April 12th, 2008


A surgical fiesta

"Go have a beer in the cafeteria. We'll call you when she's done."

That's one way to tell that you're in a Spanish hospital. Another is that your prescription instructs you to take medicine at midnight -- because what self-respecting adult goes to bed before then?

I got my "trigger thumb" operated on today, and on the whole things went not just fine but festively. My husband came with me to the hospital, which delighted the staff since I'd have help, but I wouldn't need him right away, so the nurse suggested he go have a drink.

They had me change into a green gown, plastic footies, and a hairnet that didn't accomplish much but no one seemed to care. In the operating room, they laid me down with my arms spread like a crucifixion. In one they put an IV.

"What's that?"

"Saline solution. You haven't been able to drink since this morning, so you probably need some fluids."

Well, yes, but an IV of beer would have been more fun.

After my doctor assured everyone that "she's as healthy as an apple," they painted my hand with antiseptic, shot it full of anesthesia, put a tight cuff on my forearm so I wouldn't bleed much, then hung up a sheet so I couldn't watch -- though it would been interesting. I felt a scratch that must have been the scalpel, then some tugging and prodding, finally pinpricks that must have been stitches. All they while, they chatted away like it was a cocktail party.

"Move your thumb," the doctor finally said. I did, though I couldn't feel it. "Good!" Apparently they didn't cut the wrong thing.

When they took down my sheet, my hand was rapped in gauze halfway up my forearm.

I spent a little while in a wheelchair draining the IV in a recovery room with some other patients and some cheery nurses. Then they called my husband, who helped me dress, and we took the subway home. By the time we arrived, the anesthesia had worn off, but I had a prescription for painkillers in my purse.

And there's beer in the refrigerator. I'm going to have one now. For medicinal purposes.

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    curious in stitches
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