Saturday, February 14, 2009

forgiving Rush Limbaugh


In the days leading up to the (belated) surgery, I did what could be expected of those of us who have Googled our own mothers: I read clavicle blogs. This was both inconsistent with my trad-media-square position that all blogs are lies, and counterproductive, because obviously all I found was horror and gore. Absolutely addled by fear that I’d pull an “Awake” (fuck you, whoever made that movie), I attempted to man up via guilt trip by watching piano-backed YouTube tributes to kids with cancer. Needless to say, the end result was hours of hysterical sobbing to Stephen, who I imagine, while dutifully patting my head with one hand, was searching for the nearest mental institution on his iPhone with the other. Sorry.

The point is: This is not, as it might appear, another self-pity post; oh, no. I’m merely giving back to the pool of appalling clavicle blogs, making a reciprocal contribution so that I in turn might scare someone else shitless. This is not terrible writing; it’s a public service. You see?

Things started out auspiciously enough with the happy realization that the “ambulatory” in “Ambulatory Surgery Center” meant ambling and not ambulances, negating my concern about sharing a room with a moaning gunshot victim. Where I expected the gunshot victim to have come from, and how I propose to take the LSAT at this vocabulary level, I can’t say.

Pleasant surprises continued. The hospital is new and swanky as shit (thanks, Stanford endowment!), complete with a “guest services concierge” (…) and a patient-status board straight out of the airport. I love airports. I waited behind my curtain for three hours past my scheduled “departure” time but did so while watching Martha Stewart make brownies and reading lewd jokes in the closed-captioning (“Mmmm, it’s so smooth and creamy; it just slips down your throat!”).

The only part of the procedure that demanded my consciousness was IV insertion, which was probably more stressful for the poor med student than for me and my freakish little veins. I did not wake up in the midst of the hack job; I did not feel the breathing tube; there was no earthquake, and, consequently, no one severed my artery.

Sadly, things deteriorated from there. I had hoped—-per my usual approach to unpleasant experiences from exams to time trials—-that my Google-powered dread would prove outsized, that the freakout would be bigger than the experience itself. Alas, no. Even my spectacular brand of pessimism could not have prepared me for the first six hours post-op: beyond description, truly, thoroughly worse than the initial break. Which, of course, is what all the blogs said.

Half of the problem (the other being that I have just had a titanium plate screwed into my neck) was that I couldn’t hold down the first round of painkillers, those vital stepping-stones between the relative safety of a morphine drip and my house. Unprotected in the interim, there was nothing to do but shut my eyes and profess a completely genuine preference for immediate death. Drama!

Which brings me at last to Rush Limbaugh. It is now perfectly clear to me how one goes about getting addicted to painkillers. I hurt, yeah, and enough that I composed this epic letter-by-letter in the small hours of the morning and haven’t slept since—but more compelling than the pain I’m in now is my desperate desire to avoid the pain I was in before, even at the risk of putting my liver in a state of Swiss cheese that would make Prometheus blanch.

Engineers, how’s that time machine coming?

2 comments:

Katie P said...

Damn.

But has Rush ever broken a collarbone?

Hope the worst is over. And oh yeah, you've probably heard this one, but the part about the time machine is at around 37 minutes. http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/player/CPRadio_player.php?podcast=http://www.thisamericanlife.org/xmlfeeds/324.xml&proxyloc=http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/player/customproxy.php

Katie P said...

PS as I recall it makes me cry so don't listen if crying hurts.