Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Event Review - Surgery

Surgery today was a beating.

No, not me. I'm fine. No surgery for me, at least until I get prostate cancer or my kidneys throw in the towel and decide that thirty years of diverting hard liquor to my bladder is two years too long. My wife had surgery today, because she has lupus and she's been getting sicker for the last several years. Her doctor is pretty confident that it was caused by a body part I don't understand doing something it wasn't supposed to be doing (which I also do not understand).

So today, they went in with a camera attached to a razor blade and took some part out of her gut. This offensive part was originally supposed to do something useful, like guarding the refrigerator or gassing up the car, but had recently begun to work with the Russians on secret plans for world domination. This diabolical organ had been turned by the KGB and was slowly infiltrating my wife's body with sleeper agents designed to poison the water supply and double-dip in the guacamole.

If you've never had the chance to spend an entire day sitting around an outpatient surgical center, I really can't suggest you go out of your way to try. For one thing, it's rather expensive. Insurance pays most of it, but even ten percent of ten grand is still enough that I could have refurnished my living room with my co-pay. And because they know damned well that a lot of people are going to stonewall them, you have to pay up front. It's understandable, really. It's not like a car, where they can repossess if you don't pay. What are they going to do, put the parts back in?

It's also kind of annoying. The thing about medical facilities is there are so damned many sick people. You're sitting there trying to ignore the rasp of the octogenarian with the oxygen tube, and it would be working if only the family of five could have found a babysitter for Mom's most recent spawn while she's having her fallopian tubes tied up like a theme park pretzel.

And there's really nothing to do for a huge part of the day. You sit around the waiting room while they prep your wife (or friend, or sister, or postal carrier), then you go into the room in the back and say, 'have fun! If you die, I'm keeping your stuff!' Then you go back to the waiting room, where you sit around for another hour or two while doctors who make more in a week than you make in a year root around in her insides with a robot filming a YouTube video.

It doesn't get much better when she comes out, either. When your loved one finally emerges from the operating room, she is on enough drugs that she believes you are not a person at all, but a gas bubble caused by a badly digested frozen burrito. Eventually she will recover from her dementia, and then be so weak that you will spend the next four hours hand-feeding her crackers and water.

To make matters considerably worse, if you are in one of these day-labor surgery houses, the recovery area is basically a hallway with curtains. Every time anyone within thirty feet talks about how they just had a mechanical bladder installed, you get to hear all the details. And not everyone who gets surgery is as stoic about it as my wife - or as quiet. There was a woman a few booths down who, to hear her talk, must have had her toe eaten by zombie squirrels. I'm sure she was in some pain, but at least nobody stuck a Roto-Rooter through a hole in her stomach and came out with internal organs. My wife was hurting, but she managed to do it quietly, and with as much dignity as a person can manage while wearing one of those ridiculous medical skirts whose sole purpose appears to be making you look like you just wandered out of an orphanage for the mentally retarded.

Of course, I really have no business complaining. I left with the exact same set of body parts I had when I went in. The only pain I had today was from sitting in crappy hospital chairs, and maybe the headache I got from listening to old people blather at length about the boils they had lanced on their lower intestines. I have my health, or as much of it as I have left after decades of poor life choices and spicy Indian food.

My wife is home now, resting comfortably and not complaining at all. In fact, if I don't make her sit down, she'll probably get up and start cooking something. I'll tell you right now, if a doctor scoops out my guts with a melon-baller on a string, I'm going to bitch like I just got stabbed in the scrotum. I'm really proud of her, though I guess having her ass kicked by her illness every day for the last five years has toughened her up.

