George Hates Surgery — Again
For years my main doctor had been bugging me to have a colonoscopy. That’s
where they shove a tv camera up your butt looking for
things that don’t belong there. Like what are they gonna find — those keys
I lost last year — that missing sock??
Hell — like I really wanna get reamed out looking for god knows what. I
get the polyp speech — how polyps can turn into cancer bla bla bla… Colon
cancer is the second leading cause of death in men bla bla bla… No
history of cancer in my family — we’ve been bulletproof for umpteen generations
so do I need really this? The doc says, “Yes”. Two cohorts at work say Yes,
yes. Ok, Ok, Ok…
I see the colon doc and he’s this young guy. Right. Just
the person I want poking around me ol’ butt. One question. How many of
these do u do a day? He smiles — anywhere
from 5 to 15. Man… that is a whole lotta butts!! I
walk outta there playing air guitar wailing the Zeppelin riff from Whole
Lotta Love… Why
not, I’ll probably have the same contorted expression on my face while getting
The date is set. Before the exam, you start by drinking the most god-awful
stuff known to man. U mix it with Coke and it still tastes like crap. Don’t
think I can drink a Coke again due to the taste association with that crap. However
it does the job. This concoction really cleans u out so they can get a good looksee. For
hours you are pooping your insides out — a TOTALLY miserable experience. I
follow all the instructions to the letter ‘cause I sure in hell don’t wanna
go thru this again.
All this internal cleansing gets me thinking about those stories u hear
about people getting coffee enemas. The hip thing to do — feeling clean
from the inside out. So, exactly, how does it work? You bend over and some
guy in a white lab coat shoves a hose up your butt?? Stuff goes squirting
all over like kids having a water hose fight? It’s like thinking my car
will run better if I clean out the muffler. I suspect they’re popular on
trendy LA’s west side. I’m sure a few have been hosed out in Beverly Hills
as well — such LA bullshit!!
Friends tell me I can watch it on a tv monitor as they journey up my colon. Screw that. The
only time I wanna watch anything on tv is if there’s a remote and its in my hand. Anyway,
I show up — they knock me out with something and next thing I know it’s over. Great!! I
didn’t feel a thing. There were several polyps, one
he nailed however the other was too big. That one would require surgery. Hmmm…
Surgery. Outpatient kinda stuff, right? Wrong. I pop into the surgeon’s
office and he tells me this ain’t no Outpatient
procedure. I could be in the hospital for 3–5 days. WHAT?? I’ve never
been in a hospital overnight. Have I just crossed into a new dimension of
aging? This is not good. I hate hospitals — grew up in hospitals due to
me dad being a doc. I didn’t like them then or now. Sure, the first few
visits are fine. They fix you up and out you go. However, eventually and
inevitably there’ll be that one time I walk in… and don’t walk out. This
I get the warning this is major surgery and could die from infection. Great! And,
if the surgery doesn’t get me the polyp could be
cancer. Even better!! This is a total downer. Cancer??? 3–5
nights at a hospital?
This SO sucks. You can’t sleep… hospital people bugging you at all hours. Philippine
nurses going “What you want, why you call me?” Except, what choice
do I have? None. OK. Suck it up and let’s cut
this thing outta me.
11/2/05 7am. Check in time — St Joseph’s hospital Burbank, CA I pass
the Outpatient sign in and head toward Extended Stay. All these nice descriptions
however I know this is going to be a miserable time. I’ve been down this
road before with a hernia surgery.
Put on the butt-revealing gown, lie on gurney and wait to be wheeled in. At
10am they whisk me into the operating room. Its all
a whirl and I gotta hope they all know what they’re
doing. Someone says something about breathing with this mask on and that’s
all she wrote.
The next time I see a clock is in my hospital room. It’s 4pm. Shit… I’m groggy
as all hell and in major pain, like a horse kicked me in the gut or something.
A nurse comes in and tells me the 90-minute surgery went very well. I am
in super-stupor mode and trying hard to listen but most everything goes in
one ear and out the other. 90 minutes?? Seems long? Oh well, glad its over…
Everyone is extra friendly, making sure I am comfortable and if I need anything
at all — press the call button. Man… the difference between Outpatient and Short
Stay is night and day! I did Outpatient for my hernia surgery
and it was nothing like this. This is first class all the way. I am tucked
into my bed. All my fears about hospital staff hissing at me don’t apply.
There’s plenty of burning pain. Like five thousand sit-ups worth of pain and for
some reason I don’t care! It might have something to do with the morphine
drip they got pumped into me at one dose an hour.
to get a new dose every
they stick this
button in my
me to press it.
I can get 10
hits an hour
shit!! I love it…
They got my legs wrapped in this massage thing that constantly works them
so to prevent blood clots. It feels frickin’ great. They’ve tapped into my bladder with
some tube so I don’t even have to worry about taking a piss!
I just lie there, get my legs massaged. Use one hand to press the button
for bonus morphine hits. The other hand has the TV remote. All this while
dozing in and out of sleep
— I am so digging this!! I don’t move for what seems like hours. TV, morphine,
sleep… the phone rings however I don’t have any memory of who all called
or what was said.
