People ask me where I get my story ideas. A lot of them come from observing every day life.
Monday, my wife had minor surgery at the Day Surgery Department of a regional hospital. We were asked to come at 11:00. Surgery was scheduled for 13:00 but did not start until 13:45 (1:45 PM). At 2:45 (The hospital may run on a 24 hour clock, but I run on a 12 hour clock.) the podiatrist appeared to inform me that had gone well. By 3:30, we were on our way home.
We have all seen or heard of “General Hospital” and the other hospital related soap operas, but if there was any of the passionate personal interactions, they were well hidden. All I observed was business.
After checking in at 11:00, my wife disappeared with a nurse. About 15 minutes later, the nurse came with me and I was allowed to sit with my wife as she lay on a gurney waiting her turn in the operating room. I stayed with her until they wheeled her away about 1:30 (excuse me, 13:30). The presurgery room contained cubicles for eight patients, each curtained off to provide a measure of privacy, but the curtains did not block conversations. We heard a lot of conversations between patients and their relatives. We also heard a lot of discussions of doctors and nurses with patients.
The room was charged with enough emotion to be the basis of several plots. Not only were nervous patients and relatives expressing their hopes and fears but compassionate hospital employees were making a point to be sure someone would come for the young man in the cubicle next to us. Everyone else had relatives who would be in the waiting room during surgery. This young, divorced man was alone. He had made arrangements for his girl friend to be called so that she could come for him after surgery. Nevertheless, almost every nurse and doctor who spoke to him, confirmed that arrangements had been made.
Likewise, conversations between nurses, doctors and patients conveyed a strange mixture of fear and confidence. In general, the fears were not openly voiced, but they were there and fueled by all of the consent forms requiring signatures. There were also expressions of confidence. Most doctors were doing their best to instill confidence in patients. Some patients had blind confidence in their doctor. What ever he said was fine with them. Other patients, like my wife, had an educated and rational confidence. My wife was completely confident in the skills of the operating staff, but she was not prepared to yield all discretionary power. Being petite, my wife preferred not to have general anesthesia for a simple tendon repair. She had already discussed the use of a local anesthesia with the podiatrist, but had discuss this with a skeptical anesthesiologist. The podiatrist appeared and confirmed that he was prepared to do an ankle block. That settled it, but I observed the drama of a negotiation in which all parties had to satisfy themselves what would be the best course of action.
In short, there is more non-sexual drama in the operating room setting than all of the passionate scenes of “General Hospital”. Everyone in the room had something at risk, often serious risks. Everyone was striving for something or seeking to avoid something. Had eight writers been in that room, either as patients or as relatives, enough plot material would have been gathered to start a dozen or more books. No wonder I do not run out of material. To starting writers, I would suggest you keep your eyes and ears open.
For those who are interested, the surgery went well. My wife is resting on the couch with her ice bag. A complete recovery is expected, but she will be on crutches for about 3 weeks. Physical therapy will follow, and eventually she will be 100% active.
Hopefully her cook, bottlewasher and chauffeur will hold up to the strain, but such creates more potential material for another story.