Alex Ganon Reviews: Surgery
Updated: Jan 21
It all started two years ago. I can't say I remember why, but for some reason, I'm at the clinic. Actually, I seem to remember it was related to my bowels.
I don't have a family doctor because how could I possibly find one? Most doctors in Canada move
to the States because I hear via gossip that our pay is shit. Before the end of my conversation with Dr. Stranger, I mention a lump down low that has been uncomfortable and kinda hurts. They touch it, say, "Well, this isn't good, could be a swollen gland from infection," and send me to get an ultrasound and some blood work. It's not really work, though.
I just sit there at the lab. No effort at all, really.
A few weeks later, I'm at the same clinic but seeing a different doctor. He says I have a hernia.
After touching it, he says he doesn't understand why his peer thought it was anything else. It's obviously a hernia. There's nothing better than hearing a medical professional call another doctor an idiot. If there's one thing I need in my life it's the knowledge that doctors, who literally have your life in their hands, make mistakes too, just like us regular folks.
Anyway, he asks if I want it fixed. I ask if it will get better on its own. He says NO. I ask if it will get worse. He says PROBABLY. So, I reasonably say yes, we should fix it. He mentions that I shouldn't do a bunch of intense exercises like lifting weights and such. I lie and say no problem. I have already made up my mind that I got this hernia because I was lax on my exercises for the past year and need to get in better shape.
As I said, I live in Canada, so I don't hear anything about it again for a year. The surgeon calls me for a consultation. Great, this thing is annoying. Unfortunately, this is just a conversation, and I need to wait a whole other year before I'm on an operating table. 2 years! What can I say? At least the medical care is free….
I was a little surprised when the hospital called about the surgery. I forgot about the whole thing. A person gets used to an annoying achy lump after a few years. I tell my boss, and he naturally asks how long I'll be away. I tell him I don't know. I have forgotten everything the surgeon said a year ago. He had given me a paper with all the info, but I am sure that it has decomposed in whatever landfill I sent it to after this length of time.
It's a day surgery (I will leave the same day), so the hospital says I need a responsible adult ready to drive me home. I tell them I don't have one; all I have is my wife. They don't laugh… I guess another dad has already told them that joke.
The week of the surgery, I admit, I'm seriously looking forward to it. Excited even. My real job is as a manager in retail, and my surgery is scheduled for mid-December. That means I will get Christmas off! I don't think I have had that privilege since leaving school.
A few days before, I have an appointment with the anesthesiologist so he can NOT accidentally put me to sleep forever. I ask him if I can be given some "good stuff" before surgery for "anxiety." I mean, if I'm going to go through the hassle of being cut open, I may as well get some kind of reward for showing up, right? He says yes for sure and writes it down.
It's the day of surgery. I'm wearing clean underwear and comfy pants. I am ready.
I show up at the hospital, wait in line for my COVID screening quiz, and am naked under a gown in no time at all.
I look around the room and see only a fraction of the beds available are in use.
I don't actually do the math, but it seems there are like 5 nurses for every patient.
I'm 100% sure, just days before, the news was telling me the hospitals are in crisis, filled to capacity because of COVID. We need to keep our lockdown tight and stay secluded this holiday season. Look, I'm not commenting on the importance of these restrictions or their necessity. I'm just saying this hospital at this time seemed peaceful as hell. I'm not complaining. It's actually my preference.
A nurse comes by and hooks up my IV. She does excellent, gets it on the first try. This is a good omen, I decide. More time passes, and I start to worry that they will not give me the Valium I was promised. My heart sinks a notch; I was really looking forward to it.
A nurse comes and wheels me to the OR. My feet are dangling off the end of my cot. I watch in anticipation as my toes brush millimeters away from one obstacle after another. I make a game out of it in my head, but she unknowingly wins out. She's good at her job.
I eventually make it to my parking space. I see mine, my surgeon's, and my anesthesiologist's names on a dry erase board. This board is located in the parking space to my right. I look in front of me and see the board in my space has names for entirely other people.
I point and ask, "Hey, am I in the wrong spot?"
"Oh!..no, it doesn't matter," the nurse says but then immediately erases all the names off both boards.
Obviously, it must matter a smidgen if she feels the need to erase them. She then leaves with the boards blank. I'm curious to the point then if it's totally fine my name is not on it. No matter, I quickly lose interest, get bored and take a nap. Only slightly annoyed, I'm not getting the "good stuff."
