The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part I: A Perineum is not a type of flower...

“Sunday, December 7th, a day that shall live in infamy.” The words of Franklin D. Roosevelt will forever be etched into my memory, but for a different reason than most. Sixty-seven years to the day that the Nips pulled their sneak attack on battleship row, a bolt of lightening came down from the clouds and struck me square in the ass.

While bending over to zip up a bag of luggage I’d packed for a trip to Houston the next morning, something akin to a pit bull reached up and bit me on the left butt-cheek. The pain was hot, sharp and very, very intense. A shot of boiling acid must have been injected into my ass, because the back of my leg was obviously on fire. I immediately sat down and tried get into a comfortable position to alleviate the pain. I tried to sit, stand, lay flat on my back, my stomach, anything to ease the flow of flaming napalm running down my leg. But much to my dismay, nothing worked. It was getting late, so I decided to self-medicate by taking a couple of Vicodin and drinking three fingers of bourbon, then went straight to my room and got into bed.

When I awoke on Monday morning, there were hot coals in my ass and my leg was still smoldering. There was absolutely no way I was going out of town in that condition, so I cancelled my trip and called my primary care doctor for an appointment. After an examination, my doctor’s 12 years of medical training and 20 some-odd years of experience as a physician lead him to the sage prognosis that I had pinched a nerve in my lower back. He prescribed more Vicodin, a muscle relaxant and told me to lay flat for a few days. He said I should be better within about a week, but to call him back if my condition didn’t change or got significantly worse. I laid out a $25 co-pay, spent $50 at Walgreen’s for prescriptions, then headed back home where I retreated to my bed.

Over the next three days I lived like Elvis. I would stay awake only long enough to take more drugs, eat and piss. The drugs helped and the pain was getting better, but I noticed that my feet were beginning to get numb. At first, it felt like my toes were going to sleep or were really cold, but by nightfall, both feet were entirely numb. The feeling reminded my of being in the training room after football practice to soak my ankles in 5 gallon buckets full of ice, rock salt and water; cold, numbing and painful.

Over the next three days the numbness slowly spread from my feet, to my calves, to my hamstrings and to my ass. I began to have a hard time walking to and from the bathroom, but I wasn’t sure if it was the numbness in my legs or the fact that I was popping Vicodin and muscle relaxers like they were Tic Tacs. It still hurt like hell to stand up and move around, but because of the copious amounts of narcotics in my system, I just didn’t care.

When I awoke on Thursday morning I got scared that something was seriously wrong. In addition to my legs and ass-cheeks, my taint and nuts were now numb. The mere thought of a paralyzed dingus would strike fear into the hearts of the most courageous of men, and I was no different. I frantically called Dr. Feelgood and reported the change in my condition. After explaining what a “taint” is to a 60-year old doctor, then being informed that the proper term for it is “perineum”, I was told to immediately go to the emergency room for an MRI.

The wife and kids were already gone to school, so rather than call for assistance I decided to cowboy-up and take myself on in. I downed a handful of Vicodin to quell the pain, waited a half-hour for it to take affect, and then got myself dressed. I literally couldn’t keep my balance to walk, plus the burning pain was getting worse. I grabbed a chair and used it like a walker to help stabilize myself and began to hobble out to my truck. With every step the pain grew worse and it took me about 45 minutes to traverse the 30 feet of sidewalk that separate my house from the carport. The pain was becoming more and more unbearable and I began to realize that the decision to drive myself to the hospital might be a big mistake.

As I finally got to the door of the truck, I could no longer hold myself up with my legs and was using the chair to support the full weight of my body. I got the door opened and tried to climb in the truck, but the pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. It literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine that being set on fire would be any worse than what I was enduring. I stood there feeling like I was waist-deep in a pool of acid, unable to get in my own truck or make it back to the house. At that point, I admitted to myself that I was in real trouble and needed help. I managed to get the phone out of my pocket without falling over, called 911 and begged for an ambulance come pick me up.

It seemed like forever, but the paramedics actually arrived within about 10 minutes of the call. After listening to my list of symptoms and my apology for being such a pussy that I had to call them for a “hurt back”, they tried to figure out how they were going to get my big ass on the stretcher. We all debated for a while, but couldn’t come up with an easy plan. With no forklift or hydraulic crane at my disposal, we came to the consensus that the only way to get on the stretcher was for me to nut-up and climb my ass up there. They lowered the stretcher to a little below waist high, set a backboard on top of the pad and pushed it right up against me. All I had to do was sit down, lay back and swing my legs up. The paramedics even helped me by holding my shoulders and trying to lift my legs up as gently as possible, but the pain was indescribable.

