Thursday, April 15, 2010

Once you pre-op…you can’t stop

I may have mentioned some time last week that I had an appointment on Tuesday to see the surgeon who will be performing my parathyroid surgery on April 21st, and I’m pleased to report that the terror level I usually experience when thinking about it was a cool blue color, as depicted in the chart to your left. I’m still a bit nervous, but the doc is a pretty right guy and seems to know what he’s doing…the only reservations I have is that there is a teensy chance he might nick a vocal nerve during the operation and I’ll end up sounding like Joe E. Lewis for the rest of my life. (The doc was honest enough to admit that this has happened to one of his patients—the nerve had wrapped itself around the portion of thyroid he was trying to remove and as he was peeling it away it tore, necessitating its repair. On my chart, there’s a notation of this risk and it also reads: “Mr. Shreve understands this and has agreed to the procedure”…which is not technically accurate. It’s more a case of “What other choice do I have?”)

My favorite part of the brief conversation we had is when he reminded me of the drawing he did of the procedure while I was still in the hospital and he asked me: “Do I need to draw it again?”

“No, Doc…that image is tattooed onto my brain,” I managed to respond, a bit dry-mouthed.

So, this morning I went over to the hospital for pre-op instructions and lab work—they have me fill out a metric ton of paperwork, I talk with the anesthesiologist’s assistant about how they’ll put me under, etc. The lady in charge of taking my blood had a difficult time of it because she had difficulty locating a vein—and I don’t think this was her fault; I have lazy veins…sprawled-out-on-the-couch-watching-TV veins, as it were. She tried twice and when those attempts yielded no results she announced she was going to find someone else and let them have a go; again, I didn’t find this too disturbing because it seems that every hospital or doctor’s office has at least one nurse who can find a vein in a dense fog and who attacks said vein with the enthusiasm of Ahab hunting Moby Dick. I think they finally got it after a total of four tries; the only side effect was that when I took a drink of lemonade at Burger King afterward I looked like a sprinkler system.

Thank you, thank you…I’m here all week. Try the veal!

I’m scheduled to check in on the 21st but I don’t know the exact time I’m supposed to be there—I have to call about that on the 20th between 2 and 4:00 pm. Some of these instructions they gave me for the night before surgery are kind of risible: for example, they suggest I not eat anything spicy or greasy for dinner for fear of stomach upset (“Yes, I ate an entire bucket of KFC—should I not have done that? Was that wrong?”). But my favorite reads:

Arrange for an adult to drive you home after surgery. You will not be permitted to leave alone. Public transportation is not acceptable.

This made me giggle only because I got a mental picture of someone carrying an IV with him onto Athens Transit (a.k.a. “The Bus”). The blood work lady told me that they actually had people try this before.

Anyway, I’m babbling about all this medical stuff because I didn’t have a proper post prepared for today. I will, however, engage in a bit of shameless self-promotion and let you know that the latest Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show collection is available from Radio Spirits. Eighteen of the twenty broadcasts available in this 10-CD set are being made available for the very first time, and with your purchase you’ll receive a nice little Program Guide with notes written by yours truly. You should most assuredly order a copy of this fine collection today, if not sooner.

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Bill Crider said...

You're taking this better than I would!

Pam said...

Not only must you be driven, but by an adult. I guess Peanut and her peddle-car is not an option.

Frontal Lobe said...

"Arrange for an adult to drive you home after surgery."

I guess that means having a 10 year old drive you home is out of the question :-)

Tom said...

Ha ha ha. "The Bus". That sounds like something out of Saturday Night Live skit.

And I love "Arrange for an adult to drive you home". As if a toddler would attempt to.

bluefly said...

Hello, dahling!

It's always an adventure to try to leave a comment for you. I could get into Mr. Benny's vault sooner than I could log onto Google!

However, only you could write a sight gag and get the same kind of laugh. I'm still seeing your arms spout lemonade!

I know it's scary, Ivan, but you will come out on the other side of all of this. Consider me a good luck charm - all of the men I love come through this kind of thing very well - and NOT sounding like Joe E. Lewis!

Stay strong, dahling!

Edward Copeland said...

Ever since my extended time in the hospital in 2008, my veins have been in the Witness Relocation Program. One time, just to place an IV for the anethesia for surgery, they actually had to go through my carotid artery because they could find nothing else. I suggested hitting me over the head with a large mallet, but they wouldn't go for it. When they want blood samples, I suggest picking my nose until it bleeds and then dripping into a vile, but they don't go for that either.

Jeff Overturf said...

It's the old Carol Burnett dentist routine...before surgury, you reach down and grab the doctor by the "gotchas" and let him know that, if you don't get hurt, he doesn't get hurt.

Simple schoolyard arithmatic!

Stacia said...

You're taking this well, I think. And that legalese added to the consent form about patients wishing to proceed is standard, but I laugh every time I type it, because I figure the patient would rather see "wishes to proceed, provided the doctor hasn't been on a three day vodka-and-nacho bender immediately prior to surgery."

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

"Vodka-and-nacho bender." Best laugh I've had all week.