The Last Laugh
I had shoulder surgery. I've whined about it so much I'm surprised if this is the first you've heard.
When I walked into the hospital the day I was going under I was asked the most interesting question.
First, let me preface this because preface is a cool word. I try to throw it in whenever possible, and since I'm from Iowa, I have a hard time doing that.
Anyway, I was taken back for my preliminary pre-surgery stuff -- alone. That's when I was asked that interesting question: "Do you feel safe at home?"
I didn't answer directly because 1) I couldn't ascertain the end game. What would that have to do with getting spurs gouged from my shoulder socket? And 2) I was preparing to appreciate that the pain I felt at the moment would be a walk in the park compared to what I would feel when I woke up.
I answered with a question. My husband assures me that's the fastest way to annoy people. Obviously, it's a forte of mine. "Why would you ask me that?"
There was a pause. I continued, "Yes, I feel safe at home. I'm trying to figure out why you'd ask me that."
"We ask you back here alone because if you're a victim of domestic abuse, you won't admit it with your significant other present."
Some things are just sheer genius. Maybe if I hadn't recently fasted, I'd been on my A game.
"I feel safe at home but after this morning, my husband shouldn't."
Fortunately, she laughed.
I stepped on a scale and looked at the electronic display. "You're weighing me in kilograms?" I pressed the pound key because I don't do math in my head. Not after food deprivation.
"Yes, we weigh you in kilograms." She pressed the "kgs" button again.
We joined my husband for the walk to another pre-surgery place. That's when he asked me the second strangest question of the day: "Can you wipe with your other hand?"
"Yes, honey." I was holding a beer while squatting in the woods long before I met him.
A large number of people attended to me before surgery. I don't know if this was to give me the illusion that I was well cared for or if it all had purpose but this is where the strange statements continued.
From my anesthesiologist: "For starters, we're going to assume you weigh 95 pounds and not 95 kilograms."
Obviously in my button pushing faux pas back at the scale, I'd put myself at risk of never waking up again.
Way to go, Cin.
Then he prepared to give me a nerve block. In the shoulder (just in case you were wondering what part of my anatomy they wanted to paralyze). This would help fend off the pain until well after I was home and could get a jump on pain meds. I don't know if anyone has ever shared this with you but they made it clear that shoulders are the worst. For pain. I would go home with Oxycodone Acetaminophen. You know they're serious when they give you 60. For starters. I was encouraged to take it as prescribed. It was all about establishing a baseline of comfort before the block wore off.
Back to that. The anesthesiologist said, "This won't take long and you won't feel a thing."
"Sounds like my honeymoon," I said. He laughed. That was my goal. I feel like if there was something to remember about me, he'd be less likely to screw up and kill me. Maybe I've oversimplified life.
Next, he handed me a purple pen and asked me to mark the shoulder that required surgery. I drew a smiley face. He laughed again. Surely you can't accidentally overdose someone who's made you laugh more than once. I prayed. I got extremely tired. Man, they really know how to put a person out. I wondered why lethal injection was so difficult to master. Yes, I can go in and out of thoughts like that even while sedated. You should try me while I'm sober. It's excruciating. Just ask my husband. He was willing to reconsider his vows if he had to wipe my ass.
This is why.
A few days later, when the meds stopped working and my stomach was destroyed, I tried to tough it out and paid for it with an endearing level of pain. With inflamed incisions, I whined to the office nurse until she reluctantly invited me in for a quick peek. I unveiled my three incisions and heard, "They look annoyed and painful -- that's just the way we like them."
Everyone's a comedian. They just got the last laugh.
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