Friday, April 21, 2006

HOSPITAL (Part 1)

THE CRYSTAL METHOD, FREEZING HOMOPHOBES, AND POOR NEIGHBORHOOD BOY


I am convinced that humor can be found everywhere, even amidst the direst of situations. One need only open their heart and mind to the joy humor has to offer at any given moment in order to witness this truth firsthand. You may ask what case in point I hold in my memory to make such a bold claim—what if I told you I was laughing my ass off in the Neurological ICU after having a 6-hour reconstructive surgery on my cervical spine. It’s true; I was laughing my ass off—but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning:

On July 29, 2005, I awoke to the wretched smell of my cat’s breath as she lovingly licked my eyelids and forehead. This was her passive-aggressive way of letting me know it was time to get up and feed her. As I lifted my head off the pillow, I felt and heard a ‘pop’ by my left shoulder blade. Immediately thereafter, a sharp pain shot down my left arm. I waited in anticipation for my upper body to entirely kink up; it never did. I sat motionless, reflecting on how different this pain was compared to other pinched nerves I’ve had—and I’d had lots of them, especially since being hit by a car in 1997. What I found the most curious was the fact that my left side was in pain, and not my right side, which was normally the case.

Reaching for my phone, I pushed the cat off the bed and then speed-dialed my mom at work.

“Hello. Dr. McCurdles office, how may I help you?”

“Mom…it’s happened again…,” I whispered, afraid that applying any sort of volume to my voice would exacerbate the pain shooting down my arm.

“What happened again?”

“’Pinched nerve in my back.”

“Well, you know what to do. Just take your muscle relaxants.”

“No…mom…it’s different this time. My back isn’t kinked up. It’s strange. It’s totally different. I heard a ‘pop’, and now I have this shooting pain down my left arm—but nothing’s kinked up.”

“Well, what do you want me to do?” she inquired, sounding helpless.

“I don’t know.”

___________

I was a complete nut while awaiting my emergency cervical spine surgery. Martha, my Neurology/3rd floor roommate, was 83 years old. She’d suffered a mild stroke and was awaiting for the last of her test results in order to be released. I can guarantee that the three days she spent with me were the worst days of her life. I was flying on Hydromorphone, Percocet, and a slew of other meds that were either being pumped into my veins or shoved down my throat. This translated into me sweating my ass off—even when the air conditioner was cranked all of the way up—and me talking non-stop.

At first, Martha was very cordial and inviting. She seemed to enjoy my conversation. It wasn’t until after about three hours of making my acquaintance that she began to pull the curtain that separated our beds. I tried to maintain conversation—regardless of the curtain—by asking her what she was watching on the TV. She was watching the Tony Danza talk show. I turned on my TV and decided upon watching the Ellen Degeneres show. Martha asked what I was watching.

“I’m watching Ellen Degeneres. I love her sense of humor. Do you like her?” I asked.

“No. She’s a homosexual. I wouldn’t watch her if you paid me a million bucks.”

I was able to deduce from Martha’s simple reply that sharing information regarding my personal life would not be such a good idea.

Martha made it clear that she thought I was a very kind person, but made it even more clear that she didn’t want to listen to my Percocet-induced ramblings all day. As soon as I’d open the curtain to talk to her, she’d pull it shut once more. That was fine with me; my parents had brought in my portable CD player and a slue of extra batteries. For the next day and a half, my ears were bombarded with The Crystal Method’s incredible fusion of dance beats and everything that’s cool in rock; I couldn’t get enough of their electronic hypnosis. The driving beats relentlessly pounded in my head. I knew first-hand what it was like to listen to techno while tripping out on foreign substances. In my case, the drugs were legal, and, what’s more, they kept me from screaming in agony.

The pain shooting down my left arm was so severe, that even a shot of Hydromorphone every 6 minutes wasn’t enough to ease the pain. Not only were earphones continually plugged into my ears, but also I cannot seem to remember a time when I wasn’t clutching an ice pack to my left upper arm. I remember writhing in pain; moaning so much that Martha had to turn up her TV.

Given Martha’s age, it wasn’t surprising to me that she was always cold. Now, picture a nearly freezing to death 83 year old coupled with a 36 year old who was perpetually overheating due to meds. The air conditioner was the cause of great distress; I wanted it turned up to 10 and Martha wanted it thrown out the window. Martha was older than I was, and I respected that fact enough to let her think that she could keep the air conditioner set at the level she thought appropriate. She would always adjust the ‘Cool’ level on her way to the bathroom. As soon as I heard the bathroom door click shut, I would fly out of bed and run over to the air conditioner, once again turning it up full blast. The fact that my neurosurgeon said that a simple slip on the floor could mean permanent paralysis (due to the disc problems in my spine) meant nothing to me then; I was only living for the moment!