I screamed in a high-pitched voice like an 8-year-old girl who just got a pony for Christmas. A horrific symphony of falsetto obscenities spewed from my lungs and I begged God to make the pain stop, but he wasn’t listening. Tears were streaming down my face and I had to force myself to inhale. I was in such pain that I think it even scared the paramedics a little bit. Mercifully, they slid the backboard over a bit, centering my body on the stretcher. As one paramedic began to strap me down, another radioed the hospital to let them know we were coming. They took my vital signs and talked to the hospital a little more before wheeling me around to the back of the ambulance and loading me inside.

I’d been meaning to have a few truckloads of caliche brought in to re-surface my road, but just hadn’t got around to it. The ambulance ride sure made me wish I had, because every pothole we hit in that sumbitch made me scream. The ride to the hospital took about 15 minutes and the guy in the back with me was monitoring my vital signs and talking to the hospital. He hooked up an IV in my arm and gave me a shot for the pain, but it didn’t do any good. I asked him for a rig of heroin or if I could smoke some opium or some shit, but my request was denied. I’d have to wait until I got to the hospital to get anything stronger.

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part II: Every man wants to hear "you're too big!"

After the longest 15 minute ride of my life, the paramedics wheeled me into the emergency room and handed me off to the ER docs. The people in the ER asked me a bunch of questions, took more vital signs and finally got around to getting me something to dull the pain. They injected a cocktail of pain medication and Valium into my IV and told me that I’d soon be heading upstairs to have an MRI. After a few more minutes of excruciating pain, the drugs began to effect and take the edge off. I was still in a helluva lot of pain, but at least I could breathe without screaming.

A procession of doctors, nurses and admissions people paraded through the examination room before the MRI Tech got there to haul me upstairs. He took one look at me, shook his head and said that I was too big to fit in their machine. Now, I realize, even embrace the fact that I’m a big, fat, overgrown cow-bellied bastard, but what the hell? I wouldn’t fit in the machine? When I asked him about what kind of half-assed MRI starter kit they had, he informed me that he didn’t think my chest and shoulders would fit through the opening in the tube. About that time, a doctor walked in. The two of them discussed sending me to Ft. Worth to a larger MRI and whether or not a CT Scan would work. They ignored me as they talked, as if I was merely a piece of furniture in the room and I couldn’t hear a word they were saying.

I think I pissed them off when I suggested, “How ‘bout you find a fucking tape measure, get some dimensions and figure out if my fat ass will fit in the machine you’ve got here?”

They both left the room, and then the MRI guy came back with a plastic ruler. He made a half-hearted attempt at measuring the width of my shoulders, and then went upstairs to measure the opening of his machine. Forty-five minutes later I was headed upstairs to get the MRI.

Normally, the patient would be inserted into the machine head first, but because I was a square peg being fit into a round hole, the rocket scientists on duty in the MRI lab were going to do it differently. They loaded me onto the conveyor table feet first and ran me into the machine until my shoulders hit the sides of the opening. The MRI guy told me to lay still while he left the room to see if enough of my back was in the tube to get a good picture. Once he was satisfied that it would work, he fired up the machine and we got started. The MRI took about 30 minutes to complete, then he backed me out of the hole and helped me get into the wheelchair so I could go back down to the ER. I asked him when the doctor would be able to look at the film and was told that it had already been e-mailed to the on-call surgeon for review.

By the time I got back to the ER, the pain shot had worn off and I was hurting pretty bad again. The nurse gave me another injection to ease the pain and said that they’d be moving me upstairs to a room pretty quickly. The Valium relaxed me, but for some reason the pain medication didn’t seem to work as well this time. I was still in a great deal of pain an hour later when they came to take me upstairs to my room.

As luck would have it, Weatherford Regional Medical Center is undergoing a big expansion project and the whole place is torn up with the ongoing construction. The nurse told me that, due to the construction, there was a shortage of private rooms. I would be placed in a semi-private room with another patient until a private room was available. At that point, I could give a shit less where they put me, as long as I could get another shot to extinguish the molten lava running down my legs. When I got to my room, I met the nurse, Crystal, and asked her to give me another shot for pain. This time, the shot did absolutely nothing. Before, the Valium at least relaxed me a bit but this time; nothing… I waited about an hour and called Crystal back down to my room to tell her that the shot didn’t work. She said that I was under a different doctor’s orders now and that he hadn’t prescribed Valium and was giving me a different pain killer. The doctor was on the floor making rounds, so she said that she’d talk to him about increasing my medication. About 20 minutes later, Crystal came back with a syringe full of heaven…

