Monday, July 16, 2007

The best excuse in the world

For once I have a really good excuse.

Usually my excuses barely qualify as lame. Face-saving, really—they’re just face-saving excuses that no-one believes, but they allow all parties involved to carry on without feeling too bad.

“Oh! I thought the party was next Saturday.”

“I really was intending to come back in after I stepped outside. I didn't plan to be gone for 3 months.”

“I’d have brought a bathing suit if I’d have known you had a pool.”

This time though, I have an impressive excuse, one that’d get me out of almost anything. A Get Out Of Jail Free card.

Two weeks ago, I almost bled to death.

Everywhere I went looked like a crime scene with blood spatters and bloody handprints. Then, with little preamble, I ended up on an operating table, and like Keith Richards, had my blood changed (with the same degree of apparent casualness that my Honda has an oil change). I also seem to have lost four or five non-essential parts in the process.

Who’d have known that people are so similar to IKEA bookcases? Not because they have names like “Knappa” or “Glörg”, but rather because you can leave out parts when you put them together. I was under anesthesia at re-assembly time, so I have no idea whether the surgery involved small black hex wrenches, but some suspicious-looking bruises lead me to suspect it did.

I was put back together with hex wrenches and some parts were left over and left out and presumably thrown away or perhaps even used to re-assemble someone else.

I suppose I could’ve asked for the leftover parts so I could’ve enshrined them in Lucite and put them on the mantel next to my Five Year Clock, Aunt Yetta’s cigarette dispenser, the bust-of-Lenin butane lighter, and all of that other special bric-a-brac, but I didn’t. I forgot. I was unconscious. And when I wasn't unconscious, I was dosing myself with Fentanyl at ten minute intervals.

Frankly I was too distracted to ask for a doggy bag.

So my only souvenir of this unexpected hospital stay is an 8 inch vertical incision down my midsection. At least, that’s what I’m told. Any kind of medical imagery makes me so queasy that I’ve been unable to inspect my own surgical artifact. In fact, I’ve discovered it’s not all that hard to avoid peeking at it. I just don’t look.

And unlike LBJ, there’ll be no photos in which I show you my scar by way of telling you that I’m okay. Unlike Andy Warhol, I don’t want to show you the extent of the damage.

You’ll have to take my word for it.

If you asked me three weeks ago, I’d have told you that an 8 inch incision down one’s midsection would be damned painful. I’m happy to report that my intuitions were exactly right: it is indeed damned painful and I’d be reluctant to recommend you do this by way of body modification.

Sure, pierce your ears—or even pierce those more tender parts—but tell ‘em to leave your belly alone. Get that career-limiting tattoo on your forehead. Sear a corporate logo onto your haunches with a red-hot branding iron. Paint your Lee Press On Nails with liquid paper. But leave that tummy be. You don’t want to modify the configuration of your midsection. Trust me.

Sometimes when I stand up too quickly, I have the momentary sensation that my entrails are about to pop right out and go sploosh on the floor. There’s no provocation too slight. This causes me to move around more slowly than usual, because if my entrails do pop out, I want to be able to stuff them back in right away. I’m thinking that the 5 second rule applies, as it does to fumbled roasts, dumped pans of lasagna, or dribbled canapés. Just pick those entrails up and stuff ‘em back in and no-one will be the wiser.

Pop. Sploosh. Stuff.

But shouldn’t there be some perqs to being down and out? Surely there must be a few besides the usual offering of pain pills (which are used and gone all too soon) and the glamorous bouquets of cut flowers I’ve received (and they are quite lovely).

I had my tonsils removed when I was 4 or 5 years old. What I remember from that experience is that the complicit adults told me I could have all the ice cream and jello I wanted after the surgery was over. It sounded like a fabulous deal. All of the ice cream and jello I wanted. And I wanted unlimited ice cream and jello. I believe the forbidden red Kool-Aid figured into the deal too. Ah, a promise of paradise.

