I Had Surger . . . a Procedure

You want to trust the doctors
Their procedure is the best
But the last try was a failure
And the intern was a mess *

procedure.jpg

I don’t like the term surgery, so for the purpose of this post, it’s a procedure. Got it? Good.

And don’t worry—everything went fine, except for one aspect that is almost too horrifying to relate. Due to ridiculously stringent anesthesia rules, I had to go without food or liquid for what ended up being 19 hours.

I’ll let this sink in for a minute.

JD: foodless and liquidless. For 19 hours.

OK, let’s move on.

I was supposed to have this procedure at my doctor’s office. That sounds so much better than surgery at the hospital, right? Well, my insurance company didn’t agree. Apparently they translate “procedure at a doctor’s office” to mean “patient dies on the table,” because they wouldn’t cover it.

Have I told you how much I hate hospitals? It doesn’t help that I’m something of a germophobe—which is NOT a bad thing, by the way. I hate hospitals for all the reasons everyone hates hospitals: they smell funny, sick people hang out there, fashion choices are limited, and germs can kill you. Still, I wanted to get this thing done, so off to the hospital I went.

My mom went with me, which was only fair, as I’ve accompanied her on numerous recent hospital visits. She’s quite an expert on how it all goes down.

“Now, you’ll go into a room and they’ll give you a gown and you have to take off ALL your clothes, even your underpants . . .”

“Mom, I know—I’ve been there with you and I’ve heard all about the underpants.” (I’ve witnessed some minor skirmishes between hospital personnel and my weakened but stubborn mom over her demand to keep her underwear.)

“. . . and then when you’re all done, they’ll bring you back to the room and I’ll be waiting here and they’ll bring you an Otis Spunkmeyer muffin and your choice of juice.”

I can’t believe she remembers all these details better than I do, considering she was the one coming out of anesthesia.

As promised by my mom, the nurse came in to take some blood, but apparently there was no blood to be had, as my veins had collapsed from dehydration. Damn, that sounds kind of serious! But she tried another vein, and was able to squeeze out a few drops. I suddenly felt very pale and weak, even tho I’d felt fine before the bloodletting had begun.

The nurse held aloft a plastic cup and announced that she’d need a urine sample.

Lady, didn’t you just tell me I’m dehydrated? If I don’t have any blood, how am I supposed to come up with urine? But the Bladder Gods were on my side, and I was able to produce enough for a sample.

After I handed over the cup, the nurse filled me in on the plan.

“So your surgery is scheduled for 1:00 . . .”

“Procedure!”

“You’ll need to put on these surgical socks . . .”

“Procedural socks!”

“And the surgeon . . .”

“Proceduralist!”

“. . . needs you to have all your undergarments removed.”

My mom smiled triumphantly.

If you have to sit in a hospital room wearing procedural socks and no underpants, watching “Maury” on TV with your mom isn’t a bad way to do it. I forgot all about my procedure as we learned that Clayton was back on the show a second time to share a devastating secret with his wife.

“He’s gay!” I shouted, but, no, it was the other secret: he had slept with the babysitter. The wife and babysitter proceeded to kill each other.

“Do you have to be obese to be on this show?” my mom asked.

We were just about to find out if the babysitter was pregnant when my transport arrived. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t going anywhere until I heard the pregnancy test results. He was more than happy to stick around and watch for a few minutes, but damn that Maury, he introduced a new guest with a new devastating secret. Fine. Let’s go.

“Bye, Mom!” As I’m wheeled away, she tells me to be good, a sure sign she’s emotional, because she would never say that otherwise. Aw. Moms rule! But I hate, hate, hate this part. Why don’t they let you walk? When you’re done, you’re doped up and feeling vulnerable and you’re GLAD someone is wheeling you, all bundled up and goofy, to your room. But when you’re completely lucid it seems a shame to take a perfectly good gurney from someone who may really need it.

I sit in the holding area for about 15 minutes, where I overhear a woman explain that she’d suffered a stroke after a chiropractic adjustment. Yikes. So that isn’t an urban legend.

I meet my anesthetist, who is maybe 12. In fact, looking around at all the nurses and assistants, I notice they’re all really young. Except, uh-oh. There’s a REALLY old lady over there. What’s she doing here? She’s about 80. She’s in scrubs and a hairnet thing. Don’t let her near me! Much to my relief, a nice teenager comes over to stick a needle in my hand.

“OK, we’re going to take you into the operating room . . .”

“Procedure room!”

The room is very bright and cold. I do love a cold room. I get shifted onto a heated bed and immediately begin to sweat. That needle in my hand really hurts, and I mention it to the nice young girl who may or may not have any medical training. She promises me I won’t feel it in a minute. I want to argue with her, but suddenly I’m unconscious.

Aaaand . . . blam! I’m conscious again. We’re all done! The procedure was a howling success. I’m returned to my room and my mom, who looks all goopy and momlike.

The nurse came in shortly after. People, let me give you some advice. If you ever have any kind of medical procedure, no matter how minor, when the nurse asks you a question, the answer is always “Vicodin.” Here are some sample Q&A’s:

“How are you feeling?”

“Vicodin.”

“Can I get you anything?”

“Vicodin.”

“Do you feel like you could eat something?”

“Vicodin.”

“Did you put your underpants back on?”

“Vicodin.”

See how “Vicodin” works for all of those questions? I had a crazy nurse who asked if I wanted Motrin or “something stronger.” Why is there even a need for that question? Who would ever pick Motrin when you can have “something stronger”?

“Vicodin,” I said firmly.

I waited eagerly for my Vicodin and my Otis Spunkmeyer muffin and choice of juice, but when the nurse returned, the tray held only a pile of crackers and water. And one measly Vicodin.

Seriously, who takes just one Vicodin? The last time I took only one pill was probably when I was a baby. Mind you, I was hardly in any pain, but I wanted what was coming to me: drugs, and lots of them. Still, the Vicodin did the job, which was to make me feel rewarded for my ordeal. I wish I could say the same for the crackers and water.

After our traditional post-hospital trip to Starbuck’s, my mom brought me home, where, under my doctor’s orders, I began my 2-day stint as a couch potato. This is one thing I’m happy to do so you don’t have to.

Hey, what time is “Maury” on?

* Today’s lyrics are courtesy of REM

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