Dilaudid is like synthetic morphine, and the good doctor prescribed me a healthy friggin dose. He also prescribed double the amount of Valium that I was getting in the emergency room. Relief was on the way! Crystal injected the syringe into my IV, then “pushed” it with some saline. No sooner than she took the saline syringe out of the IV, a warm, peaceful wave of sweet relief rolled throughout my entire body. I was blanketed in a fluffy, warm comfort that I can only describe by comparing it with what junkies on TV look like when they shoot heroin. Just like when a junkie sticks that spike in his vein and releases the rubber band strapped around his arm, my eyes rolled back into my head and I drifted off into blissful euphoria. Also like a junkie, I slept so hard that I didn’t even realize that I’d pissed all over myself.

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part III: The Greatness of Donnie

Room 313 was a semi-private room. I was in bed “A” and a dude named Donnie was in bed “B”. Donnie was sleeping when they brought me into the room, so I didn’t say anything to him. He was a white guy who looked to be in his mid-thirties and was clean cut. I was surprised, because with my luck, I’d figured I’d be matched up with some homeless Mexican and get spend the weekend fighting with him over whether we were going to watch football on ESPN or Sabado Gigante on Univision. I suppose it didn’t really matter; I was looking forward to mainlining my way back to ecstasy every four hours anyway. Soon enough, a nurse came in the room and woke Donnie up to check his blood pressure. She asked him some questions, but he didn’t say much. I assumed that he was still sleepy and might even have been a little pissed that she woke him up. Then Donnie started talking…

A deep voice began “speaking” in some guttural, stuttering tongue that was unrecognizable as any language I’d ever heard before. The sudden realization that I was sharing a room with a fucking retard hit my like a baseball bat square in the forehead. Donnie sounded like a combination of Warren from “Something About Mary”, Porky Pig and Helen Keller on steroids. I dreaded the moment when Donnie would turn his attention to me and begin the verbal assault. Sure as shit, as soon as the nurse left the room Donnie began to carpet-bomb me with a painful, stuttering Q & A session.

"Whaa yheu naam? Whaa w..w..w..wonngh wiff yheu?" I kept waiting for him to ask me if I’d seen his baseball… I did my best to avoid as much verbal interaction as I could, but Donnie was a talker.

Donnie was also a call button pusher. The nurses had to hate him because he was constantly summoning them with the call button for absolutely nothing. Everything from, “I’m cold.” to “What’s for dinner?” to “I just peed.” Sometimes the nurse would leave the room and he’d hit the call button again before she’d even have time to get back to the nurse’s station. Donnie was a very demanding retard.

While he was out of the room having some tests done, I got the whole story on Donnie from one of the nurses. Donnie had been in a car accident about six or seven years earlier that seriously fucked him up. He was jogging early one morning when he was hit by a car and suffered severe head trauma. Donnie had a Master’s degree and was a CPA before his accident. Now, he could hardly talk, couldn’t walk, and couldn’t wipe his own ass. The nurse said that Donnie had been living with his parents, but they were forced to move him into an assisted living center because he needed more care than they could provide. He was in the hospital because he had a blood clot in his leg and the doctors were afraid it would break loose and cause him to have a stroke. After learning all of this, my feelings toward Donnie changed a bit. He was still an annoying pain in the ass, but at least he wasn’t a retard.

Beyond brain damage, a life-threatening blood clot and an affinity for The Hallmark Channel, Donnie had another major affliction that commanded my attention. The poor bastard was constantly puking. He’d eat something, and then puke. He’d drink a few sips of water, then puke. The nurses would spend 20 minutes cleaning him up and changing his clothes, then he’d hurl all over himself again before they could get to the end of the hall. He vomited so much on Friday, that I began keeping a record of the eruptions. At 6:12 AM, Donnie had his first reversal of the day. He blew beets again at 8:22 AM, 9:51 AM and 11:05 AM. Donnie then decided to throw everyone a curveball by shitting all over himself at 12:15 PM. Even though they had taken the preventative measure of putting a diaper on him, the clean-up took the nurses forever and funked up the room something fierce. Thank God we had already eaten lunch. After he dropped the deuce, I quit recording the times he puked. Shitting the bed just kind of made throwing up all over himself not as interesting anymore.

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part IV: This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs...

