The Golden Years
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The Spectator
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 by Laramie Boyd
2013 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
         The date is June 17, 2013. I've been waiting patiently, and sometimes not so, for about 7 weeks now. Four weeks just to get in to see the doctor, and 3 weeks for the procedure. I'll be getting my second hernia surgery. The wait was not fun: no golf, no lifting, not even moderate stretching or body effort of any sort. Seven weeks is a long time to sit around and do nothing but read, watch the boob tube, and unfortunately, raid the ice box. And the road this hernia operation took was not an easy one, nor an expected one. Ups and downs, highs and lows. A real trip.
         I showed up at the 7:45 assigned time and checked in at the counter, and was assigned to an intake interviewer. I answered the usual questions, "Any allergies, taking any medication, list recent surgeries, age, person to call in an emergency, and so forth?
          After stripping down and donning the revealing back-open gown, they put me on a gurney and shoved me into the surgery waiting room. And I waited. Pretty soon a masked nurse, I hoped she was a nurse anyway, came by to give me some general statements about the procedure, and only a couple of the usual questions: "any allergies, medication and who'll drive you home?" As she shuffled off, a gentleman showed up and identified himself as the anesthesiologist. The one who would "put me under", I hoped down far enough.
         Next thing I knew I was awake, wide eyed and alert. I was elated, because I was allowed to head for home in short order. That meant no hospital overnight bedtime.
         Back home, I immediately jumped in bed and had a 2 hour nap. Then a snack: some watermelon, scrambled eggs, strawberry jello, and finished it off with some DQ (Dairy Queen for the uninformed), attended by hot fudge and nuts. The dessert was a little bizarre, I know, but that's what I felt I deserved. Then it hit me! With every breath I took I felt a deep, agonizing pain in my chest area. To me it was the old "elephant sitting on my chest" pain. It wouldn't go away no matter what. I told my wife that I had to do something, go somewhere, to alleviate the pain. She then walked into the kitchen, came out, handed me a TUMS, and said "Take that. You'll feel better." The smirk I gave her must have sunk in deep, as she suggested we go to the Urgent Care Center, an Eisenhower Medical out-patient center nearby. So we hopped in the car and hoped to get a handle on what was happening to my body.
          The place was empty, so we hurried to the check-in counter and, again, got the usual questions; "Recent surgeries, age, etc?" And some of the same tests, blood work, EKG, and more. Their diagnosis was the dreaded heart attack. Not just heart burn, or indigestion, something a TUMS or ROLAID would relieve, but a problem with the ticker. Nothing you want to hear, for sure. The men giving the tests said I needed to be taken to Eisenhower Medical for further evaluation and treatment that they couldn't provide. I needed an ambulance. As they were about to call for one, a 911 ambulance drove in to pick up another emergency case. But it turned out that I was the more severe patient, so I trumped for the ride to Eisenhower. That was half good, half bad news for me.
         The ambulance pulled into the Emergency space at Eisenhower and again I was promptly slid onto a gurney and rolled into a treatment area. Again, the usual questions: "Any allergies, medication, surgeries and so forth? I began to see a pattern. And the tests were repeated, only more. Two cat-scans, given by being shoved into a donut shaped device for two two-minute screenings. And two X-rays, looking for a faulty heart, a blood clot, or some other demon. Their diagnosis was welcome news, though. No heart attack! Rather, as a result of the hernia procedure, some of the gas they pumped in me to enlarge the abdomen cavity to make it easier to work on the hernia, all of that gas had not dissipated, and it had built up pressure on the lungs, making it hard for me to breath. I was certainly elated over that news.
         I spent the rest of the day and night in a room they transferred me to for regular patients for observation. With all the nurses in the room making preparations for my stay and reports being made ready for the Doctors, the room wasn't quiet until midnight, so along with an IV set up to account for any body dehydration, a clothespin finger-insert to measure my heart rate, an EKG fulltime monitor, and a nose insert for oxygen for easier breathing, I decided to try to get some sleep. But then, I got some shocking news. One of the RN's working on the computer discovered some very bad news. At 11:00 P.M. that night, Monday night, while making some entries on her computer, the nurse, Hilda, came across an e-mail that said Dr. Gering had scheduled a second operation on my hernia the next day, Tuesday, to verify their findings about the chest pains. To say I was angry and dumbfounded would be slighting the way I felt. I wasn't anxious to see the Doctor the next morning to find out what was going on. I knew I wouldn't take his news kindly. Who would? Why was he going in a second time, really?       
         I stayed awake Monday night 'til 5:00 A.M., going over and over in my mind why such a procedure would be re-scheduled. Then I fell asleep. But, at 5:10 A.M., a nurse shows up, shakes me 'til I wake up, and tells me she needs some blood. At that point, I crawled out of bed, got all the wires and tubes unleashed, and headed across the hall to the Men's Room. A welcome place to relax after a "long day's journey into the night."
         Dr. Jodoin, my family doctor, came by on Tuesday morning. I thanked him for taking time out to visit me. He then assured me that I would be going home that day, that Dr. Gering was satisfied with my progress and that there was no need for a second procedure. Dr. Gering showed up moments later, said a brief hello, then echoed what Dr. Jodoin had said, and told me he would begin the check-out procedure right away. At the time it didn't make sense, but for some strange reason, not once did I mention the apparent foul up on what the RN said she found on the computer about a second operation. Maybe it was a computer glitch. Maybe the RN was pulling my chain. Anyway the good news calmed my unfounded fears about a second surgery. And so, back home again I went. And now, after 32 hours without sleep, I couldn't be happier about the turn of events. It was a long, hard day and night.