I remember bits and pieces of what happened the first hour after my thyroid and tumor were removed. It was like an out-of-body experience as the anesthesia began wearing off. I knew what was happening, but had no control. The nurses and doctors that busied all around me were trying to keep me from talking because my vocal nerves had been bumped and bruised during surgery, and they wanted my voice to have every opportunity to return to normal. To appease them, you’d think I would have just kept quiet; instead, I talked (or rather, whispered) incessantly—slurring my words while in a half-baked state. The things I said caused the room to erupt with laughter, and although I knew what I was saying, I couldn’t stop it.
Oh no, y’all! I don’t have my ‘surgery’ panties on.
My nail polish is called Tahitian Sunrise.
All pictures taken of me must be approved by my agent.
The room really lost control when I started reciting 1990’s rap.
The butterfly? Uh-uh, that’s old!
Let me see the Tootsee Roll!
My husband was the first one to be allowed to see me once I was in the ICU. I overheard a nurse telling him how funny I had been and not to be alarmed if I wasn’t quite myself. He walked towards me.
“Hey Baby, you doing okay?” Mr. Right asked with true concern.
To which I replied—while doing my best Janet Jackson impersonation, “No my first name ain’t Baby its Brooke, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.” This is why Mr. Right will sometimes refer to me as Miss Jackson—I apologize to anyone who has witnessed this.
When I was told that the doctor felt it necessary for me to remain in ICU for the night and that Mr. Right and my parents would have to go home, I was devastated. I didn’t want to spend the night alone in the hospital. Who was going to take care of me? That’s when I was introduced to my nurse, Suzy. She was a full figured thirty year old with black hair and beautiful brown skin. She assured my family that I would have her undivided attention until her shift ended at 7am. Little did I know what a godsend she would be.
If I needed morphine, she was there. When my mouth was dry, she fed me ice chips. When I was too weak to continue to walk to the bathroom, she scooped me up in her arms and carried me. And she would address herself in third person—which was surprisingly calming, “You need to relax Mrs. Brooke and let Suzy take care of you. Just rest. You don’t need to worry about anything.” Those words were the sweetest I had ever heard. SHE was going to take care of ME. I couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t the person taking care of everyone else. After all, isn’t that what mothers and wives do? But for this brief moment in time, the caretaker was Suzy and I was forced to rest.
It was 4am and I woke up in excruciating pain and feeling nauseous. I buzzed for help. Suzy came with everything I needed to be comforted. As the pain meds kicked in—still not in my right mind—I whispered, “Oh, Suzy Q baby I love you, Suzy Q.” She lightly laughed, tucked me in tight, and wrapped me in a warmed blanket as I drifted to sleep.
The next morning Mr. Right woke me up when he sat on the bed. “How’d you do last night? Did you miss me?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that no one could have cared for me the way Suzy did, that if I could afford to keep her on payroll to be my own personal caretaker—I would. Instead, I just responded, “I sure did.”