It takes a lot to slow me down, but when I fell and tore the meniscus in my knee, that did it. Most people have had some sort of major surgery in their lives and I finally joined their ranks. It was an interesting foray into a world that I do not visit often: the world of hospitals, operations and medical personnel.
In and of itself, the medical world is an interesting phenomenon. I remember working, many years ago, in a hospital for a while, and the ‘culture’ of that environment is interesting. Unless you are a part of it, usually will not have a clue about the ‘hospital’ culture and think nothing of it. It is filled with really wonderful people who work hard and many do thankless jobs day in and day out. The people who come into their world linger for a short time, and then are only too happy to get away and back home to familiar surroundings.
So, there I was, back into the world of doctors, nurses and a myriad of technical people that work to keep us well, repair what is broken and send us back out into the world, hopefully healed, or at least on the path of wellness! There was much to do before they would do this surgical procedure. There are tests and a myriad of questions one is bombarded with pre-surgery.
I have been fortunate in that the only real problem I have had over the years is a wonky thyroid that needs medicating. Over they years, when I have had to change doctors because I moved across the country, they ask about other medications I am taking. When I say that I’m taking no other medications, they look at me, baffled that I could have reached my advanced age and am not lumbered with a dozen medications to deal with any number of problems.
The doctor, who would be doing my surgery, asked me four or five times if I was sure I wasn’t on blood thinners or other drugs. Being perfectly cognizant of the medications I take every day, I assured him each time that I was not taking any blood thinners or anything else of a prescribed nature. Also I assured him that I was not on any un-prescribed medications either. He persisted in asking about blood thinners, so I informed him that my blood coagulates quite nicely and normally. He looked like I had just tried to sell him a bridge or Florida swamp land. Is it so rare to have reached the middle ages and still remain nearly drug free in our society? I’m very grateful that I’m reasonably healthy!
Then the big day loomed closer and closer, it was time to be scheduled into the operating room. My first time was 6:00 am. I do hate to get up at O-dark-thirty, because I believe it is too rude to get up before the sun. However, I got a call a little later telling me that I had been moved back to 9 am. Then, again, another call informed me that I needed to be there at 11:00 am. Well, I have to admit, that tried my patience one too many times, and I let them know that it was not all right to keep bouncing my time, as there were other people’s schedules to consider in order to get me there since I was not going to be allowed to drive myself home.
They were nonplussed that I would dare to complain. They called me back and gave me an earlier time again. To me, it made them appear as if they didn’t have a clue about what they were doing as far as ability to schedule. Then there was always the ever present possibility that an emergency would call the doctor away, and all surgeries would be cancelled. Thank goodness there were no emergencies. The nurses were wonderful, and the doctor came to make sure he was really going to operate, and on what part. He marked it with a pen, so he wouldn’t get mixed up by the time he got me on the table. It is all for insurance reasons, since somewhere, sometime a doctor operated on the wrong person or part.
The trip to the operating room was short, and all too soon the drugs took their effect and I was out! They gave me some oxygen, and I remember many years ago that the doctor told us that if my grandmother (in hospital and on oxygen because of emphysema) got too cranky, turn up the oxygen and she would sleep. Well, it worked on me too. Zap.
I was out, and pleased to be so, because I really didn’t want to be cognizant for the operation. I woke, knowing time had passed, just not how much of it. Nurses checked on me, still a little hazy, but coming back to reality quickly. After they thought I was sufficiently able to function they got me up and shipped me home, stopping only to pick up major pain killers.
The healing process has been interesting to deal with. I was amazed at the stiffness that took over the joint. That was what I had to work against with exercise and movement to get the knee back to normal. There were days when I truly identified with the Tin Man of Oz who got caught in a rain storm. I needed the oil can of healing to work some magic on the stiffness that was reluctant to give up its hold on me. I persisted, and it was like the fog in San Francisco suddenly lifting, the stiffness, well at least most of it, was gone!
As a writer, everything can be a form of research. This journey may, in some way, appear in a book one day. Though I am still wondering how I can work in my other hospital experience that happened when I was in my early twenties. It was an experience that evolved more and more into a comedy routine, even though I was seriously ill. But that is another story entirely!