Sunday, February 28, 2010

Surgery’s Hangover

Something they gave me before rolling me into that surgery center just didn’t agree with me and I’m suffering its after-effects.

by Charlie Leck

I’m suffering some after-effects and they’re not much fun; unless, of course, you consider constant dashes for the bathroom, a stinging urinary infection and regular stomach cramps great fun. I know this is no way to begin a blog on a Sunday morning, but, what the hell, you may as well suffer with me. I had cataract surgery on Friday morning. A friend of mine, who I guess is a few years older than I, attended a meeting with me a few weeks ago, only a day after her surgery.

“It’s a snap! Don’t worry about it.” She flung her arms out to her side like a young ballerina and turned her hands so that the palms faced straight-up, showing off a kind of dexterity that escaped me many years ago. “It’s really not a big deal. You’re in and out in no time at all.” She looked as if she were about to sing something from Camelot.

Well, somehow my situation got lost in translation. I had a follow-up examination the morning after my surgery with some young physician that his superiors threw to the wolves. There were a number of people in front of me. My appointed hour got delayed as I sat with an awful stinging sensation in my groin and a prayer on my lips that, if I could only go into the restroom and stand there at the urinal and make it all go away, I would be a believer and faithful servant forever.

I’m sure you know that the most horrible mistake you can make in a situation like this is to complain to your nurse about being kept waiting so long.

“We’ve no control over such matters,” the old veteran whiplashed out at me. “We don’t exactly know when people are going to come in with significant hangovers from their surgery. Now sit down in that chair and let me examine that eye.”

I wanted to debate with her a bit, but I was in no shape to let this conversation escalate to fisticuffs. Nevertheless, waxing quixotic, I told her it would be helpful to at least be informed in the waiting room that appointment times were running behind, say an hour or so.

“My wife and I have another appointment in this neighborhood and we could have gone and taken care of that.”

“Sit down. Put your chin right up here and look directly at that blue light with both eyes.”

It was clearly the conclusion of my morning’s conversation with her. When I tried to mumble something about a few awful, post surgical mysteries that were gurgling around in my insides and causing me some significant pain, she made it clear that her conversations with that complaining bastard were over.

“The doctor will talk to you about those matters in a few minutes. I just need to have you put this paddle over your right eye, look at and read that chart up there on the wall.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said with a touch of surliness.

“I don’t like being called ma’am,” she said with some vehemence.

“Okay, then,” I said curtly. “Yes, sir!”

That got me punished with a 20 minute wait before a young, nervous, pre-warned doctor came in to visit with me. He had the absolute look of some young man just out of medical school who had been given the lowliest form of a job in the clinic – talking to patients like I about their gastrointestinal symptoms.

“This business of not being able to pee,” I said rather frankly, trying to sound as urgent as I could, “is really killing me. What can we do?”

He looked lost as I continued to describe the symptoms, which you do not want to read here.

“Well,” he began, “it happens sometimes, you know, when you get anesthetized and your system relaxes so much that things move around.”

The comment didn’t lift my confidence in the young man to any kind of acceptable level. He looked at me, dazed and wondering what to say next.

“Perhaps I should go to an urgent care facility,” I said, “to see if they can poke a catheter up there and get something out.”

“Yes,” he exploded with relief. “I think you should go to your urgent care facility and consult with a physician there. Perhaps they can catheterize you and get you some relief.”

“Thanks, doc,” I said with as much sarcasm as I could put into my voice.

He didn’t even shake hands as he kissed me off. I expect he had visions in his mind of my efforts to urinate and the simple dribbles I had only managed to create.

He was well out of ear-shot when I hissed out at him.

“Piss off, you little bastard.”

My wife, who had been lingering in the waiting room (well named), agreed with the doctor’s brilliant advice that we go to our clinic’s urgent care facility. We headed off for the other side of town. Even though we had no appointment, our wait was less than five minutes. Unfortunately, the doctor who interviewed me was a young woman and I didn’t much like talking to her about toilet matters. After much thought and discussion, she insisted she needed to examine my prostate.

“What?” I asked sharply. “How do you mean?”

She smiled and held up her index finger and waved it around with a smile on her face.

“Oh, no,” I moaned.

“Yup,” she said. “I’ll go get some lubricant.”

Enough said for one Sunday morning blog.


  1. Museful, there is no Chapter 2. Fortunately I am feeling better and, today, actually very good.

    I have a drawing I did for. Something you might like to put on your blog. Let me know how/where to send it.