Nicole was my daytime nurse on Friday. She came in and introduced herself, then asked me how I was doing and wanted to know if I was comfortable. I quickly explained to Nicole that my entire goal in life for that day was to say absolutely as medicated as possible in order to avoid the realization of what a shitty situation I was in. I asked her if she knew what the results of my MRI showed, but she had no idea. Nicole did say that that a surgeon named Dr. Largent was supposed to be coming by to see me and talk about what my MRI had shown. Knowing that the doctor would be there relatively soon, I decided to put off getting another fix of hospital heroin. For some odd reason, I felt like I would need a clear head to understand exactly what he was going to tell me. By the time he got there, I was wishing that I’d gone ahead and taken that shot.

Dr. Largent finally showed up around 8:30 AM just as the fire in my legs re-ignited. The good doctor told me that my MRI revealed two ruptured disks and one herniated disk in my lower back. The ruptured disks were pressing on the nerves in my spinal column and were causing the pain and numbness in the lower half of my body. Doc Largent said that he was referring me to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. The specialist would decide what type of surgical procedure would be necessary to correct the problem. I was told that the spinal specialist, Dr. Brown, would be coming by later that day to examine me and go over the procedure. The only ray of sunshine in the dark cloud of this conversation was that Doc Largent increased my pain medication frequency from once every four hours to once every two hours. The good doctor wasn’t even out of the doorway before I was hitting the nurse call button. Within a few minutes, Nicole showed up with my fix. As she injected the sweet, merciful nectar of the Gods into my bloodstream, she said that she was surprised that the doctor had increased my dosage. Drifting off into peaceful nirvana, all I could utter in response was, “I’ll see you in two hours…”

I succeeded in my goal of staying high all day on Friday. Nicole came by about every two and a half hours with my cocktail of body-numbing serum and kept me in a constant state of Shangri-La. Every time she would come in I would ask her if she had seen Dr. Brown, but he was AWOL. As daytime blended into night, Nicole left and Sherri came in. She said that Dr. Brown had called and added some additional medications to my daily ration of narcotics. I was to receive a muscle relaxant shot twice daily and a steroid shot once per day. Neither of them seemed to add to, or detract from my high, so I wasn’t really concerned. I was kind of confused and wondered why Dr Brown hadn’t made it by to check me out. Dr. Largent acted as if they would be looking to operate pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure if Brown’s absence was a good thing or not. Maybe I wasn’t all that bad if he wasn’t concerned enough to examine me on Friday? Surely he’d seen my MRI and knew what was wrong. Just as well, I was so screwed up on the synthetic black tar heroin that I probably wouldn’t have understood anything he was coming to tell me anyway.

Friday night was little more than a dark, hazy blur. I slept really hard for the first time in a week or so. I guess I had so much smack in my system that I finally just fell out. I slept clean through from about 11:00 that night until a little before 6:00AM Saturday morning. When I woke up I was beginning to hurt again. My legs were starting to burn and my feet were as cold as ice. I realized that I’d slept through my last two pharmaceutical pit-stops and must have been running on fumes. I hit the nurse call button and asked for another pain shot, then waited for the Angel of Mercy to come to my rescue. Five minutes went by… Then ten… Then twenty minutes. I didn’t want to piss the nurses off like Donnie and keep hitting the call button so I gave it some more time. After an hour had gone by, my legs were fully engulfed in flames. At that point I didn’t care if it hair-lipped the Pope; I hit the button again. The voice on the other end said that someone would be there right away to give me my shot.

Again, I waited. Ten minutes… Twenty minutes… Time seemed to drag on and on... Finally at ten minutes after 8:00 AM, my new nurse, Tiffany, showed up with my rig. As politely and respectfully as I could muster, I inquired as to why the fuck it took so long for a fucking nurse to do their fucking job and walk 30 fucking feet down the hall to give me the fucking medicine that was keeping me the fuck alive. She said that the night crew worked 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM and started preparing for shift change at about 6:00 AM; doing paperwork and somesuch. Then the day crew came on at 7:00 AM and worked until 3:00 PM. It takes every new crew about an hour to get up to speed on all of the patients’ charts before they hit the floor. Tiffany advised me to call about an hour and a half before shift change if I was going to need a shot while the crews were working on their handoff. That’s when I made a mental note to self: Try not to go into cardiac arrest or have any sort of life threatening crisis during shift change; you might have trouble getting a Band Aid…

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part V: What "NOT" to say to a nurse...

On Saturday, I had either a real intellectual breakthrough, or a catastrophic mental collapse, depending on you look at it. I became conversationally proficient in the native tongue of the brain damaged retard. I began to understand Donnie’s mumblings and started interpreting his complaints and directives to the nurses. This was particularly entertaining in the afternoon when Shaunte’, the 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM nurse, started her shift.

