Friday, November 25, 2011

The Countdown

The worst is over. I've been sprung from the Big House and am comfotably in my own bed.  I did have a TV in my hospital room, but the number of stations was limited, to express it midlly. My parents don't subscribe to premium stations, but we at least have expanded cable. Anytime, day or night, I can find something that will hold my attention until I fall asleep.  The wonders of modern television are seldom celebrated to the degree that they deserve to be. My mom likes to talk about the good old days when she lived in a town that only got five stations, and one of the five was in Spanish. This one-way conversation usually comes up just before the discourse of how my mom walked four miles to school through two feet of snow to school for much of the year. She lived in Nebraska during part of her childhood, so there was snow during that particular era of her life, but one of my aunts told me that the family lived one short city block -- not even the length of a foorball field -- from the school my mom attended at the time.  The only time she lived four miles from a school she attended was when she lived in Central California. Two months after moving there, at the age of thirteen, she bought her own late-model Trans-Am with winnings from her sports betting operation, and drove herself to school every day. The minimum age for legal drivers' licensure was sixteen, but in that neck of the woods,  certain laws were routinely ignored. Nine-year-olds who could not sucessfully maneuver manual transmission vehicles at least as far as the groery store and back were considered candidates for special education.  Anyway, while I grow weary of hearing my mom's stories of growing up in the dark ages, I do feel her pain where the dearth of television stations was concerned.

In terms of  The Countdown, my spleen was removed by laparotomy on the eighteenth of November. Had the procedure employed for removal been laparoscopy, whereby a couple of small incisions would have been made for the insertion of scopes for purposes of viewing what was going on inside one's midsection, and for removing the offending organ, my recovery would have been much quicker. Instead, depending upon which story one chooses to believe, either because it was medically necessary due to the sheer mass of the spleen and thinness of parts of the walls of the organ, or because doctors, even though they bring in substantial salaries, as often as not have financial obligations in excess of their salaries, the surgeon entrusted with performing my surgery opted for the more invasive  laparotomy procedure, involving an incision wide enough to have allowed for the removal of a seventeen-pound baby,  greater recovery times and, not incidentally, a heftier payment for the surgeon.

The arbitrary length of the moratorium on strenous physical ctivity or any activity that could potentially produce direct physical trauma to the area of my incision has been determined to be six weeks if nothing changes. I've been told the time could be lengthened if anything goes wrong, but that it's not getting any shorter even if Dr. Oz,  Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Jesus (the surgeon is Episcopalian, by the way; obviously if he were atheistic, Jewish or Sikh, Jesus wouldn't have much influence)  simultaneously appear to my surgeon pleading on my behalf.

I'm scheduled to fly to Utah on December 27.  This is three days before my parole officially ends. This is if I'm even allowed by my surgeon to board the plane. The plane could, God forbid,  crash, killing all of the occupants, myself included. When all is said and done and all autopsy results are in, it could be that the trauma of the place crash, in addition to causing a massive and inevitably fatal brain injury in addition to the massive injuries to at least fifteen of my vital organs, which would have caused me to bleed to death within thirty seconds of impact, a very tiny percentage of the cause of death might be attributed to the recency of my splenectomy prior to the trauma of the accident. My parents might then choose to sue the surgeon for medical malpractice.

So even being allowed to get on the stupid aircraft is far from a given. Then comes the purpose, or purposes, for my visit. My current long-distance romantic interest lives in Utah. We haven't had more than skype visits since June. While skyping is a great invention (which did not, incidentally, exist in the days of my mother's youth, but I'll spare you the tedious details) actually visiting with my date of choice is something I'm eagerly anticipating. Additionally, I LOVE snowboarding. Snowboarding can be done in California, although I don't cirrently live close to any skiing/snowboarding facilities. Still, had my schedule offered a bit more flexibility, I could have managed it, but I've carried a truckload of university credits this quarter. The upcoming winter break and trip to Utah, which has a lovely resort less than thirty minutes by car from the place where I'll be staying, will offer multiple opportunities to snowboard. Because it's a school break, the mountains will be crawling with inept snowboarders, but I'll patiently brave their incompetence for the thrill of  a few minutes of unadulterated downhill speed. 

Then we get to the technicalities. Is  December 30 my first day of release from restrictions, or is it my final day of parole? Is snowboarding one of those activities deemed so perilous by my surgeon that it must exceed even the six-week limit of inactivity? Perhaps, since my spleen was removed, I should just give up snowboarding for the rest of my life. Perhaps climbing stairs and crossing streets are activities too perilous for me to engage in as well.

I say what my surgeon doesn't know will never cause him any loss of sleep. For example, our kitchen counter is at the precise height of the incision from my splenectomy.  People bump into their kitchen counters all the time. What should we as a family do about this? Should we move, even though we only recently moved into our present home? Should we remodel our kitchen so that the counters are not at such a precarious height for me? Should I remain the hell out of the kitchen permanently? My parents could purchase and place a small refrigerator in my bedroom. My Uncle Ralph wanted to do that in the first place when he remodeled my room, but my parents rejected the idea as being too indulgent. The kitchen counter height is one of many potential dangers my parents have never even considered discussing with my surgeon. We have stairs in our home. People, even relatively coordinated ones such as myself, fall down stairs all the time. Do we need to install an elevator in our home?  The seatbelts in my mom's car press upon my splenectomy incision site in a most uncomfortable manner just wearing them.  were an accident to occur, I hate to even consider the damage that would be done by the device intended to preserve my life.. I've been told that to replace the seatbelts in my mom's car would be a ridiculous expense. Do my parents need to arrange their schedules so that my dad is available to transport me when the need arises? Or should my mother buy a new car? If she can't afford it, perhaps she could start another sports betting operation like the one she had when she was in high school.

This situation has resulted a positive outcome. I cannot sleep well at night unless I've had at least one argument with one of my parents in a given twenty-four-hour period. The topic and everthing surrounding it have produced sufficient fodder for at least one argument every hour. I'm sleeping well most of the time, and even when I can't sleep, there's always something decent on TV for me to watch.

1 comment:

  1. It's a law, we have to bump operated on bits of our body.