I had surgery yesterday. Why, yes, it was a penis operation. Well, not a penis operation per se. It was a procedure on my bladder, or more accurately inside my bladder. With a camera. And a laser. And two Star Wars action figure robots to operate the laser. And a flashlight of some sort. Kind of a hard place to get to for a tune up, but all that had to get into my bladder, through my urethra, which is technically part of my penis. So in many ways, it was a penis operation. In any case I think “penis operation” sounds edgier and more bad ass than “bladder procedure.” Actually it would have a more distinctive military vibe in keeping with the times if it was just called “Operation Penis.”
Apparently I had a bladder stone the size of Mount Rushmore (without the presidential faces) and a possible foreign body in there. By “in there”, I mean my bladder. All complications from an earlier surgery and radiation treatments from another situation some time ago. Not unheard of, but it can lead to some awkward moments when an explanation is called for. Like when your checking on for the procedure.
“Hmm. I see we’re going to laser a bladder stone and remove a possible foreign body?” Eyebrows raised, waiting expectantly for clarification.
“I know what it sounds like. I wasn’t smuggling illegal immigrants in my bladder and it’s not like the urban legend about the guy coming into the ER because he shoved a gerbil up his rectum and it wouldn’t come out. I mean it’s not like I’m going to hide my apocalypse stash of South African gold kruggerands in there. I hide those where nobody would dream of looking. Like my sock drawer or under my mattress.”
The night before, I downloaded a living will form from an online legal site and feverishly started checking boxes to pull the plug on any and all life prolonging efforts if the ship is going down and it’s all over but the shouting. BUT the one about NOT administering pain medication gave me cause to pause. I mean why would I NOT want to have pain medication if I’m suffering a painful, screaming death. I can’t see any upside to that. Strikes me as a real lose/lose situation all around. If I’m going down swinging I might as well go down feeling like I’m dancing my ass off at the Last Rave. To make it all legal and above board, the form required two witnesses who were not related to me. I only had one. We forged the other. Won’t say who, but one of the possible contenders was my dog Chauncy. He’s known me for six years and he’s not a blood relative. In the end it was not necessary anyway because I already had a Living Will on file from my last medical misadventure. That one was properly drawn up in my attorney’s office, and I was relieved to see that I’d had the presence of mind to include the proviso that I would go out in a lime green mohair jumpsuit yelling “One more time!” with Donna Summer blasting through blown speaker cabinets.
Checking into the ambulatory surgical unit was surreal. I registered my arrival with a rather stern looking volunteer in the hallway. I appreciate the work she does as a volunteer in a hospital, but she had a rather unnerving air about her. Kind of like my piano teacher when I hadn’t practiced the week’s lesson. Not one bit. Her eyes were shocking blue and her gimlet gaze made me feel like I was trying to sneak something through customs (in my bladder) or like I was trying to get back into homeroom without a hall pass. I was shown to a room where I was issued a change of clothes for surgery.
Hospital clothes are the embodiment of the. most. tragic. fashion. choices. ever! A flimsy, threadbare, assless gown with horrific floral prints, skin tight extra small robe more like a straight jacket, powder blue paper shoes with matching powder blue paper hat. I suppose it’s all part of breaking me down so they can build me back up again.
More check-in questions.
“Did you take your meds today?”
“How ‘bout your Viagra?”
Stunned by the personal nature of that question but even more so by its absurdity I wanted to say:
“Why yes. I took a double dose of Viagra about 15 minutes ago. I thought it might be easier for the surgical team to find my penis that way.”
“We need an X Ray. We’ll take you down in a wheel chair.”
Apparently you can ambulate in but not ambulate out. So feeling resplendent in my new get up, off we went through the public hallways. I just couldn’t wait to run into someone I hadn’t seen in ages.
Much of the hospital was built during Pre-Columbian times and some of the hallways look like they might have been used as a set for Shutter Island. As we tooled through the hall way leading to X Ray I marveled at the flesh colored walls and wondered if Stephen King might have served as their interior decorating consultant. A technician wheeled me into X Ray and told me to hop up onto the table, which was a hard plastic table about 5 feet off the floor covered by a slippery white towel. Suddenly I went from being wheel chair bound to feeling like a performer in Cirque du Soleil.
Before I knew it, I was in the OR, counting backwards from a hundred in German and giving up all my secrets to the Russians before slipping into unconsciousness. I came to in a curtained cubicle in recovery with an overwhelming need to pee. Needless to say, I was alarmed that my pee was the color of a vintage cabernet sauvignon, but assured that it was quite normal and that at least I was able to pee. Anyway, even though my body feels like it was used as a piñata everything came out fine, and we all lived happily ever after.
All kidding aside, THANK YOU to the compassionate and extremely competent medical team that helped me through this.You guys are the best and I couldn’t be more awestruck by what you do. I owe you one!