I don't believe the doctors intend to lie. And I am not so naive to think that open heart surgery is simple. But when a top notch surgeon kicks his chair back on two legs, grins and slaps his hands saying, “You are a great candidate, we will just go in there and fix this thing and you will feel better.”, he might be leaving out a few zingers. Granted, if some folks knew they would feel like they had been trampled by elephants, they might not opt for the temporary bit of hell called open-heart surgery.
I have plenty of stories to tell, but for a sampler of highlights:
- Led Zeppelin playing as I drifted off into Neverland. Kashmir, baby.
- Yanking the drain tubes out of my chest. This is a poor-man's version of that unforgettable scene in Alien. But then the whole phenomenon of watching stuff draining from my chest to a container beside my bed made me want to chuck.
- “Does this hurt?” the doctor asked after he jerked the stuck pacemaker leads out of my chest.-- on the third try. My dear brother witnessing the event broke a bead of sweat on that one, and he is a tough guy.
- The medical staff's obsession with pee and poop. They measured it like gold and liked to keep the pee bottle in one of two places: hanging on my bed next to my right shoulder (Doesn't anybody find a problem with that?) or on my food tray (What?) I left it in the bathroom but they never got the message. And regarding the poo? They would not let me leave without doing it. I drew the line there. I told them the truth, but I was NOT going to let them inspect it. I flushed and they took my word for it.
- Sitting on the hospital bed with Deborah, about to be discharged, after my first bath. We had washed carefully around all the war wounds and dressed me in real clothes. Finally we dared to make the slightest plan about the future. Priorities became crystal clear.
- Feeling like an alien in my own body. Stuff just doesn't work right. My skin color is oddly dark, my mind works differently, I cannot consistently regulate my body temperature, my legs feel like they are an aftermarket add-on. My heart thumps so loudly that it shakes my head on the pillow.
- Being told that my extraordinary health swept me through the process, that I was a “fast-tracker” and then, getting out of the hospital bed, putting on my shoes and walking from there right out of the hospital door. Just like that.