George Hates Surgery

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George Hates Surgery — Again
11/8/05

This sucks....

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 reamed out.

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 sucks!!

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. 

HOWEVER to get a new dose every SIX minutes, they stick this button in my hand telling me to press it. 

I can get 10 hits an hour on manual!  No 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??

Finally, 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... 

The 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 with English.

School teacher requests my parents speak only English to me.  The aid ain't follow- ing and looks confused.  I blurt out — “Born in this country.”   “Oh, you were 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 very new.

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 respond. 

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.  

Overall 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 they come 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…

George 

 

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