Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where theWife and Mikey take instruction

Recently we had the second of those life journey moments that typically involve having to find out more via a seminar at a hospital.

The first was before theBoy was born. It was a two-day birth-a-thon where we gathered with like-preggers plus partner—and yes, exciting, we had lesbians!—in a mid-sized lecture room. The two days involved dolls being pushed through pelvic bones, pleas for partners to bring swimmers if they were going to assist the soon-to-be-mum in the shower, and the showing of a pair of appalling birthing videos. Appalling for the dodgy production values. It looked like a mid-morning ’80s ABC documentary-for-school-kids you were sometimes forced to watch in primary school.

So the second life plus seminar from health people moment ... for when one of you endures a serious medical thing. An event so large you have to go to class and actually have fucking homework on it. For us our lecture was for the upcoming Fucking Catalina Wine Mixer—aka the hip operation.

The lecture kicked off with various enfeebled with impending joint replacements swarming geriatrically into the tier-seating filled auditorium (1). We went up the very back as we were clearly the most able people in the room. Well, in terms of age. We were the youngest, even out of the attending staff.

Some highlights of information learned and sights seen.

I will likely flood with tears on day three after the Op. The full reality of what has happened has set in; your meds are being dialed back; you will have to do unpleasant exercises.

The man in front of me, like me, had a balding crown. Though his was far larger—crop circle large. I half expected one of those scared-the-poo-out-of-me aliens from Signs to walk past the open door. He had a moderately short hair cut … only he’d failed to crop the wispy remnants that rose like spirits from a painting of a battlefield and were illuminated under the bright lights of the hall.

A portly middle-aged lady was proudly wearing a large jumper emblazoned with a giant AMSTERDAM. I kept whispering doobie references about her and making bong bubbling or toke-taking impressions when she arced up.

A non-footnoted aside. Have you noticed in a forum it’s always the same three fucking people that speak up? And some of them don’t realise they shouldn’t because they are lacking in emotional intelligence and thus don’t know when they’ve crossed people’s interest or annoyance thresholds.

Then there was hero man. Hero man objected to the sensible suggestion that during the whole joint replacement process chances are you would be on a anti-pain medication regime.

He started by saying he’d had two knee ops, and didn’t need meds afterward, and that anyway it’s mostly 'mind over matter.’

There was a ripple of disbelief through the crowd. After-all these people either had a joint that was about to be cut from their fucking body and gaping wounds sewn up afterward and endure a combination of discomfort and uber careful manuvering on their replacement joint and this fuckwit starts up by saying the pain … the pain that led them to do this do themselves, you know, the cutting out of their bodies vital joint parts, was ‘mind over matter.’

To their credit the coordinators said that everyone’s ‘pain journey’ was different and that the only people that would know how their pain was best managed for them or how they endured the intensity of said pain was that person. So basically they said ‘hey, whatever rocks your boat. You don’t need meds, fine. But chances are you will.’

And what will it be? Endone, baby. Hillbilly H. Apparently we can leave hospital with up to a whole packet to see us through the next few days. I’m as excited about that part as I was to experience the awesome joy that was my take-home bottle of Oxynorm from an op back in ’07.

There was the display of the kit that would be used just after the op and at home. One was a hip roller. It looked like the back half of the Hannibal Lecter transport trolley. They actually got one of the staff into it and rolled her on her side within the framework—used so they can get to your back and arse to clean you without your having to move your hip. Only they did it on a narrow counter top and she really looked like she could have been rolled all the way off it.

There was also the so-called "abductor pillow"—which is a large cushion that's wedged between your legs so you don't cross them your operation. I wanted to shout out 'I was once nearly kidnapped by a seat cushion—is it like that?' but I was too cowardly.

Oh yeah, there's also the hovercraft. Apparently when they shunt you onto an X-ray table from your bed, they do it via a pumped up mattress air cushion thing. Well that's just fancy. Which is good—I have an addiction to fancy.

Ah, yes, there was the late couple—there’s always one. In this case it was cataract man and lady wife. He was a heavy-set guy, in late middle-age but still with a healthy head of hair. He also had a large white eye-patch firmly surgically taped across his eye socket and face. With him was his presumed lady-wife. She explained he’d just had cataract surgery and they’d come straight from there to here. There were no seats left down the front … so instead they seated him on the display scooter that was by the door, his wife next to him on a pulled over chair. I couldn’t but help but look at them … largely because they were in front of the door. The very door we wanted to leave through.

