Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's Going On Here?

I want to note the passing of Dan Fogelberg, a noted songwriter and singer from the 70's and 80's, most notably for the song "Leader of the Band", a beautiful song in memory of his father. Mr. Fogelberg died of prostate cancer at the age of 56. What surprised me is that prostate cancer is one of the cancers with the highest cure rate of any cancer if there is early detection of the cancer. By the time a man hits the age of fifty, once a year his doctor says those famous words, "bend over". I don't know what they tell women when it's time for a mammogram, but I imagine their blood runs cold too.

Ordinarily, my doctor lets a student from Georgetown come in and do the work up on things like a physical. My doctor outweighs me by 90 pounds and played starting right side tackle on the Notre Dame 1963 National Championship Football Team. He is the one that sticks his finger up my ass. Not some poor kid that I might accidentally put through the wall. Me and the doc came to an understanding years ago that I really wasn't gay, nor was I bi-curious, although I am open minded.

When I was in my doctoral program, one of my professors, Dr. Paul Bloom, wrote a speculative piece published in the Journal of Marketing, that posed the question, "what if Science fails us?" In the mid 70's, the popular, and even educated belief was that Science was going to cure Cancer, just like it had cured polio in the 50's, it was just a matter of time. This is one of those childish delusions you learn to give up as you grow up and realize that the World is not the perfect place you once dreamed it was, and saying, "I know I can" three times wasn't really the magic charm, not that I don't still try.

The reason I am going through all this is that I have two herniated discs in my lower back. So, when Crankster's sister Ella went into surgery on the 21st of December, I figured, why not. Since I had put the Existential Fix in for her, I might as well ride on her coattails. So I booked an MRI, followed up by surgery. I may be open minded, but a herniated disc inching its way up my spinal canal is another item not included in things I am open minded about.

I consulted my cadre of medical specialists, namely Wicked H, who secretly runs all of the medical services on the Eastern Seaboard and the Maritime Zones, not to mention the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island; and Wandering Girl, leading authority of medical technology, physical therapy, and interior decoration, headquartered in Southern Virginia, available to the entire World. Please note, the two operating room nurses shown below are neither Wicked H nor Wandering Girl. They are two of the actual operating room nurses who actually carved me up like a Thanksgiving turkey after I loosened up the anaesthesiologist with some of my best operating room humor.

Next, I needed a pickle-loving neurological genius and surgeon to boot. Naturally, Dr. Nathan Moscowitz was just waiting for the opportunity to open up my back and fix me up and send me on my way since I knew where to find perfect half done dill pickles. We both had positive mental attitudes, and were naturally likable fellows. A perfect match.

I was right at the part where M@ was running past this guy when the lights went out. No wonder the nurses were laughing. They knew I'd never finish what I had started, and it really had nothing to do with M@ (sorry M@). The next thing I understood was that I was lying on a tennis ball (which was my back where the surgery had occurred) and as I became conscious, a nurse came over and they gave me two percosets, which I took. As it kicked in, I asked about the strange pain in my side. Apparently, I had cracked a rib on the operating table. Instead of going home later in the day, I was now being held over to the next day for pain management. Somewhere, deep inside beneath the drugs, I knew what this meant. But I have to admit that it was buried underneath of six and a half feet of I don't give a shit. Percosets can have that effect when you haven't really come out of anesthesia yet, and they don't want you to really know what kind of pain you're really in.

The real piece d'resistance came at three am (3 AM). Ann, the Best Nurse to Ever Walk Planet Earth, came in and said that the doctor had written an order for morphine. Since she knew that I was diabetic, and had talked to me about the true appreciation of someone else giving you a shot in a place you can't reach so you're not giving yourself a shot in the same places again, she explained what a subcutaneous shot was, and then she gave me one with the morphine. And I slept like a child with no pain for four (4) hours. It may not be what the drug addicts are after, but I was absolutely in heaven, sleeping with no pain. Pure Belgian dark chocolate. I promise, I'm going to buy her a box of classy chocolate and take it back to her. she deserves it!

Judy came to the hospital to get me, and just to "keep me manageable", the new nurse automagically gave me two more percosets so I could go home. The drive home is when my wife explained to me what actually happened. It seems that the disc that ruptured in 1996 and had leaked out and up into the spinal canal had calcified and turned to stone. My good friend the surgeon had evidently never needed to use a hammer and chisel to remove stone from a spine before, nor has he read of it anywhere. He also got my spinal canal unplugged. He had been worried that the sciatic nerve had been trapped for so long that it wouldn't work correctly (stop hurting and burning). The odds were 1 in 3 it wouldn't work. We had all computed that the good result was 2 in 3 about as fast as the other two (Judy was there, Judy is always there). The Doc knew after the operation. It was probably two weeks before I realized that my leg worked differently.About the same time that it took to realize that I wasn't using an alien tongue to eat with.

