February 17, 2009

Going Under

I admit it. I am deathly afraid of surgery. And it’s not just the surgery itself. It’s the “getting prepped for the surgery” process that makes me weak in the knees and causes me to cry like a baby. When I was 20, I had a surgery scheduled in Seattle. I remember being wheeled into the operating room despite the fact that I was still awake! I could see the Doctors prepping their tools and the nurses scrambling around! I hadn't been to medical school or anything but something was going horribly wrong here. Was I really supposed to be seeing all of this? Shouldn't I have been fast asleep at this point? Hello, I'm still awake over here! The medical staff reassured me that all would be fine and that this was completely normal. Normal? Come over here and I'll show you normal! I was not comforted. I knew they were going to cut into me. What had I ever done to them? Thankfully, the anesthetic finally kicked in and the surgery proceeded without incident. Ever since that experience though, I have been deathly afraid of having to go under the knife again. When I think of having surgery, I just know that the picture below is what is going to happen to me.

A few years into our marriage I started getting very sharp pains in my left shoulder. The pain was so bad it would force me to stop whatever I was doing, even dropping me to the floor, unable to move for several minutes. This went on for several weeks. I finally visited the emergency room and it was determined that my gall bladder was enlarged and that it was deferring pain to my shoulder. A surgery to remove the gall bladder was scheduled and I was a nervous wreck. What if they thought I was asleep and I wasn’t? What if it just looked like I was asleep but I was really just praying or resting my eyes or doing Yoga? How would they know if I was really asleep? Maybe I could live just fine with the bad gall bladder a few more years? The pain wasn't that bad was it? I was convinced that they were going to cut into me, just like I had been convinced so many years before. I begged and pleaded for the medical staff and Jeni to please make sure that I was asleep before they even got near to me. I wanted to be out at least 72 hours before the procedure was scheduled to start. The story now goes something like this. “Allegedly” after the surgery was over and I was sleeping in my hospital room, I suddenly sat up in bed and yelled “Don’t start yet, I’m still awake!” This “allegedly” led to riotous laughter by the nurses and even my sweet, compassionate wife, Jeni. I don't believe any of it.

The moral of this story is this. Avoid surgery at all costs! If that's not possible, pray hard that the anesthesia will kick in long before you see any Doctors or operating rooms or knives or clowns. If not, you just might say something silly and be reminded of your "alleged" outburst for many years to come. Not kidding!