Today I left work at noon to head over to Baylor Medical Center for a routine medical procedure. Nothing's really wrong with me. For various boring middle-age-comes-to-all reasons, I routinely have to screen for this or that.
I had to endure the customary "eat nothing for a millenium" as well as the "drink this every ten minutes" regime on Thursday night. I used the time to finish a novel, and reflect on why I did not choose cherry dusty tasting water instead of lemon dusty-tasting water to drink.
I looked up the directions to Baylor Medical Center. It's near three landmarks--the alternative music Deep Ellum clubs, the state Fair Park, and the ultra-conservative Dallas Theological Seminary. In my mind, the gestalt of those images amounts to something more useful than words, but needless to say, I will not try to choose words to describe it.
As the medical folks provided me with flyers which advised that I would be restrained from driving myself home, my wife came to my office to pick me up. We then drove down to the Truett Building. I had learned on the internet the Reverend Truett was an early 20th Century Baptist evangelist, who once raised enough to resolve a $ 93,000 Baylor University operating deficit in eighteen months. He later served as a pastor of First Church of Dallas, which could be the Vatican of the conservative wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, but for that turn of phrase being unduly popish.
Mr. Truett's building was pleasant enough, and we arrived at my appointment on time. We passed by post-impressionist prints of urban scenes in the hallways. I would have preferred stern Baptist deacons and photos of rural churches, but so it goes.
Although procedure appointments are in theory tightly scheduled, the customary needless delay ensued. It did not take that long, really, but I am always at at loss which it should take any real time at all. Still, I was soon changing into an array of hospital gowns.
A nice woman had me sit in a reclining chair, just across from a somewhat more middle aged man in another reclining chair. I thought about how in Heaven, they must have lots of boring people in reclining chairs.
She asked me if I had had an IV before, to which I replied "yes, a number of times". I am an old pro at the in-patient procedures. She took my right hand, and placed a needle in just on the backhand where such things go. I felt a moment of consternation when she summoned a co-worker over to try to explain the mild haematoma she had caused on my hand, but I felt some comfort when the other nurse advised her not to worry, as my hand would have puffed up "real big" had there been any "missed the target" problem.
I live in a mortal fear of needles, expressed to nobody but this journal (and hence, to the world) ever since I read the Dorothy Sayers mystery in which the murder weapon was the simple expedient of injecting the patient with an air bubble. I always think I will be bubbled into oblivion, which would not be so bad if we were talking about a Rapture of which Dr. Truett would approve while I was soaking in a tub of Mr. Bubble, but seems far less optimum if we are speaking of a bubble in the bloodstream. But I live a life of unexpressed imaginary fates,and kept my chin up.
The medicine she pumped into me had a nearly immediate euphoric effect, other than the nagging mild feeling that my skull plate was lifting, science fiction style, from around my head. Meanwhile, a television blared an advertisement for feminine products which had more information I did not need to process than the most shamelessly "too much information" LiveJournal post. I looked at the man across from me, who seemed, somehow, as if he were thawing out after being awakened from a deep-frozen state induced at a 1963 insurance executives' convention. The nurse and I exchanged pleasantries ("oh, you're a Razorback!", upon seeing my class ring), but otherwise I felt myself go quite literally comfortably numb.
Soon a nice woman named Leslie advised me that she was one of my nurses, and that she would take me to the procedure room. She gingerly walked my IV, with me attached, to a rolling thing, and had me lie on it, providing with a sheet upon which to lay. I watched people get wheeled by me as I wheeled by people. The sheer intrigue of hospitals and their ways always keep me fascinated. In another life, no doubt, I would have been Trixie Belden's imaginary boyfriend "RH". Parenthetically,I think that men and women with initial names like "JT" and "JJ" have a huge life's advantage over the rest of us.
We arrived at the procedure room. A second nurse, whose name escapes me, introduced himself. I spoke with my doctor, who is a bit younger than I am. I do not hold any old doctor/young doctor prejudices, or at least none that cause me to avoid either young or old, but he looked so darn cheery that I half wondered if this was all a hazing for fraternity rush. My doctor is a great guy, though. I reminded him of my tiny bit of past history which justifies these routine Brideshead Revisited moments, but he remembered already.
The nurse asked me if I was a doctor, because my signature features only an "R" and the first strokes of the "Jr". at the end of my formal name. We all made the appropriate jokes, and then they added the mild sedative to my IV drip. The procedure was a "conscious" procedure, and in the past, it's always been a kind of video show--not as gripping, say, as some Sci Fi Channel rerun of that Stephen King story in which gremlins chew up reality, but more gripping than most things on
the Lifestyle channel these days.
This time, though, the procedure seemed about to begin and then they were wheeling me away because it was over. That half an hour went by in what felt like 3 minutes. They wheeled me to a recovery room. I felt no pain, and no weariness. I just felt a bit under the influence of the medications. My wife came and sat with me. I explained to the nurse that I never even drink, much less use drugs, so I had to enjoy the euphoria as an almost vicarious kind of thing (although "vicarious" surely cannot be the right word when one is vicariously experiencing one's own life).
The doctor came with pictures to show that he had looked, and seen, and found someting rather uninteresting, and extracted, and that a test would determine merely if I needed to come back in five years or in ten. I found making word choice very difficult, and I remember trying to enunciate my chagrin to the doctor in lucid, measured tones. My wife told me later that I merely lucidly said three times: "I am so stoned", which caused her both concern and amusement, as she was not sure the doctor realized that I am perhaps the least likely person to get stoned never to have served in the United States Marine Corps. Still, after a good long while of "recovery", we were allowed to go. My wife drove us home.
We went tonight to dinner with our sister-in-law, and traded fond nephew stories and ate steaks. I broke a long fast with not only shrimp but also coconut cream pie.
I believe my brother elected to kill virtual wargs or similar evil-doers in a massive everQuest quest instead.
Tomorrow I hope to go to Denton to dulcimer group, if I can rouse my wife in time to drive the distance to my office to pick up my car so that I can head to Denton. Otherwise, I will play dulcimer and omnichord at home, and perhaps go fishing, a bit.
I never mind these medical things too much (though I can put them off sometimes), because I have had two members of my family develop cancer and one experience a tragic outcome from congenital heart disease in the past two years. Unlike the folks in socially conscious sitcoms who are always telling doctors off for not recognizing some disease-of-the-month-under-diagnosed-thi
But next time, I am getting a cherry flavored pre-surgical drink. Next time, I'm going to figure out a way to get to the procedure so that my car is not forty minutes away the next morning. Also, I'm going to suggest Yves Tanguy prints for the halls of that clinic--oh, and photos of scarecrows, and maybe stern Baptist deacons.