If I ever get around to writing a Country-Western song about Easter 2009, that's going to be its title. (I love C-W, by the way, except during times of national crisis when its Neanderthal breast-beating brand of patriotism makes me despair.) There's going to be a line in my song something like "Organs, don't throw stones at your owners" too.
It's a human need to talk in detail about our medical procedures, and I'm all for it, but I'll try to save some for the song.
Here're the basics:
At 5 a.m. on Easter morning, after a night of pain somewhat like having a sullen Klingon crouching in my solar plexus, I called bink and asked her to take me to the hospital. I said she could just drop me off at Emergency and go on home. (Have I mentioned I have a hard time asking for/accepting help?) Of course she didn't, she stayed with me.
The doc immediately diagnosed the pain--Klingons in the gut being a classic syndrome of a gallbladder stone stuck in the bile duct--and the nice, blonde nurse, dressed in pink fleece for Easter, gave me my first morphine ever. Just a wee bit, but now I know why people get addicted: more than removing pain, it made me feel safe.
And it works so much faster than prayer or meditation.
During my 2-day stay, I met many wonderful women from around the world (Liberia, Tibet, Apple Valley, MN) who told me their life stories and dispensed Nobel-Prize-deserving acts of kindness and words of wisdom while taking my vitals in the middle of the night.
bink stayed with me much of the time, even when I told her to go home, and Donna came with flowers and, best of all, clean underwear. When I next visit someone in the hopsital, now I know to bring useful stuff like that. A new toothbrush is like gold, under the circumstances. Also, tieing a stuffed toy bear to the I.V. pole is great for morale.
Several powerful men came and talked at me, and for once this behavior didn't annoy me. I marveled as I watched myself slip effortlessly into "Father Knows Best" mode.
Actually, my surgeon truly was a great guy who listened as much as he talked. His first name was--no kidding--Tor. (The god Thor, you know, is a close relative of Jesus, though I'm not sure how to work that into my song.) When I asked Doc Tor in pre-op if my organs were sad, he looked a bit surprised, but after a pause he said, no, he thought they were relieved because the gallbladder had been a bad neighbor for a long time, always throwing trash around and stuff.
Long story short: they took the Klingon out.
While not up to Dr. McCoy's technique of running a humming salt shaker over the affected area, modern surgery is pretty miraculous--they ran a little movie camera (!) up my belly button, a few snippers through a couple other incisions, and here I am, less than 48 hours later, home and not even taking my high-end pain pills. In a couple weeks, I could sell them in my alley and send the money to the hospital. Cause without insurance, I'm afraid I can't pay for this...
This whole thing did leave me thinking, maybe I should get a job with benefits, working with people in the flesh. Not just because I could use the insurance and paychecks, but because I so enjoyed being around people again, after years of working alone at the computer.
They had a patients' computer in the lounge, and I didn't even want to use it. I wanted to chat more with the nurses about His Holiness the Dalai Lama or President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
I tell you, except for the pain and fear, my Easter Sunday and Monday was great--sort of like vacationing at the United Nations, but without the bickering.