Martha’s kids would come to visit her and I would hear her explain to them that no matter how much she turned the AC down, it was always freezing in the room. Her daughter was kind enough to bring her a crocheted blanket from home, which eased my pain of having to run over to the AC while Martha was peeing.

____

The funny thing about my stay in the Neurology Department while awaiting my cervical spine surgery was that I didn’t realize how much I was talking incessantly. To me, everything was normal. It wasn’t until after my surgery that people came out of silence to come clean about how manic, crazy, and annoying I was while awaiting to have my neck reconstructed.

My Uncle Bulldog, who hates to talk on the phone, says that I had him on the phone for 45 minutes. I had the secretary of my school on the phone for a half hour just to tell her that I would not be able to start the new school year as planned. Apparently, I told her my entire prognosis, as well as my entire medical history. I couldn’t believe the questions I was fielding from my boss and co-workers after my surgery. How did you know that? I would ask, only to be told—‘O, you told us that when you told us you wouldn’t be able to return to work until January.’

O crap, I thought—I wonder what else I told them!

The funniest story anyone has yet to tell me about my behavior while pre-op in the hospital had to do with my sister-in-law, Colleen: I was very excited to see that she had come to visit me during my second day on the Neurology floor. I was stoked that she brought Liev (7) and Megs (9), my niece and nephew. Colleen had also brought a neighborhood boy she was babysitting. I don’t remember his name. My version of the story is as follows:

Colleen arrives with the kids. They get me out of bed, walk me to the family meeting-area room, and I sit with the kids while Colleen goes to the gift shop to get me some magazines and a chocolate bar. Colleen comes back with the goodies, walks me back to the room, and says that she has to leave because she has to get some school work done for her new kindergarten teaching position. I couldn’t believe it: I could die while getting my neck ripped open by the docs and she comes and visits me for 10 MINUTES?? Jeez. What nerve!.

Colleen’s version of the story, which I concede is most likely closer to the truth than mine, goes something like this:

Colleen arrived in my hospital room with the three kids. I became exceedingly excited to see them all. I jumped out of bed, took off my bathrobe, and turned around to untangle the IV tubes from the gown—whereupon ‘neighborhood boy’ got a free glimpse of my bare backside, leopard skin patterned underwear and all. Colleen said sweat was running down my face and my hair was soaking wet. I looked at her, said, ‘Man, I’m cold!’, then threw my bathrobe back on, and hopped back in bed. I recall all three kids standing at the foot of the bed, just staring at me. I began to sweat again. I tried profusely to get the Hydromorphone drip to give me some more pain killin’ juice, but it hadn’t been 6 minutes since the last hit.

At this point, I noticed Martha was getting out of bed. Colleen said that my eyes lit up. I got up out of bed again and told her the story about how when Martha goes to the bathroom I sneak over to the air conditioner and turn the AC on full blast. Colleen said I was like a mad woman as I grabbed my Hydromorphone drip thingy and ran over to the AC. She was gritting her teeth, praying that I wouldn’t slip on the floor.

After I turned up the AC, Colleen, the three kids, and I all went to the family gathering room. I sat on a regular chair, only because I wasn’t quick enough to grab the recliner before ‘neighborhood boy’ did. Colleen said that I kept staring over at ‘neighborhood boy’s’ chair while she listened to me talking. When ‘neighborhood boy’ got up out of the chair to grab a magazine, she says that I jumped out of my chair and literally RAN over to the recliner, whereupon ‘neighborhood boy’ looked dismayed as I took the cool chair away from him.

“I need this chair,” I explained to him.

Colleen said that she stayed with me in the family room for an hour before asking me if I would like her to get me some chocolate and magazines from the gift shop. It seemed to me like it had only taken Colleen 3 minutes to get the items, but she says she was down there for at least twenty minutes.

Col and the three kids had visited me for well over 2 hours—that I experienced, due to the meds, as being 10 minutes tops.

Colleen said that she was never as terrified in her life as she was when I jumped out of bed to turn the AC up. All she kept picturing in her mind was me slipping and then spending the rest of my life in a wheel chair, or worse. She also commented several times that I had flashed ‘neighborhood boy’ my buttocks when turning around after taking the bathrobe off. She didn’t let me off too easily for talking her ear off for the entire hour and a half that we spent in the family gathering room.

____________

When I think of the pre-op time that I spent in the hospital, I think of The Crystal Method, turning up the AC regardless of poor homophobic Martha freezing to death, and accidentally flashing ‘neighborhood boy’ with my leopard skin underwear.

Well, at least I was wearing underwear during my pre-op stay; that’s more than can be said about my post-op experience!

To be continued…

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©2005 Marcy_Peanut. All rights reserved.




21 Comments:

Blogger Salbert said...

You should be glad that boy wasn't from YOUR neighborhood!

P.S. First to comment, YES!

5:21 PM  
Blogger marcy_peanut said...