It was, in the end, a two-and-a-half-hour seminar with one small ten minute break in the middle. theWife later pointed out that the intensity of the information and the duration of the ‘you’re having a joint replaced’ lecture was such that it was probably not that effective for the older set. She saw numerous people nodding off or spacing out. Fuck, even I did. But then my pen didn’t work and I’d had limited sleep the night before. All through it I kept fantasising about the sick room back at work, with its bed and inviting pillow, and promising myself that when I got to work … I’d slip away and meet it in a covert assignation.

During the break, though, we had a mini-chat with another hip-replacement person. She was a teacher, and had been down the joint replacement path before with no less than two knee ops. I asked if she set off the airport metal detector. She said no. Apparently titanium doesn't. I will have to scope that out! I was looking forward to just striding with Old Spice confidence through the blip blip gate and then holding with triumph aloft my letter from the doctor saying I was more machine than man. Well ... that I had some machinery inside me (2).

The information was needed, so I am glad we went (3). It does certainly seem all a bit more real now. At one point on the PowerPoint I saw a large word emblazoned on the screen—CATHETER—and I got a bit worried. After-all the lady-hole permits such things to entrĂ©e into the wee tube. Our man’s equiv … not so much. I piped up, notice the pun!, and asked about the process. She confirmed that yes, it would happen, but that it would be implanted during surgery so not to worry. I yelled ‘WOO HOO!’, Homer-style, which got a tiny ripple laugh.

So in five or so weeks it once more into the series of smaller rooms, dear friends, will I be again. Mole blind, trying to crack jokes with theatre staff and orderlies (4) and all the while trying to tamp down the fear of yet another operation.

Still, it could be worse. It could have been a life moment that needs a seminar at the hospital #4—'Me and my severe disability' or #5, 'Palliative care and you—blissing yourself out the door.'

(1) Yes the clinic was aware of the stupidity of having tiered seating for people about to get a joint operation. Alas it’s all they have access to.
(2) But that doesn't explain the condom... (that's for you, Nate).
(3) I was more glad theWife went. She’s a super-organised person and was a note taking demon. Oh, note to procedure information people. If you choose a glossy satin finish to your fancy-schmancy booklet about an operation, then I hope realise that the notes page you kindly leave opposite the inner back cover, is of the same stock-type. And it’s fucking hard to write on when you have a sketchy pen … or even a pencil, which is what we used in the end.
(4) Orderlies just seem to be the nicest guys. I've never come across an unpleasant orderly. And this is before I get dosed up. So I am going in fully compus when I meet them. Usually they're kind and they laugh at my feeble puns and weak observational humour (Cue Seinfeld voice. 'What's the deal with paper undies? I mean why do you need to access my penis that fast?').


  1. Anonymous2:54 PM

    I too like to crack jokes with the orderlies - similarly my experiences with them are the same. They laugh at my feeble attempts at puns, bad taste jokes, and the like. It doesn't seem to matter what time they take you to operation (I once had an emergency operation at 1:30am - incredibly lovely orderlies who still laughed at jokes).

    I'm glad that they have orderlies who have a sense of humour that take you to surgery - it would suck to have a dour, sad-sack.

  2. The orderlies I've met (I only remember a couple that weren't midwives) were awesome too, and laughed at my jokes. I wonder if they have a semester on that at uni?

  3. Do you need a university education to be a hospital orderly? Seems like an over-qualification, surely a Certificate III would do...

  4. Not sure what the quals are but I suspect it's not a degree thing.

    They'll be out of a job in 30 years.

    Robots, baby. Plus, we'll be able to fuck them.

    Oh. Yeah. Laughing at my jokes and a free handy on the way in.

    Now that's service.

    PS (Human) Orderlies are awesome. Irrespective of whether they hand out handies at the drop of a hat.

  5. Anonymous12:36 PM

    not fussed what quals the orderlies would have (be it certificate or degree or none!)..

    I hope that they are still a job in 30 years time. Who else can you joke with about after having broken a nose, asking the orderly to get one of those celebrity gossip mags, tear out a random pic, and ask nicely "can you make sure they give me one that looks like that?".
    Not sure a robot would get that.

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