There still is no cure for cancer, Dan Fogelberg just died of the most curable cancer, prostate cancer, I'm still pulling for Ella and won't stop for anything or any reason, I have a cracked rib that's healing for being a big person who spent a lot of time face down on a rack in an operating room while a neat guy chiseled a stone out of my spine, and I found a neat place to get a deli combo of hot corned beef, pastrami, cole slaw and mustard on rye. Y'all come visit now, y'hear!


Alison said...

Hey there!

AmyTree said...

Wow! That is quite a story - get well soon my friend.

The CEO said...

That little piece took me three weeks to write.. As I can sit longer, the more blogging I'll be able to do. On the other hand, I'm back!

Glamourpuss said...

Blimey. What a way to start the New Year. Here's to a speedy recovery.


MJ said...

I am so glad that you got that taken care of .. what a story !! I was wondering where you were.. It is time to heal.. take care of your body.. Can you get back into Tai Chi ? It is good to have you back my friend

Claudia said...

Whoa, you've had a go of it, haven't you? Good to hear you're healing and doing better.

Open Grove Claudia said...

I wondered where you were. I hope the surgery helps get you moving again. Movement is such a big part of my life.

You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Wicked H said...

I am telling you Bro, you honestly don't have to tax every medical specialist on the Eastern Seaboard and Maritime Zones. Now, Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn could use all the taxing you've got.

A simple in and out diskectomy was ordered and just to test everyone, your Surgeon had to whip out the ole chisel and hammer. I hope you appreciate the time and effort it took to get those precious tools to him on time. I PROMISE, I had nothing to do with the cracked rib. I think the chisel slipped and well you don't need to know the details.

If you are in need, I can hook you up with a Dilaudid drip but only because I heart you.

I really miss the "Leader of the Band" may he rest in peace.

You better be folowing the Docs orders, I've got peeps you know.

Will call and check up on you soon.

Love to Judy.

WanderingGirl said...

If by "consulted WG" you really meant "we talked about this LAST YEAR and she didn't actually know I was having surgery in December" then that's an accurate account.

I am glad you had it done. I am more glad that you are having improved feeling in your leg. I am most happy that you are back!!!

Nosjunkie said...

whooooohooooo glad to see that your back at the blogging thing

WNG said...

Wow! WOW! Your outlook on life in this post is exactly what I'm striving for. Get better soon, CEO and many hugs to Judy!

Stone? Really, stone??? Wow.

The CEO said...

Hey, Alison.

T'ai chi starts in Feb, Amy!

I'm not as good as you, Puss, but I'm working on it.

MJ, the first comment I wrote was on your blog, you're that high on my reading list.

Keep taking pictures Claudia, I love your work!

OG, I could read you all day long!

Wicked, soon,let's do it soon.

WG, you said exactly the same thing with more words.

Lee, I missed you too.

Wng, come live with us, then you get Judy every day! Works for me!

Echomouse said...

You're the only person I've ever read who can make surgery like this entertaining. :)

I'm really glad you're home healing and through the worst of it. Be careful with that rib!

Get well soon but don't push for too soon! {Hug} :)

M@ said...

Ahhh, that was a test to see if I'd read your entire post! :)

Interesting story. Man, it amazes me every now and then that I take my health for granted and that we're still sitting ducks to not only degenerative disease but infectious disease. We're living the caveman life, in many respects.

Crankster said...

Fantastically good news, Monty! An amazing story--I'm so glad that you came through it in one piece!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Well see, that is exactly why I have never taken my herniated disks to an operating room. I do hope the results are wonderful and quickly outweigh all the pain.

I feel terrible about Dan Fogelberg, too. Flip knew him and he was a great guy who was always kind to everyone he met.

It's hard to imagine why someone who could afford good medical care would die of something that is often curable, so we have to assume that his cancer was not.

Odat said...

I'm sorry to hear you went thru all this!!! Here's to a great recovery and hope you're back on you feet and eating chocolate every day!!! (Well ok, once in a while)....(thanks for your thoughts and prayers too) You'll be in mine now! Hugssssssssssss!

My Reflecting Pool said...

Oh dear. I had no idea. Glad you are well and recouping! Good ole Judy. You are one lucky guy!

Echomouse said...

Hope you're okay. Just popping in to check. I know it's a hellishly busy time of year for you professionally too. Just want you to know you're in my thoughts.