garage.  You would think that someone would have thought that maybe a sign proclaiming "pain" in the hospital might not be a real good idea.  I have been told that "pain" is French for bread and that the sign is telling all that this is the place for good bread.  Right...  We did go there to get something to drink since I had gotten so thirsty in the office.  Their pastries were very tempting, but I didn't give in.

Before leaving Houston we went to a quilt shop, a plant nursery having an amazing sale, and Chick-fil-A for our lunch.  The ladies at the quilt shop told Ron about another quilt shop in El Campo and we checked it out on our way home.  It will be on my list for another stop; but probably not the one in Houston.  Both shops were nice but the first didn't carry the kinds of things I like to buy.

Our long weekend was wonderful.  The registration at the hospital went well and it is now:
10 days until my surgery!!!



  1. Glad your visit went well with the hospital and doctors. It won't be long now! I'll be praying.

    My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my HOPE is from Him. Psalm 62:5

    (on a side note, have you tried Woody's BBQ in Centerville? There is one on each side of the road but we like the one at the east side best. Great BBQ!)