SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
This might come out a bit more disjointed than usual, and not as funny, as I’ve just been through something of a rough week.
What’s that, you say? I’m always disjointed and not as funny? Clearly you’ve never read the side-splitting account of my prostate exam, which never fails to clear the room.
There are ways one can deal with medical problems: laugh, cry, or stoically carry on, for instance. I whine … but I channel it into a job. This makes me the Woody Allen of my block, complete with a much younger wife but without the movie credits.
This all segues nicely into the story of my fiancée-wife, who I’ll refer to for the next year as my fiancée even though she’s kind of my wife. Segues aren’t just for riding around in malls anymore. (You have read my previous column explaining this, yes? Shame on you.)
Humor at the expense of my own problems is expected, but when the medical problems are hers it’s harder for me to find the funny. That, plus the fact that we’re still going through it and I’m writing this almost literally at the last minute (and I don’t take the term literally lightly, figuratively speaking), make this column difficult.
I wanted to explain why I’ve been largely absent from many areas of my life and why I was often an emotional bear (and you don’t want to mess with emotional bears), and above all, to say I’m sorry for using all these parenthesis. It’s also an emotion dump for me.
Many weeks ago, Emily (my fiancée-wife – seriously, read my columns) started having trouble with abdominal pain, and other symptoms. Various medical people poked and prodded and said “Hm …” in their most professional manner while Emily, who’s had various medical issues all her life, did the stoic thing. I was, of course, confident, encouraging, lighthearted, and absolutely certain everything would be okay.
Only later did I find out I fooled no one. So much for all that acting experience in high school drama club.
Dr. Miller, a lady-parts doctor, sat us down to go over options. Well, I’d already collapsed into a chair, but never mind. The options: We could do nothing and see if the pain would go away. (It had been, what – three months at this point?) We could put her on birth control pills to see if controlling her raging hormones might help. (Emily’s raging hormones, that is – Dr. Miller is a male lady-parts doctor. This is where you make the joke of your choice.)
(By the way, I was really worried at this point that the raging hormones thing would result in objects in our house being demolished, and by objects I mean my head.)
I’m really, really sorry about the parenthesis.
Or, we could go in for laparoscopic surgery, which means the doc uses a tiny camera to go Indiana Jonesing around the body, overwhelmed with curiosity and looking for trouble with such joy that he might as well be named Doctor Who. If only it could be done in a less invasive way, say with a sonic screwdriver, which is not a drink they serve at Sonic. More’s the pity.
I knew it was time for the surgery when Emily, who I sometimes call Miss 4.0, expressed a complete lack of interest in her college course load. It was like Hugh Hefner saying he wasn’t interested in women.
I took a week off from work, anticipating she might need some nursing after the surgery. Boy, was I ever right. I hate being right. I’m only right when it’s a bad thing.
I told my relatives that they didn’t need to come wait with me, under the theory that if I kept busy with writing, reading, or other work in the waiting room I wouldn’t worry, which is pretty much total bull and was roundly ignored by my mother. Other friends and relatives were flocking toward the hospital like politicians toward a photo op, until Emily came out of the operating room so quickly that I turned them all around, thinking it was all over but the shouting.
By the way, I want to take a moment to talk about Parkview Noble Hospital. This “Band-Aid station”, often put down for being a small town nothing that ships all its patients elsewhere, is where Emily had the operation. It’s also where one of my grandsons was admitted for an illness and where, in its previous location, both my daughter and I were born.
Are they going to do emergency brain surgery there? No. But the staff was competent, friendly, helpful, encouraging, caring – all those other good “ing’s”. She was in and out of surgery so quickly that when the doc stepped into the waiting room I figured it was to tell me there was a delay, and he hadn’t even started yet. At no point did anyone rush to get rid of us, or fail to answer questions or address concerns.
So if you put down a small town hospital as being worthless in front of me, those are fighting words. Or, well, very strong glare words.
The diagnosis: Endometriosis. This condition happens when cells that are supposed to stay in the reproductive system break out and have a party in other parts of the abdomen, with pain caused by their head banging music, littering of red cups still partially full of beer, and wet t-shirt contests.
I’m kidding – the wet t-shirt contests cause no harm.
While looking around with his spy cam the doc called in the pelvic police and had the party shut down. Not to go into too much detail, but the end result was a lot of pain, and medications junkies can only dream of. Yes, I did spend the next week nursing Emily back to health. No, she did not starve or get dropped down a staircase. Yes, I did come out of it sleep deprived. It’s 5:30 in the morning as I write this, five days later. She’s stretched out on the couch across the room, and I’m meeting deadline. (Note to editor: I’ll have my other news stuff to you after a nap. Also, I appreciate your note about using too many parentheses.)
I should note that during her convalescence: One contractor finished replacing my roof, I had to empty everything out of our kitchen so another could replace the ceiling and lighting fixtures, and my furnace stopped working. Life goes on, and there’ll always be something to write about. I’d just prefer, in the future, if it didn’t involve bad things happening to my loved ones.