I'm awoken by a different nurse who triple checks my info then asks me where my hernia is. I show her, and she immediately whips out a pen and draws an arrow on my skin, pointing to it. I am genuinely shocked and amazed. I assumed such tactics were just fantasy from fiction… something made up for Hollywood.
As I contemplate my faith and trust in the entire medical field, I am driven out to my final destination. This is when I try to remember precisely what it is they're doing to me. It has been a year since my consultation, so it's a little hazy.
I think it will be this:
They cut me open and blow my stomach up with air. Stick small robot arms underneath my abdominals. Travel down to my injury, and then what sew it up? That seems crude. Maybe there is a soldering gun they use (I've seen such a thing when watching my second kid get cut out). Maybe it's just a robot arm holding a bottle of superglue? Either way, I hope they suck the air out when they're done. A tall skinny guy with an extended gut would be the very worst outcome of this whole thing.
....I'd rather be dead.
Before I can double-check the air sucking, I am literally strapped down to a bed. I simply say, "Oh."
They stick something in my arm, saying it might pinch, but I don't remember if it did. A mask is placed over my face, and the top brushes my eyes, forcing them to involuntarily close.
They do not open.
Immediately I feel myself trying to raise my arms, then losing feeling in them before they crash down. This happens over and over.
I hear someone say, "Stop that."
I'm awake. Cool, it's done.
The surgeon comes by and starts talking to me. I really don't know what he tells me. I assume important post-surgery information that I immediately forget because I'm completely stoned.
The only thing I remember clearly is him telling me that I could go back to work after a week. Four weeks later, during my follow up appointment, I find out that that was totally in my imagination.
Time moves fast. I'm being wheeled out by a nurse to meet my wife outside (COVID says she cannot come in). Luckily they have written down some of the essential instructions. It's in my coat pocket, and I won't remember to give it to her until tomorrow.
The drive home is uneventful. She wants to talk about how it went. I will have none of it. For some reason, I want to discuss why, when putting clean dishes away, she thinks it's okay to mix the white dishes with the nice black ones. Every time I open the cupboard and see them mixed, I need to stop whatever I'm doing and separate them. It's very stressful. She laughs over it. I don't think it's funny.
Instead of going home, she stops at a pharmacy. I ask why. She says to get my prescription. That's weird—I don't remember giving her one.
Time starts to move slower, but eventually, I'm home.
Wife wants me to wait in the car; she will help me out. I say I'm fine, and despite her cursing, I get out before she has the engine off. She catches up to my meager shuffling hustle to the door immediately. I am an idiot, she says.
Into the living room, I supervise her repositioning of the sofa to suit my needs. I have purchased Cyberpunk to pass the time of my recovery and am eager to start. I'm under the false impression it will be okay.
She hands me some T3s telling me the nurse said to keep ahead of the pain.
"You were in the car. When did you talk to a nurse?"
"For like ten minutes before we left!"
"Are you sure? I don't remember that."
"Yes, Alex, just take the pills."
I convince her to give me four instead of two because it's just Tylenol. She agrees.
As I'm comfortably laid out, I have a chance to review the discolored disgusting mess that is now my stomach. Six hours ago, it was flat, now it's fat. I guess they do not suck the air out when they're done. Yes, I'm sure some of it is swelling, but still, I appear to be in the midst of my first trimester. I decide denial is a reasonable recourse and cover myself up. I do not even shed a tear for the apparent waste of time that was the last two years of regular exercise and diet, thanks to the hospital drugs… probably.
Time for gaming, coffee, and water. I'm all set for this vacation.
A few hours go by, and I'm hungry. What did the nurse say about food… I can't for the life of me remember. Shit, I'm starving, who cares.
Fast food then. My body is a mess, so why not give up completely? Burger and fries. This turns out to be regrettable.
30 minutes later, I'm bloated, just adding to the discomfort. I remember now, the nurse had said to eat something light. Uh, can't complain, though. If my wife finds out I wasn't supposed to eat garbage, I will get in trouble. I just take more T3s. There is also some stool softener, which my wife got as recommended by the pharmacist. They said the drugs will make me constipated. Definitely don't want that! Things are starting to hurt, and I can't imagine what pain I will feel when I take a dump, soft sounds more pleasant for sure.