Just wait until my appendix bursts. I'm going to make you all bring food by the house.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about it. Take care of her (yes, even if it means you won't have time to provide me with my weekly dose of awesome game reviews!).
Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that man, good that your missus is made of strong stuff, they usually are, or at least, they complain less about shit! Keep up the good work here. I've always wondered what the hell lupus was. "House" wonders in every freaking episode if thats the diagnosis, but it never is. me and the missus work as clinical physicists in radiotherapy and work all the time with doctors, we keep meaning to ask, so what the hell is lupus and does anyone really get it? Looks like your wife is living proof it's not just a running gag for Hugh Laurie!
ha det så bra, as we say over here

Matt Drake said...

Lupus is a thing where some part of your body tells the antibodies to go throw beatings on the good parts instead of the bad parts. It attacks joints, and flares up a lot. Mild lupus only flares up every now and then, and causes exhaustion and discomfort. Serious lupus flares several times a month, lasts for a few days at a time, and makes my wife sleep all day and barely be able to get out of bed. It comes with a bunch of pain and no energy at all. And flares can get bad enough to be deadly - I've read about more than one person who died from lupus before 50.

So hopefully the doctors got the body part that was sending out the wrong orders, and she'll start to get better.

Tensider said...

Did you have to put up with the terrible daytime TV in the waiting room? That was the worst. When my wife was having her own scope & scoop Adventures in Intestine Land, I spent several long days waiting in the outpatient family area. After the morning shows, Dr. Phil, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire (and who knew it was still on the air?) I began to envy my unconscious and gastrointestinally probed wife. I couldn't use earbuds either, because the nurses would occasionally come out and softly call my name. Then they'd tell me that there were delays and I shouldn't make any evening plans. If I hadn't answered their calls, who knows what would have happened. They probably would have sold her parts to the local organic dogfood company.

Only after the fourth visit to this personal perdition did I find out that they had a beeper system. I could have taken a beeper and found a quiet corner of the hospital, to wait out the hours away from All My General Hospital's Days of Our Nights. Nobody mentioned this.

Anonymous said...

I know you're not a fan of religious stuff, but we're praying for you and your family anyway.

Matt Drake said...

Oh, yes! I should have mentioned the thoroughly annoying TV I got to watch! For most of my stay in the waiting room, I was blasted by a talk show, one of those where a no-name asshole brings celebrity chefs on set and then pretends that they're really good friends.

KnightsofOblivion said...

Glad the misses is out and ok. Waiting while another is in surgery always sucks and the relief when they get out just indescribable. Our youngest has been under the knife more times than I can remember but it never gets any easier.I always feel it's a win if we leave in better shape the when we arrive but at the time It never feels like it.

Universal Head said...

Last week I spent 24 hours in the emergency ward with my partner, waiting for a hospital bed (she's fine now, I'm happy to say), so this sure struck a chord. Those places are definitely somewhere you don't want to be for fun. Thanks for taking me back! ;)

Parduz said...

I remember you already told us about that "lupus"... my best wishes for everything.

On a "lighter" argument, my blood alway chills when i read that when someone need an hospital he need to check if the health insurance cover it.... as you may know, here in Italy there's a national health care. We pay taxes for it (for us and for the ones that cannot) and, according to your annual incomes, you may have to pay some cash, but when you need an hospital you just have to care about yourself.
This may makes me sound as an extreme "left" person (i am not) but i'd not change this "status" for anything.... even if there's a lot of people that "steal" money from this system.

My best whishes again.

Matt Drake said...

The Missus and I both want to really thank everyone for your kind thoughts. She's been reading the comments, and it's been making her smile. So thanks for that. It means a lot.

Jean-Christophe Gareau said...

With my good wishes for your swift recovery!!!

TG Zahn said...

Matt I would first like to say I hope your wife feels better and has a speedy recovery and hopefully has been fixed of that nasty problem. Second I would like to say I just recently found out about your site and cant get enough of it. I just finally caught up on reading all of your game reviews from when you first started. Your sense of humor is refreshing and very funny. Keep up the good work and cant wait to read more.

ozjesting said...

I always thought Lupus was the right fielder for the Bad News Bears!
My best wishes for Mrs. Flames.