Shaunte’ was a black woman of considerable size, in her mid thirties, who for lack of a better description had no internal governor. Although she was very pleasant and personable, she lacked either the tact or non-confrontational nature of the other nurses that had been charged with Donnie’s care. When other nurses were in the room and Donnie started in on them with his stuttering bullshit, they all smiled and politely acknowledged him, then got away as quickly as they could. But not Shaunte’…

Donnie started in on her with a barrage of, “T-t-t-tha doctuer s-s-sed I’m gunna git tew go h-h-h-h-home Sh-Sh-Shundey.” Shaunte’s head swiveled around on her neck in alarm like a hood sista’ getting ready to fire off a “No you didint!”, took a look at me and said, “What in the hell is this mans talkin’ about?” She looked back at Donnie and, in a slow, deliberate, louder voice as if Donnie were hard of hearing and said, “Sir, I can’t understand a word you’s sayin. What you need?” Donnie fired of another round of thick-tongued broken English and got the same response from the dumbfounded nurse.

After three or four failed attempts at communication between the two, I stepped in to act as an interpreter. “He says the doctor told him that he might get to go home on Sunday.” She cocked her head to the side, looked at me with squinted eyes and said, “How you get that from what he said?” I told her I’d been rooming with Big Don since Thursday and I had heard him talk enough to know what he was trying to say. Shaunte’ looked back at Donnie, and again in a loud, slow voice said, “That’s real good Sir. I hope you get to go home real soon.”

She finished up what she was doing, turned to leave the room, then stopped and looked at me as she passed my bed. She smiled, put her hand up to the side of her face blocking her mouth from Donnie’s view, and whispered, “If you can understand that mans, you been up in here with him w-a-y too long…”

Donnie and Shaunte’ had quite a number of dust-ups throughout the afternoon, but the mother of all confrontations occurred shortly after dinner. As usual, Donnie ate… And then Donnie puked. The curtain between our beds was extended about half-way so I couldn’t see how bad it was, but it sounded like he projectile vomited all over his side of the room.

When the eruption subsided and he caught his breath, Donnie hit the call button and exclaimed, “I-I-I-Ayeee juss thew up.”

Within minutes Shaunte’ showed up to see what the problem was. I could see the look of defeat and disgust on her face as she stood at the foot of his bed and assessed the situation. I heard Donnie’s nurse call button go off again, but this time it was Shaunte’ calling the desk for back-up. I guess when faced with the gastrointestinal carnage of a grown man lying in a bed full of his own vomit, no one nurse could hope to rescue her patient alone. Another nurse arrived with a cart full of bed sheets, blankets, pillows and cleaning supplies. The two nurses dawned their personal protective equipment, discussed the mission objective and then attacked Donnie’s vomit-covered bed and body with the deliberate, swift precision of a Green Beret team clearing a mud hut full of Iraqi insurgents.

Since the curtain was half-way drawn I could not see the tactics that they employed, but it was amazing how quickly the soiled linens were removed and Donnie’s personal hygiene was restored. All the while, Donnie was letting them know that he “thew up” and that he was feeling better now. I took the opportunity to brief Shaunte’ on the fact that Donnie was a chronic vomiteer and that he puked four or five times a day on average. In hindsight, I should have kept my mouth shut, because I had no idea that the little bit of intel I passed along would lead to such a full-scale firefight.

Shaunte’ went to the cart and grabbed a plastic bucket. Again, as if she were talking to someone who was half-way deaf, she began to tell Donnie to puke in the bucket rather than to just let if fly on his chest. Donnie started mumbling and stammering in his own native tongue, then I heard him rummaging around in his bed-side table. Well, this time I didn’t have to interpret for Shaunte’; she heard everything he said loud and clear.

Donnie said, “That’s too big. I use this.”, then he apparently produced a plastic urinal bottle half full of partially digested hospital food, fresh from his latest episode. I thought Shaunte’ was going to have an aneurism right there on the spot.