The bottle says to take four before bed. It's not bedtime, though. I think hard. I don't want to overdo it. I've never had a stool softener before. I ask myself, will it work properly if I take two now and two tonight? The math works, I concur with myself.
The bottle also says it's organic and makes me question our society. Are we so far down this naturalist rabbit hole that even our laxatives must have a greener choice?
Urination proves to be a chore. Also proves to have that unique hospital chemical smell. The bathroom in our townhouse is upstairs. The living room where I plan to live indefinitely is downstairs. Each time I need to go, I have flashbacks to a three-year-old version of myself as I must reach the summit of the stairs one baby step at a time.
Wife calls out every few steps, "Do you need help!"
I answer calmly because I'm no longer physically able to raise my voice, "Nope, totally fine." It actually sucks, and I'm out of breath when I'm done. I can't even put the seat down when I'm finished.
Well…. Now it's bedtime. My wife forces me to bed, saying I don't fit on the couch, that I'm too long. I get tucked in like a baby. After some relentless nagging for her to get my pillows proper, she leaves me in the dark, and I quickly go into some sort of drug-induced coma sleep.
Fuck. Waking is the worst and will be for the next several days. I feel like death. My head is clear, probably from the sharpness of the knife that surely must be hilt deep in my abdomen, it's too dark to see, but I know it's there.
I try to get up and fail. Again fail. Fumble with a hand to check if the wife is sleeping next to me. She is not, and it's a relief. Pride does not want her to see me so pathetic. I can't even get out of bed. I keep trying. I even consider rolling off the bed but don't. I know there is a nightstand waiting to smash my forehead if I do. I'd stay there forever if I could rather than call out for help, but there's a problem. I gotta piss.
I wait a few more minutes, weighing pros and cons of pissing the bed, and finally, call out for Wife.
Dammit, I can't raise my voice. I don't have the strength to overcome the pain yelling would create. A second of panic, and I remember my phone. Soon after that, my wife is there and gives me a hand. I push her out of the way and do a baby step run to the toilet. Best piss of my life.
Back on my couch, she hands me a coffee. It has milk in it.
I've had it black for several years and am just now realizing this may be the first time she's made me coffee. It's usually me handing her one. Oh well, she's pretty.
I decline an offer for food. I could eat, but yesterday's burger and fries are still in there somewhere, and now that I'm thinking about it, I haven't even farted for probably 24 hrs. This sucks.
By the afternoon, I take a break from games and watch some Netflix. Wife is sleeping; she has a nightshift tonight. It's just the dog and me. Dog spends the next hour tooting away like he always does. I usually wouldn't notice, but now I curse at him, calling him a showoff. He just looks at me confused as I throw profanities at him. I grab more of the stool softeners, wondering if "organic" is a synonym for "useless."
I feel that this bloated feeling is the cause of all my pain and discomfort. I try to force any activity from my bowels through some pathetic pushing and only achieve a desperate need to urinate again.
After flopping like a fish out of water, I get off the sofa and shuffle to the stairs. Damn, I'm tired. I don't want to do another climb. Scowling at the stairs, I know every second delay in emptying my bladder adds to the feeling my stomach will burst at the seams.
Wait! What's that over there in the kitchen? Is that an empty kitchen sink?
It isn't surprising, as I'm the only one who cooks in the house. No cooking, no buildup of dirty dishes. I shuffle to the kitchen. Oh my, it's at a perfect height too. I'm 6'2, and it's as if fate herself designed this kitchen with this one moment in my life in mind. I pause, listening. The only sound is coming from a dog who traded flatulence for snoring. More importantly, there's complete silence from the bedroom upstairs.
I feel a little guilty after, but this vanishes as I spend the next five minutes rinsing the entire sink's basin. Just this one time, I lie to myself.
By dinner, Wife is forcing food on me. I am hungry, but my stretch alone that afternoon has given me time to think. I have concluded that I will never be capable of passing gas or taking a dump ever again and that eating more food will be the end of me. At the very least, it will force me into my second trimester.
Before she leaves for work, she offers to tuck me into bed again. I decline, although I'm being treated like a baby, I am still an adult and can stay up past my bedtime if I want.
