Friday, September 21, 2012

Live Like Charlie Sheen.

   I am now officially It-less. Yes, party people of the party people nation, I have undergone my second stint of general anaesthesia this year, in some circles that makes me a fucking rock star. Not really the circles you want, but still. It's nice to be appreciated.
   On Monday, only very, very recently retrieved from REM, my dad informs me that the clinic called and said they could bump me up by an hour and a half if I hustled. Thusly, I hustled, and we managed to get there a whole half hour before I was scheduled to have my rib extension excised gangsta style. (When it's not gangsta style they try to coax the tumour out with gentle words and reverse psychology. Gangsta style means they cut a bitch open, yo.)

   Yeah, the palm-fronds make it look deceptively Exclusive Spa For Elective Surgery. It's not. You walk around that corner on the right there and you can purchase yourself some disprin and a handgun.
   We braved the elevator ride that makes you question all your life choices up to that point, and proceeded with the now very familiar process of filling in forms. (I made the point that every time someone asks me to fill in a form I can hear Stephen Fry going "Fill OUT a form? Fill OUT a form?!") They slapped on my bracelet and I realised that I had in fact neglected to remember to let my mother know I'd be having surgery. Yeah, I'll pay for that one in inheritance later.

We were waiting in a very typical doctor's room when they ushered me through a door I hadn't noticed into an expansive frikkin' hospital ward in the back. I swear, looking at the place from the outside, there's no way I'd have guessed that shit was in there. It doesn't even seem like there should be space for it. It's like the Tardis. Or the Room of Requirement. Or the very special Narnia you go to where they stick sharp things in you for kicks.
   The nurse was a true unwavering affirmation of life and joy. No really, this woman smiled once and I think that was only in anticipation of watching them cut into me. Every time my father and I would make hushed jokes (and he, like the trooper that he is, would take photos like I asked him to even though I had quite obviously lost the spirit for heinously unflattering candid shots as predicted. He's like Hunter S. Thompson, that one.) we were given a look that could have set fire to the carefully placed Teddybears of Doom on the kids' beds. (Seriously, if you led me to a neatly made hospital bed with a free Tigger on the pillow, I know it's Make A Wish time.) She asked me what I was in for, and I had to fight myself from telling her it was for shooting a man in Reno. I explained that I had a thing, that I no longer held any affection for the thing, and that the kindly surgeons had been game enough to volunteer to remove the thing. Then she asked (rather worryingly, I might add) which side it was on.
   The anaesthesiologist came in to ask me all the questions I had answered on the form again- as they do- and asked me which side they were operating on. Obligingly, I once again indicated my right side, hoping I wasn't going to be the retrospective topic of a Weird Al Yankovic song. Here's an odd thing that only makes itself noticeable as a pattern once you've had more surgeries than you have vestigial organs: anaesthesiologists seem to suffer almost universally from some kind of random but specifically nuanced health condition. The last guy to put me under was very visibly suffering either a kind of a palsy or an appalling case of the hangover shakes, which was somewhat discomfiting at the time. This poor person had rather obviously taken a radio-active shower that morning, as about 96% of his face was in the process of peeling off in the most unsightly fashion possible. But at least looking like he had been sunbathing in a pizza oven was not a malignancy that could conceivably cause him to accidentally stick the needle in the wrong place, so I now just feel like I want to recommend him a really good skin cream and issue a prescription for a hug.
   Then, the moment that I live these adventures in hospital smells for: the gown.