“Goooooood lord in heaven! You not s’possed to be up-chuckin in that! That a urinal! That for urine!” Shaunte’ took a step back from behind the curtain and with her hand on her hip,cocked her head, looked at me and held up the urinal bottle full of vomit. Then, in a stern and accusatory tone, asked me if I had known that he had been trying to hurl in urinal. I wanted no part of Shaunte’s wrath, so I denied all knowledge of anything that had ever occurred on the other side of the curtain. She turned her attention back to Donnie and began brow beating him with specific instructions on what receptacle was to be used for piss and what receptacle was for puke. For some reason, Donnie must have felt that it was his constitutional right to puke in a piss bottle, so he vehemently stuttered and argued in an increasingly hostile voice. Donnie continued barking some angry, unintelligible shit as Shaunte’ was leaving the room. About the time she was half-way out the door, the stars and moon must have been in perfect alignment because Donnie’s voice and diction became perfectly clear and understandable. For one brief and fleeting instant, Donnie was as articulate as anyone I’d ever heard. One, single word echoed throughout the room in slow motion…

N-*-*-*-* r. (the dreaded "N" word)

Complete, utter silence… Dead, deafening silence filled Room 313; in fact, the entire hospital went silent. The earth must have stopped spinning and time stood still. I swear I could hear my heart beating. I sat paralyzed by shock and fear wondering if she had heard him, praying that she hadn’t. I quickly got the answer to my question. I swear that someone in the hallway began softly whistling the theme music from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” as the door slowly swung open. There, silhouetted by the bright light of the hallway behind her, stood the dark, menacing form of Shaunte’. No longer was she the pleasant, personable nurse who I had known only moments before. Fueled by the fire of racism and bigotry, she had morphed into nothing short of a pissed off Ving Rhames in drag. She moved through the doorway as if she were in slow motion. Every footstep she took on the cold tile floor echoed throughout the vast emptiness of the room. As she slowly exited the darkness, the fluorescent light of the room illuminated her face, revealing a fear-inspiring scowl the likes of which I had never before seen. With anger and hatred burning inside her like a volcano on the verge of eruption, she stepped into the room and toward the side of my bed. Her fists were clenched and her jaw flared as her bloodshot eyes stared into mine. Then, with veins popping out on her forehead and her teeth clenched tightly, she spoke to me.

“Did that mans say what I think he said?”

I sat motionless, paralyzed by fear, afraid to lie but also afraid to tell the truth. What would be my response? If I told her what I thought I had heard, Donnie would surely never see the light of day again. If I lied, she might twist off and go all Black Panther on me. I quickly determined that my only option was plausible deniability.

“Huh… I was watching the news… What did he say?”

Again silence…There were several awkward moments of nothingness where I held my breath as she stared at me before responding. It was like she was testing me or trying to see if I would crack under the pressure. The silence was pure torture… Finally, she un-clenched her fists, relaxed her jaw and blinked.

“Oh nothing… Nevermind. I thought I heard him say… something… Nevermind.”

I capped off my evening of racial tension and potential violence with another pain shot and a nap. I dared not summon Shaunte’ to the room and warned Donnie that he was liable to get us both killed if he even thought about dropping another “N-bomb”. I guess God watches out for retards too, because Big Don didn’t have any issues requiring nursing care until well after shift change, and thankfully, the new nurse was a middle-aged white woman. Our new keeper must have had the Lord on her side as well because Donnie slept the entire night. Not one single nurse call. Thank God…

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part VI: Losing My Virginity

Saturday faded into Sunday and night into day. I was hungry as hell when they brought the breakfast tray in at about 7:15 AM Sunday morning. I inhaled the powdered eggs, microwave sausage patty and some type of bread that I think was intended to be French toast. I asked the nurse about the possibility of Dr. Brown showing up on a Sunday and was told that if, and only if he were to make an appearance, it would be sometime after lunch.

With a cow belly full of bland hospital food and an IV full of elephant tranquilizer, I settled in for an entertaining day of ESPN and watching Donnie annoy the nurses. And Donnie could work that call button like a champion. He got hot, so they brought him a fan. He got cold, so they brought him a blanket. He couldn’t see the TV because of the glare from the window, so he had them close the blinds. He peed, he puked in the urinal bottle, he needed a drink, and of course, he wanted to go home.

I’d been lying in a hospital bed for over three days without getting up and desperately wanted a shower. There was no way I was capable of getting this done in a conventional manner, so the nurses told me that the next best thing was to give myself a sponge bath. They got me a bucket of warm water, a bottle of some bullshit soap/shampoo that didn’t require rinsing, some wash rags and a towel. They drew the curtain around my bed to provide a little privacy and I went to work. I was going commando in basketball shorts, so stripping down was easy. I used one wash rag to scrub my pits, another to scrub the family jewels and the remainder for my head, face, etc.

