The Argument Against Little Green Men

Shaun had her knee replaced.

I asked the Universe for patience, faith, steady surgical hands, good thoughts, prayers, and (please, please, PLEASE…) humor.

The Universe spun its wheel, and we landed the winning Power ball Lottery Number for all of the above.

Bing bing bing bing bing!

Amusing event #1: Good Little Lemmings.

Alarm at 4 am. Arrive promptly at hospital at 4:45 am.

At her pre-op appointments, Shaun was sternly told three times she MUST be in hospital pre-op room at 5 am. They also made her sign and initial a sheet of paper stating the same. They left a phone message reminding her: 5 am…or else. (Ixnay on the surgery-ay.)

We wait in the dark lobby under the watchful eye of a security guard with a soft spot. He didn’t want to watch us dripping in the rain on the other side of the glass. Outside the locked hospital. The locked hospital with the locked pre-op room. That opens at 6:00.

Okay, maybe I should have been a bit more specific with The Universe on what is ‘humorous‘ and what is: ‘do you think they disinfect these chairs?’

Amusing Event #2: Highly Caffeinated, Enthusiastic Surgical Team.

Shaun is barely settled in her pre-op curtain-icle. I get to go back with her. Within minutes, a bunch of eager, tall, slender people in green scrubs flock and flit around her gurney. Introductions are cheerfully made over the sound of surgical gloves being snapped on. I’m strangely self-conscious of my sweat pants and bed-hair. It’s like some sort of macabre early morning cocktail party. Why didn’t I dress better? Put on make up? Use deodorant?

They are all so…cheerful. They look like happy kids milling around a school bus on field trip day.

The anesthesiologist chooses this moment to say to Shaun:

“Huh. Weird EKG in your chart. You got any heart problems? No? Have you ever died under anesthetic before? No?” Looks around.  “Okay, we’re good to roll people!”

As an after thought, before walking out of the curtain-icle, he says, “Don’t worry, if you die, well just resuscitate you.” He pats her hand indulgently. Gifts her with a practiced smile.

Before the anxiety building in my body can form into something as solid as words (“Weird EKG?! WHAT WEIRD EKG??” pause “Wait. Have you ever died BEFORE?”), the green suited people put green gloved hands on the gurney rails, and start moving her quickly, as if this were an emergency. Possibly they felt the anethesiologist had just turned this is to a critical situation, and they were trying to save all their lives.

A nurse waves me in the direction of the unlocked doors: “Surgery waiting room, out there, on the left.”

Shaun is rolling in the other direction, to toward the doors with pass code locks. The nurse bends sweetly down over Shaun’s head. It’s clear she’s about to impart something comforting. I feel relieved.  A little too soon.

What she actually says, with a lilting bounce: “Let’s go! Time to cut you open!”

Mayday! Mayday! I can’t process that…I’m still stuck on…weird EKG and casual have you ever died under anesthesia before? 

Shaun glances, pre-op drug-befuddled, at me over her shoulder: “…cut you open? Gah. ME. They mean cut me op…”

And the door slams shut after her.

The Universe is definitely messing with me.

There are no little green men with sharp implements, bright lights, and a gleeful lust to slice open a  human body.

We had it all wrong.  They’re tall.

And they look just like us.

It Came From Outer Space

If we were fit, freshly showered, wearing clean clothes, and bothered to slap on some makeup.

Things You Don’t Want to Hear in Your Doctor’s Office

B-52 noseart
Image via Wikipedia

Before Shaun went to the orthopedic surgeon, she had to go to our regular doctor.  Some sort of insurance rule. The day after the accident, the staff squeezed her in at the end of the day. Really nice.

The doctor came in, smiling.  She looks down at the chart, and then up at Shaun.

Thing #1:

“So what happened?”, she says.

We look at each other. Um. ER report? They faxed the x-rays and test results to her office while we were still in the ER.

Shaun dutifully explains.

“Ow”, says the doc, wrinkling her nose at the horror of it, and distractedly shaking her finger, “I bet that hurt.”

Shaun, nodded, asking, “Did you read the x-rays? They couldn’t tell if it was fractured”. She hopes this doctor might be able to give her an answer.

Thing #2:

“Ewwww”, the doc shudders, “X-rays? No, of course not. I can’t look at the pictures.  I’d be sick”, she laughs, stares at her finger, adds, “I read the report.”

We look at each other. A doctor who gets queasy over an x-ray of a dislocated thumb? How did she make it out of medical school?

Thing #3:

“Excuse me”, the doctor says, “this really hurts, I’m afraid I have to deal with it before I see you”.

We stare at her blankly.  Shaun can’t take the medication the ER prescribed for pain: it’s clear she’s allergic. She’s in a lot of pain, and covered in hives.

Thing #4:

“Paper cut”, Dr. says, holding up her finger, so we can see.  “This little sucker  hurts like the dickens.  I’ll be right back.”

She leaves.

We don’t speak. Did she just leave a patient in pain, with a hand the size of a lamb shank, because she had a paper cut?

Shaun can feel me winding up.  “Down, girl”, she says.  “I can’t deal with that and you going off”.


I imagine chasing the doctor with a sheet of printer paper, slicing edge forward. I clamp my mouth shut. Getting mouthy will lengthen the process of Shaun becoming pain free.

The doctor returns, wrapping a Bugs Bunny band-aid around her finger. “Sorry, I know it’s stupid, but these things really hurt!” She has a hard time wrenching her attention back to Shaun: her eyes keep straying to Bugs Bunny.

Shaun stares at her.

“Nothing like yours though, of course!”, she adds, hastily.

I back down. The woman has shame. I do an emotional reboot.

Shaun asks if there is something she can take that won’t give her  hives.  The doctor says, “yes, there is”. We leave with a new prescription.

In the car, we turn to each other while I crank the engine, and say simultaneously: paper cut?!? and start giggling. Shaun says, “Seriously? I can’t actually LOOK at your x-rays, because I’ll throw UP?”

(If there was a disaster calendar, it was hidden, or we were both too deeply in shock to notice.)