I was certain I was hearing giggling. My eyes were closed and seemed heavy and impossible to open. My mind was fuzzy and no matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to focus and figure out what was going on.
There it was again, giggling...female sounds of giggling mixed with male guffaws.
“Hello, honey, how are you feeling?”
Was that my husband’s voice? I pushed my eyes open and there he was, standing at the side of my bed. He reached his right hand out and brushed the hair back off the front of my face.
“How are you feeling?” he repeated.
“I hurt. Is it over?”
“Yes, actually you’ve been in recovery for an hour now. It went well.”
I felt myself losing my hold on reality as I drifted back to an anesthesia induced sleep, but as I did, I reached out my hand to clasp his and feebly said, “I’m so glad.”
There was sound and movement at the entrance door to my hospital room. I slowly turned my head to the left and in came our friends and co-workers. They both came right to the left side of my bed. Sandra asked, “Are you feeling better?”
“I think so.” It was certainly not the same intense pain as before the surgery. It felt more like discomfort and tension in the previous location where the pain was.
I could hear them visiting, my husband Brad, and our friends, Todd and Sandra. As I drifted between sleep and awareness, I heard them giggle. I forced myself to focus on their conversation.
“It was crazy. Who would have thought she could wake up speaking another language,” was what I heard from my husband.
“Yes, not only that, but even her accent was perfect,” stated Sandra.
Todd joined in, “Maybe she’s been keeping it a secret from us, that she knew how to speak Spanish.”
“Brad,” I asked, “what are you talking about?”
“Oh Linda, it is so funny. You won’t believe it. When you first started to wake up and come out of the anesthesia, you were speaking perfect, flawless, fluent Spanish,” said my husband.
“What? You are saying I was speaking flawless Spanish?”
My husband, his voice excited stated, “ You were asking if the surgery was over. Then you asked if it went well. Next thing you did was to tell the nurses you hurt and you needed some pain medicine. All of it was spoken in Spanish. It was hysterical.”
Now it all came clearly into focus. I had entered the Mexican hospital earlier that day to have my gall bladder removed. While I was confident about the medical care I would receive and really liked my doctor, I was a bit insecure about the language barrier. I did not speak Spanish. I had expressed my fears to my friend, Sandra, who was a Mexican National and who spoke fluent Spanish. She said, “I’ll be there by your side. If you need me to communicate for you, I will be there.”
In thinking back over the earlier events of the day, I remembered the fear that overwhelmed me as they transported me down the hall to the operating room. Not about the surgery. My fear was centered on my inability to speak the language of the medical people caring for me. Sandra would not be in the operating room.
I remembered my wild thoughts as I saw the young looking people enter the operating room. The sounds of silver clanging as surgical instruments were opened and laid out was most succinct in my sound memory. One of the very young looking men came over to me and spoke something in Spanish, as he reached up and moved a lamp, hanging from the ceiling, to a location right over my head. I didn’t know what he said. I didn’t know how to respond.
Within seconds, he had placed the anesthesia mask over my face. In those few seconds before I was out, I prayed in desperation, “Oh God, did I make a mistake planning on having this surgery in Mexico? I can’t speak this language. Please God, take care of me…”
Obviously He had!
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