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A Shocking Surprise

June 21,2021

The day started out as it usually does and although the newspaper had been soaked through because of being single-bagged despite pouring rain all night, I read it online and it was fine. I had my coffee, Neal Schon station on Pandora, dogs fed and medicated, made some calls, brushed my teeth and got ready for my pre-op CT scan in preparation for my knee replacement surgery scheduled in two weeks. Run-on sentence much?

Folly Beach Sunrise
Folly Beach Sunrise

I had to go to Roper Hospital Downtown for my appointment. Even though Roper St. Francis Hospital is practically right in my neighborhood, it seems as if none of the procedures I need are available to me there. Well, except for physical therapy. Thank goodness.

The UPS store on Savannah Highway was the first of two stops I needed to make before I got to the hospital. Lightning had fried my router/modem ten days before and it took multiple phone calls to ATT before a nice customer service person finally realized I would need an actual technician to come to my house. He got me up and running again, but I had to send the old router back from the UPS store. Fortunately, ATT provided the shipping cost.

I don't think I realized I had become nervous until I was in my car and headed up the highway. Anxious, maybe? I left in plenty of time to make my stops and get to the edge of downtown, find parking in the garage, and find where I needed to go inside the hospital, yet this anxiety gripped me.

"Good morning," I said to the clerk at the UPS shop.

"Good morning," she replied, "how are you today?"

An innocent, if rote greeting. Yet I thought about the answer too long for a simple, fine, thank you.

"I, I' m not sure. I think I'm nervous about something, but I don't know what it is. I have a doctor appointment downtown, but it's nothing to be nervous about." I shrugged and laughed it off with, "Must've had too much coffee," even though I knew I hadn't. I took my receipt and left.

Of course, there was a delay at the veterinarian's office where I had to stop to pick up dog supplies. I knew there would be, even though I had called first thing in the morning with my list and told them when I'd be by. But none of it was ready when I got there. Fortunately, it was an easy order to put together, but it took longer than it should have and I was acutely aware of the fact. The anxiety built.

I merged onto Highway 17 from Folly Road Blvd. thinking of the Lockwood exit which was the way to Jeff's work, only instead of turning left onto Lockwood, I'd be going straight on to Bee Street and into the medical community. My route would take me passed the VA Hospital, MUSC's Wellness Center and Ashley River Tower across Courtney Drive to Ehrhardt Street, a little throughway leading into Roper's Doughty Street parking garage. It's a route with which I'm all too acquainted given the nearly eighteen years of trips made there to support various family members.

Waiting at the Lockwood traffic signal, it hit me. This was the first time I'd been back there since the day Jeff passed away. Emotion hollowed my gut as it rose to tighten my chest and sting my nose. I was truly shocked. It had never crossed my mind that I would have this reaction. I guess my nerves had been trying to prepare me, but the message was unclear.

And so I cried. Wiping away fat tears from my cheeks as the light turned green, I made it to my destination. The hallways of Roper Hospital reconnected themselves in my brain as if it had been only yesterday since my last visit. I signed and dated papers and waited to be registered. It didn't take too long to be called and I was fortunate. The woman tasked with my registration was totally understanding of my grief, and kind. And then she began telling me about her trip to Las Vegas and she made me laugh. As I left her office, I thanked her.

All in all, the experience fairly ruined my day, but I'm glad happened. It was an unexpected expenditure of grief, but those are sometimes the most cathartic, aren't they. And now, among the birthdays, anniversaries, and all the other "firsts," I've had this one. My pre-surgery schedule will take me back to Roper Hospital Downtown at least two more times, not to mention the surgery itself. I can't know what my reactions will be when those dates come, but I will soldier through just as I have done thus far.


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