Hi SALBERT!
This was a very long post, and it doesn't even contain the funniest part of my hospital stay, which occurred while in the Neurology ICU after my surgery. I just had to give you all some background as to why I was in the hospital in the first place.

Did you find this post to be as engaging as the previous ones?

And, yes, I'm SO glad that I didn't know who 'neighborhood boy' was. I'm sure he had a great time telling his buddies about my leopard skin undies!!!

Cheers ;)
Marcy_Peanut

6:58 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo said...

Old people are always cold because the soylent green people are always harvesting their heat nodes.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Salbert said...

This was a very good post, but my favorite was the bakery post. I can't wait to hear part 2 of the hosptial though!

9:00 PM  
Blogger monsoongirl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:06 AM  
Anonymous arunlekha said...

really funny post
i am so scared of old ppl toh!
i think all of them wil think i am weird and hate me, and strangely older ppl have less inhibitions about saying so.

4:09 AM  
Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

Ah yes, better living through chemistry. I know it well! I think it safe to say that the dope they give you in the hospital makes the street drugs look down right tame by comparison, but I digress.

I had a "morphine button" in post op once, but mine was set for every ten minutes. Now I'm pissed... I didn't know I could get it set to deliver more frequently. I find it interesting how, when pain medication is readily available, the pain is more pronounced. Hmmm...

Anyway, great story, as per usual!

~Mike

12:53 AM  
Blogger mizfit said...

ah! humor even at the time of pain. i admire u for that.

i was trying to visualise ur leopard skin patterned underwear thru the eyes of the young, innocent and certainly horrified kids. ::lol::

u take care, ok? and do post part 2 soon...u mentioned it's funnier. how and how much more, i wonder...

2:47 AM  
Blogger TrappedInColorado said...

Missed you. Welcome back. I guess having major surgery is a good enough excuse for being gone so long. I'll let you off easy this time. :)

I assume the surgery went well due to the fact that you posted at all.

Looking forward to part deux.

Peace

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Last Girl On Earth said...

Doesn't seem right that you should have a roommate with such an age difference. But thank goodness you have a great sense of humor. Looking forward to part 2!

1:53 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Ha ha! Now we know that with Marcy, we won't need sodium pentothal. ;)

Never had surgery. Knock on wood. I can sympathize though.

As for Ellen, never saw her show. She seems like such a nice lady though, you know, someone you'd just want to give a big hug to. No idea if she's funny or not though.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Salbert said...

I check Amazon all the time to see if you've written a memior Marcy!

9:05 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

Hi! i haven't visted you for a while i see you are still your jolly ole self.

I also remember my fond stay in the hospital pumped up on morphine. My roomate had a morphine pump(lucky girl) I just got shots in the ass (bad veins)
Yep, we were the best of friends for three days straight. We promised to stay in touch. Never did.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Gyrobo said...

I'm still sticking to my soylent green theory.

9:07 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Marcy - I was thinking about you today. One of the guys at work was talking about in the military, you call a woman who's an officer "Sir!" and I thought of Marcy, then I thought of you. Too funny.

Now, where's our latest post? I'm missing your humor.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Happy T. Fluke said...

A captivating narrative!

Dept. H has been experimenting with drug-induced time travel for years, but to no avail.

Or maybe they're just telling everyone that it doesn't work, and flying high through the 4th dimension in their off hours.

10:36 PM  
Blogger marcy_peanut said...

HI everyone!
Believe it or not, I spent another week in the hospital in May, and then made two subsequent visits to the ER since then.
I'm starting to feel a little better now, and I PROMISE that one of these days I will find the time and energy to write
HOSPITAL PART 2. It's a totally hilarious account of what I went through in the Neurology ICU after my three-level spinal fusion.

Please be patient!

PS Does anyone know a book agent that you can hook me up with????

thanks!
Love,
Marcy_Peanut

10:53 PM  
Blogger Salbert said...

Seems I didn't miss much....

1:31 PM  
Blogger Roboshrub Incorporated said...

Have you ever spoken with Bhakti? She also had her spine repaired.

She's an honorary cyborg. Is there any metal in your body, due to surgury or otherwise? I could probably pass the same certification on to you.

12:38 AM  
Blogger marcy_peanut said...

Hi Roboshrub-- I AM Bhakti. Seriously. I have two blogs.
I am trying to get Gyrobo to help me build a website for JAIBHAKTI that will incorporate all of my writings, perhaps including this stuff.

Note to everyone,I haven't been writing lately because I have been going through lots of thinking about what it was like growing up gay--in the serious light--not in the funny light. Therefore, I haven't had much of a penchant for writing about the funny stuff...for now! I have half of Hospital part two written already.

Please be patient.
I write when I can,and when the spirit moves me.

PS Roboshrub, thanks for the offer.

Marcy_Peanut

1:43 AM  
Blogger R2K said...

: )

10:37 PM  

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