Monday, January 8, 2007

Comparing Scars, Chapter Two

A promise is a promise, so here goes with Part Be of Friday's story. Cue the 4 minute filler of flashbacks to last week's episode, narrated by The Movie Trailer Guy and featuring scary music and DAH dit Duuuuuuuuh! orchestra hits when the cliffhanger is shown again... So, I needed to find a surgeon. I went back to my friend and asked about the next step. He again scribbled a name on paper and sent me on my way. I found the office downtown, and took the elevator up to the 4th floor. After a reasonable wait, I was ushered into a cookie-cutter exam room. The nurse gave no instructions, just pulled the door shut behind her. My cell was furnished extravagantly, with an adjustable paper-covered exam table (with the optional pull-out step stool and heated stirrups - ask me how I know), a hand sink, the fun little swivel stool, and a hard, magazine encrusted park bench. After tiring of making balloon animals with the exam gloves, I tried to make myself comfortable with Better Homes Than Yours on the bench. Hours turned into days, and eventually a nondescript clerk-looking man burst into the room. He read my name off a chart, and I offered a friendly handshake. He looked at me as though I were presenting a freshly pressed turd, and gripped the chart defensively. Well, this is a fine way to begin a meaningful relationship, I thought. He nodded toward the exam table, and I obediently hopped up. Silently, he grabbed my hand and again I got the flipper-wiggling, finger-twisting inspection. He had me squeeze a squeeze-o-meter, and do a little range of motion exercise. He scribbled something in his chart, nodded in my general direction, and left. Just like that, in under 3 minutes and 10 words, he disappeared. I sat there momentarily, wondering if there was more to this circus, and if there was, when do I get to see the monkeys? After a few minutes, I poked my head out the door and took a brave step into the hall. I found the reception station, and asked the nearest person what I should do next. She looked as though she was between auditions for Jabba the Hutt's body double. "Who's your doctor?" she gurgled brusquely. "Dr. Moppett," I replied. She rolled her eyes and pushed her heroic chair back from the desk. Grumbling and staggering on impossibly short legs, she waddled over to a pocket file on the wall. "Damn Moppett can't drop a chart on my desk to save his life, the blanketyblank motherfather bastard, blank." She found my paperwork and added up my total. Cha-CHING! $40 for me, and $160 for my insurance for this "consultation." I avoided doing the math, because I knew it would not help my teeth-grinding. I was pretty sure, however, that was a metric assload of dollars per minute. She flipped open a calendar, and told me I would be having surgery in two weeks, first thing in the morning, and don't eat anything after midnight the night before. I took my papers and shuffled out, instilled with confident joy that my problem had a solution. The big day finally arrived, and I walked into the hospital ready to be fixed. No, wait, not fixed. Repaired is the word I'm looking for. I was fitted with a professionally tailored hospital gown, with three sets of drawstrings. I complained that the color was all wrong, but the nurse secretly flipped me the bird and told me to deal with it. I came out of the green room ready for the big event, and was shown to one of a row of beds. The anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself. He was a large, friendly man with great bushy eyebrows and a strong handshake. He said he'd do his best to keep me asleep and not kill me. I appreciated that. He left the room, and Mrs. Spiffy and I sat talking idly. A guy shuffled in, looking around aimlessly while nurses chatted by their desk. I noticed he was standing about 10 paces away, staring at us. I asked, "Can I help you?" "Make sure you mark which arm you want me to work on," he said abruptly. The recognition circuits started firing in my head. This was the man who was going to perform some healing magic on me. "Oh, hi Dr. Moppett! I didn't recognize you without the lab coat. This is Mrs. Spiffy," I said, trying to be friendly. He snapped his head to the right, scanned her face, her butt, and her chest, then walked out of the room. We looked at each other and shrugged. I hoped that all his missing people skills were focused into his sawing and sewing hands. I enthusiastically wrote 'This One!!' surrounded by arrows on the correct arm, and 'Do Not Enter' on the other. In great big block letters. Dr. Eyebrows returned, collected a nurse, and shooed Mrs. Spiffy to the waiting room. He chatted with me as fluorescent lights passed overhead, telling me about his fishing exploits and golf game. We arrived in a frigid meat locker, with all kinds of equipment, beeping monitors, whirring machines, hoses and wires dangling everywhere. I was centered under the big surgical lamps, and Dr. E started an IV. He went on talking happily about this and that, and said, "By the way, you may taste metal. I'll see you when you wake up." I giggled groggily, smacking my lips at the flavor of tin, and melted into silence. The only sensation I can recall is the utter chill in my well marked arm. I awoke seconds later in the recovery room. I was comfy, pain free, and ready to go home. I began to sit up, and only then did I notice the family of swine sitting on my chest. The room darkened, I heard squealing behind my ears, and occasionally a little pink piglet would do a breaststroke around my field of vision. I made a mental note to find out what kind of drugs these were, and see if they could be found on my local streetcorner. Eventually the loopy visions faded, to be replaced by dull, throbbing pain. The checkout nurse plopped a packet of instructions and prescriptions on my belly and told me to get dressed because they had someone waiting for my bed. We were finally in our littlebitty Geo, buzzing up the highway. It was summer, and I was laying my head back trying to drink in the last of the really good hallucinations. My right arm was propped on the open windowsill, and I was enjoying the summer breeze. Girl, in the back seat, realized her door wasn't latched properly. She waited until we stopped at a red light, opened her door, and slammed it. Neither she nor I noticed that my fingers had slipped between the door and the jamb when she opened it. Suddenly, my left arm didn't hurt so much. I let out a moan like a birthing cow, knowing that I would soon be sporting multi-colored fingers. Girl felt terrible, and apologized profusely. I told her it was ok, and not her fault - but she may have to feed me my gruel since neither hand would be working for a while. A couple weeks later, I went for my follow up appointment with Dr. Personality. He removed my stitches, and asked me what kind of insurance I had. "Why do you ask?" I asked. "Oh, no reason. Just need to get you set up for physical therapy," he mumbled. "Funny you should mention that... See, I was just downsized the day after the surgery. I don't have insurance anymore." Suddenly, the appointment was over. He said I should go across the hall for scar-care instructions. I came in while the therapist was finishing up with another patient. She helped him apply some cream and a special pad to his incision site, wrapped it, and explained how to take care of it until she saw him again next week. He left smiling, and I was invited to sit. As we were introducing ourselves, Dr. Moppett leaned in the doorway and shouted, "No insurance!" and raced down the hall. We looked at each other awkwardly. She cut a little square out of a silicone pad and handed it to me with an Ace bandage. "Here. Keep this on if you don't want your scar to be ugly. Good luck." And with that, our business was finished. My souvenir of the experience is a great conversation starter. Usually, people will come up to me and ask where I got my arm and who sewed it on. I just smile, knowing that at least I can roll down my windows if I want to.

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