Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Story of a Surgery - Part Four"

My hospital room – a private one – was surprisingly small. A few months earlier, we had visited a friend who’d had major back surgery at the same hospital, and his hospital room was huge. I don't get it. That guy couldn’t even walk!

Not only that, but on our last day, we were informed that every hospital room was supposed to include two chairs. My room only had one.

Class up, Earl-o. Millions of people have no health care whatsoever. And you’re whining about the size of your room and a shortage of chairs?

You’re right, Italics Man.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

I’m sorry. I won’t complain anymore.

Wait, one more thing.

They always brought the meals late. One day, my lunch wasn’t delivered till almost two. Then, as I was waiting for my butternut squash soup to cool, an orderly arrived to take me to another part of the hospital for x-rays. When I was returned to my room, I discovered – Are you ahead of me here? –

My lunch had been taken away!

Okay. Now I’m done complaining.

All right, not quite. Although I felt miraculously wonderful for a guy who’d recently had robots poking around his chest cavity, there was one exception to my total wellbeing. As a result of the procedure, my back (just west of my right shoulder blade) was giving me a lot of trouble. I had like a really crampy knot there that wouldn’t go away. I was told I’d immediately feel better once my chest tubes were removed, but it was unclear exactly when that would be. In the meantime


And “Double ‘Ow!’” when I coughed, sneezed or moved.

As I lay there, wincing in mid-to-low-upper-range-level discomfort, I was hardly bereft of hospital-dispatched companionship. A specialist came by from Occupational Therapy. A specialist dropped in from Physical Therapy. A Nutritional Therapist showed up, armed with an Internet critique of my dietary supplements. I even got a visit from “Buddy”, a volunteer dog, who, with his owner, went room-to-room and, on request, would climb onto your bed sit in your lap. (Just “Buddy”, not the owner.) I enjoyed “Buddy’s” visit, though I’m a little iffy on the hygienic implications.

The one specialist that didn’t visit?

A Massage Therapist.

The only one I wanted. The only one they didn’t provide.

Something about massages messing with your blood pressure. My blood pressure comfortably low, I would gladly have risked a few points for a relaxing massage. Anything that would get my back to unspasm and be my friend. It was really bothering me.

And then, they appeared.

Three attractive, young women, materializing out of nowhere like in Monty Python’s, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” I’d have written them off as byproducts of over-medication, but, fortunately, Anna was there with me, and she saw them too.

They called themselves “The Pain Team.” They actually did. Just like The Lone Ranger, “The Pain Team” had gotten wind of my situation and ridden to the rescue. Except instead of a guy with a mask and an Indian companion, it was two Latinas and an Asian woman wearing lab coats.

The “Team” listened to my complaints, and proposed a range of solutions. Higher dosages of my pain medication. Different pain medication. Pain medicine combinations, delivered in both pill form and I.V. drip. They also offered acupuncture, though the suggestion was offered rather tentatively. In my case, this was entirely unnecessary. When it comes to alleviating pain, I am blessedly free of cultural prejudice.

When I asked the team members if they were doctors, they informed me that they were not, mentioning instead another medical designation likely to swell their families’ bosoms with marginally less pride. Their answer triggered some concern. Not because they weren’t doctors, but because I was afraid the real doctors wouldn’t listen to them.

“Silly women, thinking they can alleviate this man’s pain. Why…(derisively chuckling, Steve Martin-style)… they’re not even doctors!

It turned out, my concerns were – as they invariably are – misguided.

The doctors totally listened. My pain regimen was adjusted, and my ouchy back immediately improved. Before my surgery, I had thought of this line: “I’ll know I’m receiving enough pain medicine when the guy in the bed beside me is smiling.” Turns out, I had a single room. But after my pain regimen had been upgraded, the walls seemed happy.

I liked my pain medicine. And I loved “The Pain Team!”

There is one negative to increasing your pain medication. Constipation. It’s a trade-off. You feel an improvement in your pain situation, but you pay the price in the back end. So to speak.

I guess I’m still not a hundred per cent. At full strength, I would never have allowed myself to go out on that.


Max Clarke said...

You're coherent and funny, glad to see you're recovering well.

Chest tubes out yet?

YEKIMI said...

Well glad you're back to least you didn't crap out.