And hey, what is it with people calling the minute you get out of surgery? You’re
SO out of it and they sound as if it had been a job interview or something? “How's
it going?” How do you frickin’ think its
going? All I wanna do is suck up morphine and sleep.
Interesting what the mind does with the body so stressed out. Bizarro
dream of taking a contractor’s
license exam and not being prepared to explain my material choices for
an eight unit apartment building. I grab another student’s assignment
to copy his work, which I can’t copy fast enough before making
my oral presentation. Panic!! What to do?? It hits me! I don’t need
to prepare for any stinkin’ oral exam.
This has gotta be a dream — I’ll wake up. My eyes open, and I wake up… Weird.
Where did that come from??
I get up and there is this burning pain like there’s no tomorrow. Still,
I gotta check out my new digs and take a looksee from
my room window.
Nice late afternoon view — mountains, Walt Disney studio, a cemetery... Huh? I
like the mountains and the Disney thing reminds me of Mickey Mouse. Hummm… what
does Mickey Mouse plus hospital equal? The cemetery!!
Great… just what I wanna see from my hospital window, LA’s
celebrity cemetery — Forest Lawn. I always hear 'em advertising on the radio.
Competition for dead people is pretty fierce around here. You wouldn't think
so, with Hollywood being so close. It's all marketing...
They probably got a sales office in the hospital, next to the cafeteria.
Get your morning latte then pick out a plot on your way to see
Uncle Eddy before he croaks. With all the morphine in me — who cares… As long
as the cemetery remains on the other side of that window — it's all good.
Dr. B pops in, the surgeon extraordinaire who cut me up
and pieced me back together. Says it all went really well and I’m
not a bleeder, nice to know… He got the polyp and it was huge. Got it so
early he sees little chance it was cancer. Even if it was, they took out
so much out he just doesn’t see it as a concern. I
bitch about the pain, which he explains is in part from cutting into muscle. MUSCLE? You
mean my Abs??? I’ve been looking for those abs
for 30 years and he finds them in a matter of seconds???
At some point I overhear a person in my doorway talking to someone in the
hall, “Of course he speaks Armenian!” Oh shit...
aid is Armenian and sees my name. She strolls in and starts yacking away
in the language of my parents
I’m fricken’ drugged to the hilt and just smile
back at her. Finally I admit it, “I don’t speak Armenian”.
The aid looks at me in shock… checks her paperwork and says, “Your name
is Armenian?” I hit the morphine button and go into this long story about
how my parents try teaching me Armenian as a kid except I was confusing it
School teacher requests my
parents speak only English
to me. The
aid ain't follow-
ing and looks confused. I
blurt out — “Born in
born here!!” She gets it...
The next day a physical therapist walks in talking in Armenian. Again
with the Armenian… I just look at him and say “Born in the USA". He smiles,
flips to English and doesn't skip a beat. I oughta hang Bruce's album on
the door. Get two birds with one stone — explain where I was born and what
part of my body got operated on.
When my lunch arrives, there is an Armenian magazine on the serving tray. It’s
in English at least. Always
trying to bring one of the flock into the fold. A nice
thought and something to look at…
Things do seem to be working out — the room is nice, the staff is super
pleasant. Don’t know what I was so worried about. Providence St Joseph in
Burbank, a boutique little hospital and I’m in the
new building which has been opened less than a year. Lotsa
light and glass — neat design. Everything is state of the art and
One of the best features is twice a day at shift change; the new nurse and aid
intro themselves. They write on the board their in-house phone number. SO
if I need anything at all, I call them directly — wherever they are, they
That is in addition to the call button on the TV remote, which rings up
the nurse’s station. Impressive! My nurse’s aid — just the nicest guy, loved
his work and was always there with a smile.
I’m feeling good about the entire exper-ience. I
have the health care coverage; doc sees a need and turns me over to another
doc who sees a problem who turns me over to another doc who takes care of
it. Experts and pros at every turn — I gotta say the system works.
After two days I’m up and moving about. I’m wearing my Spastic Colon T-shirt. It’s
a big hit with the hospital staff. Doctor Bro got it from some drug rep
so he passes it on to me. Bro also tells me I’ll be out in 3 days; afterwards
the hospital starts to loose money.
They’ve been paid a set fee
so any more time dedicated
towards me is outta their
pocket — unless
up with a new diagnoses,
something they can run up the charges
against. The realities of today’s health care system.
Anyway, after three days I’m feeling good to go. Still plenty of pain plus
it’s hard to stand or walk. I can lie around the house as well as here,
so might as well be home. Good-bye to the morphine button, the gold standard
for painkillers and hello to some generic pain killer pill. However I’ll
also have kitties to sooth me as well!
They wheel me out and pack me off in my boss’s car. She volunteers to pick
me up having already made plans to come down and visit.
One look and boss thinks I appear pretty much the way I do on Monday mornings! That’s
encouraging. Hope the recovery at home goes as well…