A few hours later, I decide that I can just sleep on the couch with feet dangling rather than go upstairs to sleep. After five minutes of dog snoring, I change my mind. Before I do, I remember to take extra painkillers, hoping to not wake in so much pain tomorrow, and some more stool softener. I'm surprised to hear a hollow rattle from that oxymoronic laxatives bottle… how much had I taken through the day?
Standing before my bed, I regret declining my wife's offer. I'm perplexed about how to negotiate laying down with no armrest to support my decent. An unsupportive decent is just a stupid way to say fall, which is precisely what I do. It hurts like a mother.
After some more fish on land re-enactment, I'm done for the night and drift off into another codeine confused slumber.
I remember as a child watching Alien for the first time and laughing at the little cute chest popper as it burst out of the space man's chest. I obviously would have seen Spaceballs' parody of the event before the actual, so I assumed, too, that this was meant to be funny.
Now, after this day, I will no longer laugh at either scene. I wake in so much goddamn pain that I literally have no clue what to do. It's dark, but I know for a fact that I have my own chest alien ready to explode, but instead of a chest popper, I guess it would be a chest pooper.
I manage to get up… eventually. I stutter towards the bathroom with my best monster of the bell tower impression and gently seat myself on the toilet. I don't have to go, but I really want myself to have to go and am determined not to leave this seat until one of two things happens. Either I use it as designed, or I explode, in which case the cleanup crew will thank me for being in the confined area of the bathroom.
This plan changes when my legs go numb. My toilet paper holder is actually a pedestal type stand that I am just now realizing looks very similar to a cane. I toss the roll-off and claim it. This is now mine. Hunched over, well past bloated, I make my way downstairs with my new cane in hand. I am a genuinely decrepit thing. I make coffee and notice my wife's cigarettes on the table. I grab one, an admission of true defeat.
It's only 4am, hours before Wife gets back. I layout on the couch, making sure my new cane is within reach, and go to sleep wanting everything to go away.
Oh no! My eyes fly up in panic. I'm in full alert mode. It is time. My brain has slapped me awake in full-fledged emergency mode. I need to get to the bathroom. NOW. I don't register the pain. I get to my feet with only one goal. I must get to the toilet before I shit myself. I shuffle toward the stairs exactly how you think a manchild would, whose stomach has been ripped apart a few days before and is also clinching every ounce of sphinctoral power he can muster.
Reaching the stairs, I doubt my ability to reach my goal on time, and then I look over and see….
The kitchen…. An empty sink…
No, no, no, don't be an idiot. I mean, I wouldn't have time to clean it before my wife gets back, and how could I even get my ass up there.
I make it to the toilet in time… just as an adult should. With one hand gripping the bathroom sink and the other on the shower curtain, in my best imitation of childbirth, I have the most satisfying dump of my life. Just when I think I'm done, it seems to start over from the beginning.
By the 5th flush, I admit that this is now my punishment for lack of faith in my organic stool softeners.
I really must follow the instructions on medication going forward.
After an undetermined length of time, I hear my wife come home. My heart sinks, I forgot to lock the bathroom door and turn the fan on, and my injury will not allow me to reach either.
She calls out for me. I hear the slight creaking stomp of her tired feet coming up the stairs. She will think I'm in bed still; she will check on me right away. Or she may have to use the toilet herself after a night's laboring. Either scenario won't end without my embarrassment. Knowing the next moment will decide my entire future, I embrace the pain, take a breath and yell out… "Uhh, don't come up here, I'm just in the bathroom!"
After a pause of silence, she responds, "You okay?"
Hmm, I have a suspicion the smell snuck under the door. "Oh, yup... I'm okay!"
"Okay, hurry, I have to pee!"
Hurry? As if it were up to me. I felt like telling her there was a perfectly good empty sink downstairs but think better of it. The seemingly innocent joke could raise some unnecessary questions.
A few minutes later and a few more spent strategizing the best way to post-op clean your ass, I vacated that room that now reeked of hospital chemicals and decay.
The God of laxatives wasn't done with me that day. For the remainder, it consisted of this theme of toilet humor—instance after instance, emergency after emergency.
Although this God's ways may seem cruel to a human and his bowels, he always has a higher purpose. I find that once I am emptied out, I feel much better. I feel my recovery has finally started.
This is the moral of the story, I guess, isn't it? No matter what terrible thing has or is happening to you, life gets better after a good dump.
Going forward, I plan to be a "bowels half full" kind of guy.