The View from the Waiting Room

phcc_waiting_roomOkay, once again I disappeared from cyberspace! Perhaps you wondered what happened. Last week I headed to the Houston area to be present for my mom’s surgery. (If you’re wondering why she needed surgery, click here. I avoided taking photos for the sake of privacy.)

Last Tuesday, bright and early, my dad, my older brother, and I headed with Mom to Memorial Hermann Hospital for the procedure, which took place in a surgical center on that medical campus. Yes that’s right. A surgical center. (Have you noticed that lately more and more procedures are done outpatient than in? I certainly have.)

Mom squeezed my hand as the nurse called her name, as if I were the one in need of reassurance. (She was right.) As she followed the nurse to get ready for the procedure, she seemed calm—totally ready to get the thing over with.

After Mom was prepped, her surgeon came out to the waiting area to talk to us about the procedure. I liked her immediately. Her warm, compassionate nature makes liking her easy. After looking her up on Google, I learned the inspiration for that compassion. When she was 13, her mom died of breast cancer. That gave her the impetus to pursue not just medicine, but breast cancer as a specialty. In fact, she’s one of the first surgeons in Houston to make breast cancer a specialty.

While we waited, we knocked back cup after cup of hot apple cider (my older brother drank that, since he gave up coffee) and coffee (Dad and I) thanks to the Keurig in the waiting room. Since I seemed to know what I was doing with the Keurig, I had to help others who were a little mystified by cup sizes.


While my dad dealt with paperwork, my brother and I slipped easily into a conversation with a man who waited for his mom’s surgery. That’s what happens in waiting rooms. You meet other people who would rather talk than sit there anxiously twiddling their thumbs.

Two hours later, out came the surgeon again with good news: the procedure went well. The tumor was a bit larger than she’d anticipated, which meant Mom had to have a drainage tube for a few days to prevent swelling. It came with a clear plastic grenade-shaped container that would have to be monitored and emptied every few hours.

When we took Mom home, monitoring and emptying that container were my tasks. But it was a privilege to do even that for the woman who did much more than that while raising me.

Having surgery was not the kind of birthday celebration I could have wished for Mom. But the procedure at least ensured that she would have more birthdays. After she heals up, she’ll undergo radiation to make those birthdays even more possible.

Watching Mom deal with cancer reminded me of the fragility of life. And soon after I returned home and the news broke about the terrorist attacks in Paris, I was reminded of that even more.

Cancer and acts of terror can cause us to push the panic button. But instead of giving in to helplessness and hopelessness, we can do what we need to do. Pray and take care of the people around us.


Waiting room from Cup of coffee from Pray for Paris image from

43 thoughts on “The View from the Waiting Room

  1. By a curious serendipity, part of my latest post mirrors yours, Linda: a hospital appointment with a loved one, the terrorist attack, how we can feel hopeless.
    That surgeon’s story is inspirational. Hope your Mom recovers well.

    • Thank you, Professor. Mom appreciates that as do I.
      I don’t own a Keurig, but I know people who have them. We used to have them at my grad school. I favor cheaper coffeemakers. 🙂

  2. The love and the strength of your family comes through, L. Marie, and that in so many different ways, you take care of each. What we all need to do. This is such a touching post along with a reminder of how fragile life is. It is good to hear that you mom is doing well and that she has such a good doctor, who sounds like she treats the whole patient. Blessings and prayers coming your way.

  3. I’m so glad to hear all went well for your Mom, and I too hope she has many more birthdays to look forward to. And I hope and pray that someday we’ll have peace around the world.

  4. So glad the surgery went well for your mother. Looks like she was in good hands, both on the healthcare side and the family side. I was in your shoes twice the past fifteen months after my mother suffered a severe surgical complication. I remember sitting in the waiting room with my step-dad so clearly–like it was yesterday. I guess worry does that to us. But she’s doing much better now, and like you, I cherish our good fortune having her in our lives longer.

  5. Lovely post, L Marie, and I’m so glad to hear your mother’s surgery went well. It’s good when you find a doctor who gives you confidence. Hoping her recovery is smooth and fast.

    • Thank you, FF!!! And that was indeed the issue. Mom likes her new surgeon. She had a horrible time before, which makes me think this is the reason the cancer returned.
      I hope to return to my regular blog reading. Today I’ve been having horrible computer issues. 😦

  6. I’m glad your mom’s surgery went well, Linda. Thanks for bringing us along. Your ending to the post was perfect: “instead of giving in to helplessness and hopelessness, we can do what we need to do. Pray and take care of the people around us.”

  7. I’m glad that your mum’s surgery was successful. Wishing her a speedy and complete recovery.
    She is blessed to have her family around. Yes we can pray and take care of those around us.

  8. I like what you relate with the feelings you had along in the waiting room, during thr durgry aand after
    And more you faced the events of Paris where friend live. I wish you courage and a good recovery for your mother
    In friendship

  9. Your mom’s surgeon and I have something in common. Hug her for me, if you see her for follow-up.

    Isn’t it great with the outpatient thing? So many surgeries are so much quicker, easier, and less damaging than they were before.

    Praying. 🙂

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