About the time I was getting done, I heard the door to the room creaking, then the curtain at the foot of my bed flew wide open. I was butt-ass naked and some 40+ year-old grey-haired douchebag was standing at the foot of the bed staring at me with a puzzled look on his face. I looked at him for a second and then said, “No thanks man. If I needed any help I’d have asked for a hot young nurse to come down here… not a dude.”“Good afternoon, I’m Dr. Brown...”

The friggin surgeon had finally showed up. I’d been waiting on this asshole since Thursday afternoon and he finally shows up at 2:30 PM on Sunday while I’m bare-ass naked, scrubbing my nuts with a wash rag. I guess no one bothered to coordinate his golf schedule and my bath time. I politely asked him to give me a moment while I dried off and got dressed. He agreed, pulled the curtain back and began asking me questions. I told him the whole story and went down my list of ailments. He then asked if I’d had an MRI. “Yeah, I had one on Thursday. I’ve been sitting here ever since waiting on you to decide what to do with me. Have you not seen it yet?” He hadn’t, so he left the room to go retrieve my records.

Moments later he re-appeared and asked more questions, specifically whether I was having trouble urinating or defecating. I explained that I couldn’t feel my bladder and had no idea when I needed to piss. About every three hours, I’d kind of roll over onto my side, stick my hang-down in the bottle and push on my stomach to make myself piss. He then asked about defecation. I explained that defecating had not been a problem because I hadn’t cut a load of timber since Monday of the previous week. That was when things went from embarrassing to full on humiliation. The doctor walked to the sink, got a pair of rubber gloves and asked me to drop my shorts. The first thing he did was poke my feet with an ink pen. I felt nothing. I was asked to wiggle my toes, which I could barely do. Then he told me to roll over onto my side… I should have known something bad was about to happen… He grabbed my ass-cheek with one hand, pulled it up and placed his finger against the rim of my asshole. He then removed his hand from my butt-cheek and then gave me a reach-around. He cradled my sack in one hand and had the finger of his other hand pressed up against my balloon-knot.

That’s when it happened… He fisted me.

Dr. Brown stuck his finger up my ass all the way to the knuckle. I could tell he was cramming his entire hand up my butt, but surprisingly enough it didn’t hurt. All I was really feeling was the pressure. I started to look back at him and make a comment about feeling like I was on the Sopranos when Janice shoved a dildo up Ralphie’s ass, but decided against it. He readjusted his hand on my rig, squeezed my cods a couple of times and then gave me the shocker again. Dr. Brown’s finger was so far up my ass that I was sure I’d have an imprint of his wedding ring on my taint. He told me to “try and resist” by tightening my sphincter muscles.

I then looked back at him and said, “Don’t you think I’d be all seized up if I could. I mean, I’ve only got a strange man whom I just met fingering me like I’m some kind of high school prom date.” I don’t think he was amused.

I guess the doctor had an affinity for prison rape and liked it rough; I must not have put up enough of a fight for his tastes because he quit double-donging me and took off his gloves. He announced that I needed surgery to relieve the pressure that the ruptured discs were placing on my nerves. Dr. Brown also said that he was leaving that afternoon for a conference in San Diego. He told me that he had to get to the airport, but that he’d call the nurses and let them know what was going to happen. So within a time span of no more than 5 minutes, I’d met my surgeon, been cornholed, was told I needed surgery and was again sitting in the hospital waiting for someone to tell me what the hell was going on.

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part VII: Surgery, Self Medication and Socialism

So the rest of the afternoon I sat waiting. Every time a nurse would come in I’d ask if Dr. Brown had called, but no one knew anything. All they could tell me was that Dr. Brown was either going to have one of his associates perform the procedure, or have me wait until he got back from California and take care of it himself. I wasn’t sure when I’d be having the surgery, or even who would be performing it. After a few hours passed, a strange thing happened…

Dr. Brown and walked back into my room. He said that he had called the other surgeons in his practice, a few in Ft. Worth and even one in Dallas to see if anyone could operate on me that evening. By the time he found out that there were no available surgeons on a Sunday night, he was already on the plane. Dr. Brown actually got off of a plane at DFW and drove back to Weatherford. He said that he didn’t think the surgery could wait until he got back from San Diego, so he had to cancel his trip and come back to work on me. He was afraid that if I waited any longer, the nerve damage in my lower body could become permanent.