   No, my toes are not going necrotic, I have rather superly painted them black for a dash of danger and intrigue. The gown I was brought was another tie-in-the-front one, and the nurse started explaining it to me before I held up a heroically resigned hand to tell her I knew well these front-tying gowns of which she spake. Luckily, this one didn't threaten to indulge a boob in its bid for freedom every few minutes, which meant I only had to keep tugging the damn thing down to make sure I didn't confirm my gender to the whole ward in a very practical manner.
   Yes, that right there is a picture of me going as commando as it is possible to go in a blue smock. To her credit, at least Nurse Rottenmeier looked marginally abashed when she had to inform me that if I wasn't wearing cotton undies, they would have to go. As I knew I was in fact rocking a pair of bright orange poly-blend bad boys (the like of which you've probably been repeatedly warned not to get caught in by your doctors in the event of an unforeseen collision) I didn't even put up a fight. For the record, sitting around in public with no underwear on whatsoever feels like the wrongest kind of wrong that it is possible to wrong. It's like the feeling you get as a kid when you have the dream that you're going to the bathroom and end up peeing in your bed: it's against some kind of nature. Or nurture, more likely, but still.
   The surgeon came in, chipper enough to almost make up for the rest of the damn team looking like someone had peed in their Fruit Loops that morning, and proceeded to ask me which side we were operating on. Now call me paranoid, call me over-analytical, but when you've been asked which side is being operated on by your cheery operators more often than you've been asked to sign here and initial here, a very creepy pattern starts to establish itself in your mind. It's painfully clear that there had either been an incident here before in which the wrong kidney was removed, or no, that's really the only explanation. I was tempted to draw a really big smiley face on my right side with a dotted scissor line on the It, but I'm sure you'll be proud to know that I resisted. I did, however, make the mistake of asking if they'd be using Sojourn to put me under when they asked if I had any questions. I meant this only in light of the fact that the last time I was put under, I espied a drug called Sojourn that was meant for the sole purpose of sending one on a little outing, and this entertained me unendingly. They, being the Hole In The Wall Gang, misunderstood rather spectacularly and embarked upon a two minute "Who's On First" routine of asking me why IN GOD'S NAME WHY, WOMAN would I ask about Sojourn, and what's going to happen if they use it although they don't use it here and will I die if they do and incidentally which side is it again that they're meant to be slicing into?
   That settled, they wheeled me in and all marvelled at my steely calm. The oxygen was placed over my mouth and nose, at which I noted that the stuff smelled like our medicine cabinet- which is not to say it smells like medication, but rather that it smells like the foul vanilla scented candles we keep in there. I articulated this note to the nurse, who said that oddly the kids they get in there seem to think it smells like banana, which leads me to believe that children do not actually know what bananas smell like. Someone in the operating room finally caught on to my explanation of why "Sojourn" is funny, and asked to have it explained again- I assume either for clarity or as a cruel test of my endurance while the anaesthesia set in, it's a toss-up either way. I blearily went through the whole thing again and was genuinely three quarters out of this particular realm of consciousness when I heard that same someone attempt to spell the damn word out loud. They had wonderingly managed to get an "a" in there somewhere, and right about the point where everyone smiles knowingly at you while you taper off after "...6, 7..." I managed to eject in one, loud burst the correct spelling for Sojourn before everything blacked out.

   I woke up with little pain or to-do, although every single instance of coming out of anaesthesia I've ever experienced has been rife with existential angst. It really does make you feel terribly unsure for long minutes whether or not you exist, and usually I'm cussing at nursing staff trying to get them to understand that I cannot fucking breathe. There was less foul-mouthing, but once I was mostly compos mentis my dad informed me that I had smiled hugely for a picture I have absolutely no memory of. In the interest of accurate journalism I share with you now that very picture, but I warn and caveat excessively that it might well be the worst picture ever taken of a human being. I kind of judge half-asleep me for not having programmed my knowledge of Angles That Work On Me into muscle memory so I wouldn't have to sacrifice double chin redux shots for the sake of being fully awake. Someone ought to be able to stick a camera into my face while I'm actually asleep and I should still have found a way to cock my head slightly down and to the left and now I'm just stalling and we both know it so here it is.

   Oh god, the radiant beauty. I must shield my eyes for to keep from being incinerated by the sheer magnitude of my own post-surgical effulgence.
   I insisted I was fine to leave rather a long time before I actually was, and with as much dignity as I could muster got dressed again and stuck my bra in my pocket because the damn thing's strap hits me right in the stitches.

   My dad has been spending a lot of time away from home, being as he has a new paramour. I'm very happy about this as a development, but it does mean that the house and I are making each other's renewed and rather personal acquaintance for most of the week. It's just me, the cats and my extensive karaoke repertoire, and when I bust out the Streisand it's not even always the cats. Every time the roof creaks or some stranger rattles the front gate drunkenly at 3 AM my paranoia kicks in, and I end up entertaining fairly long-winded scenarios in which I single-handedly fend off an intruder by using my cheap-as-shit BB gun to force him into a chair, to which I strap him with zip ties and pure, unadulterated courage. I then deliver a couple of Bond one-liners and a Hannibal speech (maybe even a "do you feel lucky punk?" while Tesla gently curls up on his lap) until such time as the police show up, (Which, since it's my fantasy, is almost on cue mere minutes after the emergency call and not 3 hours later with a bad attitude the way it would actually happen.) (Also, the police line operator is awestruck by my almost alarmingly steady voice and I have to really emphasise that this is indeed an emergency because even in my fantasy I kind of know that sooner or later the guy is going to realise my gun has the words "made in China" etched on the side and fuck me right up.)
   None of this has presented as an opportunity yet, but here's daring to hope.

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