Monday, November 1, 2010

October was Surgery Month

At least it seemed that way to me. My dog, Lester underwent ruptured disc repair two weeks ago and just last week, my mother underwent heart surgery.

So, yesterday I'm visiting Mom in the Intensive Care Unit. As hospital rooms go, this one was pretty nice. The TV was on but happily, the sound was off. The beep beep of the heart monitor is enough ambient sound for any one room.

A man wearing a lab coat appears saying he is Dr. So and so and was referred here but doesn't know why. Talk about confidence inspiring. He's a "stomach doctor" he says and opens a binder with about four inches of paper in it. He flips some pages and says again that he doesn't know why he is there.

He looks at my mother and says, "so you've had surgery? Heart surgery?"

Now, my mother is lying there with the incision on her chest partially showing above her gown. She is clutching a red valentine heart shaped pillow with a picture of a human heart on it. I almost laughed but the horror of it all smothered that impulse pretty quickly.

Then stomach doctor asks my mother if she has nausea. She says yes. Well, stomach doctor says, you have had surgery so nausea is quite likely. How old are you? My mother tells him. The woman is so doped up, I'm impressed she can remember her age. Then I glance at her arm which bears a hospital bracelet. Her age is listed right under her name. You gotta believe that somewhere in that four inches of referral information stomach doctor is looking at, the patent's age is mentioned.

Dr Stomach asks what surgery did you have? My mother says they repaired a valve and did a bi pass. What valve? Mom doesn't know. Stomach doctor chides her- you should know these things! His eyes meet mine accusingly. I shrug. The kindly nurse who has been hovering all the while says she doesn't know which valve it was either! One assumes the surgeon was savvy to which valve a couple days ago when he opened up my mother's chest.

Meanwhile my mother is fighting to stay awake to undergo further questioning by the hapless stomach doctor. The helpful nurse flitters in waving a piece of paper and exclaims, it was the Mitral valve! OK says Dr. Stomach, you'll be nauseated for a while, that's normal. He leaves.

I say to my mother, "nice bedside manner, eh?"

"I don't know," says Mom, "I thought he was kind of cute."

This was my cue to leave and let the patient sleep.

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