As soon as he finished describing the procedure itself, a couple of nurses came in and started wheeling me off to the operating room. Everything happened so fast that I had no time to prepare myself. I was thinking of question after question that I wanted to ask him. I got the nurses to stop and get me a pen and a piece of paper so I could write my questions down. How many of these procedures have you performed? What is the success rate for 100% recovery? How long is the recovery period? How much work will I have to miss? The list went on and on…

Soon enough, I arrived at the operating room where I saw Dr. Brown and the anesthesiologist. I asked my list of questions, answered a few of his, and then was rolled into the operating room. As with every other surgical procedure I’ve ever had, there were people milling around, getting everything prepared and whatnot. Then the infamous mask was placed over my face and I was told to breathe deeply…

I awoke four hours later in the recovery room. Dr. Brown was talking to me, telling me to wake up and tell him how I felt. That was easy, “Like shit.” He said that everything had gone according to Hoyle and that I should be good as new in no time. I had one disc removed completely, another repaired and my L4 and L5 vertebrae had been fused together. I was a new man! Well, almost…

I went to a different room after the surgery, so I have no idea what became of Donnie. Just as well, he would have whipped my ass with a million questions and I wasn’t really up for an in-depth discussion at that time. I went to another semi-private room, but this time I had no roommate. I was looking forward to getting a shot of the Valium and Heroin cocktail that I had grown so fond of, but quickly found that the well had run dry. I was now “self-medicating.” There was a big syringe full of pain medication on some kind of pump that was hooked into my IV that I could control by pushing a button. The nurse told me I could push the button once every six minutes and receive a small amount of the medication. Much like socialism, it was a great theory that didn’t work out so well in practice. I firmly believe that one of two things occurred:

1) the button was broken… or
2) I received a syringe full of watered-down liquid aspirin.

I pushed and pushed and pushed that damn button and all I got out of it was a sore thumb. I came to the stark realization that the whole “self-medication” concept was a crock of shit. I was up and down the entire night and didn’t get much sleep. My back was hurting from the incision and my legs were numb and cold. Without a super-sized shot of pain reliever I just wasn’t going to be able to get comfortable.

Having missed dinner the night before due to the surgery, I was beyond hungry when my breakfast tray arrived. Powdered eggs and microwave sausage links never tasted so good! I think I inhaled everything on the tray in less than thirty seconds flat. So with breakfast out of the way and no possibility of scoring a shot of the good stuff, I began to focus my attention on step one of getting out of the hospital, taking a leak. Not that I was ready to jump up and go home, but as slowly as things in that hospital moved I figured I’d better start working on the list of dismissal prerequisites if I had any chance of getting home by Christmas.

Believe it or not, taking a leak was the biggest hurdle to cross in my quest to be dismissed from the hospital. Since my body was basically asleep from the waist down, the doctors were concerned that I might experience a problem with bladder function and control. If I couldn’t whiz on my own, they would be forced to catheterize me and keep me for a few more days. The last thing I wanted was another radiator hose shoved up my dingus, so I set my mind to completing the task at hand. It took several attempts over an hour or two, but I finally managed to squeeze enough out to satisfy the nurse. She told me that she’d let the doctor know that my plumbing was still functional and see what she could do about getting me out of there.

I spent the next couple of hours pushing the pain medication button every six minutes; not really because I needed it for the pain, more because I knew I was going to end up paying for the whole cartridge and wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth. I wasn’t about to waste a single drop.

The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part VIII: The Road to Recovery

Right before lunchtime, the nurse finally came in with all of the discharge paperwork. She went over the forms and gave me instructions on how to change the bandages covering my incision. Dr. Brown then stopped by and said that he’d need me to make an appointment with his office before Christmas to check my progress and talk about starting physical therapy. He also told me that I was not to do any bending, stooping or lift anything over 10 lbs. for the next 30 days. I let him know that I had long since abandoned my dream of becoming the world’s first 300-pound ninja, and that I was confident I could carry out his safety instructions without a problem. I still couldn’t feel my legs and couldn’t walk; therefore I was issued a shiny new, metallic candy-apple-red walker. It must have been the Corvette of walkers because every 70 year-old in that hospital turned green with envy when the nurse had me take it out for a test drive in the hall.

With my shit packed up, my race-walker in tow and my ass firmly planted in a wheelchair, the nurse rolled me toward the lobby. Life as I knew it had changed during my short time in the hospital. I knew the road to recovery went through physical therapy, but never realized it would take me all the way to a mid-life crisis. I always envisioned my mid-life crisis taking place in Vegas surrounded by silicone-breasted, blond strippers and sports cars. Instead, I got a trip to the hospital, a vomit-covered retard and a walker… As I lay here in bed doing exercises to regain the feeling in my legs, I often wonder how things went so terribly wrong. I keep waiting for the neon light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes life is a cruel, cruel bitch…