What they didn’t tell me is that my throat’d be way, way too sore to want any ice cream or any jello. That all of the ice cream and jello would be consumed by Kathleen Philips who came to visit me in my sickbed, attracted by the ready availability of unlimited ice cream and jello. That my hellacious sore throat would only be superseded by my mounting resentment of Kathleen Philips whose throat wasn’t too sore to eat my rightfully-earned ice cream and my rightfully-earned jello and to drink my rightfully-earned Kool-Aid.

What’s that red stain on your tongue, Kathleen? Been drinking too much Kool-Aid?

I could’ve bopped her one for enjoying my treats when I was too sick to partake. Except she was bigger and healthier and would’ve beaten the crap out of me. So her tongue got redder and redder and she got higher and higher and more hyperactive from all that sugar while I sulked in bed, feeling deceived and ill-used.

I’m not sure what the equivalent perq is as an adult. Probably to watch all of the mind-numbing TV and DVDs you want, all day, every day. So naturally now I don’t feel like watching TV.

Right after I got out of the hospital, I went through a brief flirtation with the Food Network, where there are shows featuring Horchata experts and hot dog experts and funnel cake experts and pirogi experts, all willing to comment authoritatively on their respective foodstuffs. I watched X-treme sports for awhile too, musing all the while about head injuries and what they must do to an eighteen year-old’s capacity to make intelligent remarks during on-camera interviews. I even tuned in to the Comedy Channel, knowing full well that if I laughed, it would really hurt. It was okay: I never found occasion to laugh. Finally I clicked over to the high numbers, to the XM satellite radio channels. There’s only a vague visual component to satellite radio channels on TV, cartoon raindrops, unreadable song titles, instructions how to order—that kind of thing.

Boring. Boring.

Susie came over on Saturday and loaned me DVDs of the first season of all the TV series I’ve missed in the past decade. Sex in the City. Weeds. Buffy. Veronica Mars. I haven’t started in on those yet (although I suspect that’s what I’m going to do after I publish this post). Nor have I broken into my three Netflix videos, videos that have been sitting on top of the TV since last October.

What good is a life of ease on the sofa if you can’t hunker down with the TV? I had no trouble watching 8 hours of TV each day when I was a kid. Drat! What has happened to me? Did one of those surgically removed parts house my F Troop enjoyment apparatus?

Will I ever be able to watch TV again?

Now that I have unlimited license to watch bad TV, I just don’t feel like it.

And after only two weeks, work has become a distant memory, perhaps gone with my old blood or spare organs. The strangers’ blood I have coursing through my veins instead must have a strong slacker factor. Heartier than my own blood to be certain, but not inclined to force me to break though the lassitude of recovery and return to work.

So there you have it: the best excuse in the world.

And what am I going to do with it?

Take a nap, of course.

[Note: If you have any predisposition to give blood, please do. Especially if you're Type AB Positive. I was grateful to have it there for me. Thanks.]


Anonymous Erich Schneider said...

We have DISH Network as our satellite TV provider, so we get Sirius satellite radio as part of the package. One of the radio channels, as of April, is an all-punk channel, which means you get a Sex Pistols song and a Black Flag song about once an hour.

Anyway, they also occasionally play Mötörhead, which we both agree is not punk. I imagine writing a letter:

"Dear Sirius Satellite Radio:

You are always playing Mötörhead on the Punk channel. I would like to remind you that Mötörhead is not punk.

Erich and Connie-Lynne


I hope the remainder of your organs are all working properly and everything stays where it is supposed to stay.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Kristina said...

Holy crap! Definitely the best excuse ever. Glad you are ok, and hope you are feeling better ASAP.

I had an emergency laparoscopic appendectomy in Feb, and the three little incisions hurt so badly I can't imagine an 8 inch incision. My sympathies. Ouch.

The trouble with watching DVDs is that you have to move to get up and change them. My cats wouldn't do it for me. Ungrateful little bastards.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

Watching that much TV is a daunting task for the novice. (Professionals such as myself, of course, burn through a DVD set in two weeks, tops.) Perhaps starting with a half-hour show would be more manageable. It's going to be tough, but I think you can manage. =)

8:45 AM  

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