In Which They Slice Me Wide Open, and Other Tales Worthy to Relate (Part 4 of 4)
The nurse smiled down at me. "Are you ready to go, Mr. Basil?"
By this time I was more than ready to get going and get this affair over with. I nodded. "Yes ma'am, I'm ready to go."
Ann kissed me goodbye and a moment later the nurse was wheeling me down a narrow, brightly lit hallway. I lay on my back and watched the ceiling drift by. This was like so many medical dramas I'd seen on TV. All this scene needed was an idealistic young surgeon walking at the head of my gurney, pulling me along and shouting, "For God's sake, make way! We've got to get this man into surgery!" I would be moaning and thrashing my head from side to side as a gorgeous young nurse stroked my forehead and cooed, "It'll be alright, Basil. We're going to take good care of you." I was lost in my daydream, and as I suddenly came to, I noticed I had been wheeled into a room that was crammed with lights, gurneys, medical machines and curtains. The nurse parked me behind a curtain and left.
A moment later a lovely young brunette in a blue surgical scrub suit came up to me and started fiddling with my IV pole. "Hi there Mr. Basil. Are you ready to get started this morning?"
I wondered what she'd say if I suddenly shouted "Hell no! Let me outta here! I ain't letting you cut my backbone out!" Instead, I nodded at her. "Yes'm, I'm ready to get started."
"Good. We're going to make this completely painless. You'll go to sleep, and when you wake up we'll be all finished."
I turned my head and squinted at her. "How long to you think I'll be in there?"
"It depends. Normally, during an operation like this..."
I blinked. What the heck? My mouth was sore, my lips felt swollen and I was as thirsty as if I'd crawled across the Mojave Desert without water. Were they going to operate on me like this? Where was that nurse I was just talking too? I looked around. I was moving! My bed was rolling down a corridor, and I watched as an endless parade of fluorescent ceiling lights drifted past me. It must be surgery time, I said to myself. Man, I wish they'd let me have some water.
My bed stopped rolling. "Are we going into surgery now?" I asked. What was wrong with my voice? It sounded hoarse, as if I had a bad summer cold. My back was hurting too. Funny, it usually hurt when I was standing or walking. I blinked and rolled my eyes around, trying to get oriented.
"We're done, Mr. Basil. Your surgery is over and you're headed for surgical recovery," came a voice behind me.
Done! What the heck, I couldn't even remember going to sleep. I lay there licking my lips. Man, I wanted some water. I suddenly heard my daughter Mary's voice. "Hi daddy."
I opened my eyes and there stood Ann and Mary, grinning down at me.
"Hi, bay-buh," I croaked. "How's my bay-buh?"
"I'm fine daddy. How are you?"
I felt a big goofy grin stretch across my face. "I'm go-o-o-od. I sure am thirsty, though."
I closed my eyes, and when I opened them I was in a small room crammed full of nurses. I smacked my lips. "Could I possibly get a drink? God, I'm thirsty."
"Why, you sure can." A pretty young thing, all smiles and dimples, separated herself from the chattering group, toddled over to my bed, poured me a glass of ice water and handed it to me. "Can you hold this?"
I reached out, gripped the glass, and gulped down the coldest, tastiest glass of water I've ever had in my life. My lips hydrated, my throat opened and I sighed gratefully and lay back.
"Mr. Basil, is there anything else we can get you?"
"Yeah. How about some strong drugs and a taxi?"
They giggled. "Aw, Mr. Basil, you're gonna have to stay with us a couple of days."
I shifted around in the bed. Hey, something was going on here. I felt a little funny "down there", as if I had to pee. I lifted the covers. A catheter! Ye God, they'd stuck a catheter up my...
"Um, listen. Is this catheter thing really necessary? I mean, it's a little uncomfortable and all..."
Nurse Dimples smiled and leaned over me, all plush and soft-looking. She smelled like a fragrant spring flower garden. "We need to keep that in for a while. You just let us know if it bothers you, ok?"
"Hey, it bothers me." They all giggled again. I was glad someone in this cramped little closet was happy. I sure wasn't. "If I can't have that taxi, how about some of those drugs?"
The next couple of days were nightmarish. I rarely slept more than 15 minutes at a stretch and I kept the TV on the whole time. News, talk shows, VH1 -- I watched 'em all: anything to get my mind off the ache in my back. The nurses dosed me liberally with various painkillers, but nothing really seemed to get rid of the pain. I was forced to walk after one day, and I felt like a crippled octogenarian as I hobbled up and down the hallways with a walker while two solicitous physical rehab people tip-toed behind me ready to catch me at a moments notice. By the end of the second day I was terrifically bored with television, hospitals, nurses and my drab room, and was ready to go home.
I was allowed to go home at the end of that second day. As I painfully walked up the steps of my house, I looked around at my back yard, at the roses blooming, the Shasta daisies nodding their white heads in the breeze, the shade of the trees shifting on the ground as the wind moved through the high branches, and I thanked God that I was home.