Sunday, April 19, 2009



"Barry! Barry! It's time to wake up! You have to wake up now! Your operation is over. You're in Recovery and its time for you to wake up! Come on Barry, open those eyes!"

The voice was very insistent.

I opened my eyes in a large room lined with beds and nurses rushing in constant motion.

The room lurched.

"How do you feel?", the nurse by my bedside asked, one hand on my stomach counting my breaths.

"Fine," I said.

"No. I'm not making casual conversation. Tell me what you're feeling."

I took a physical inventory of all my aches and pains. "I'm dizzy. My stomach feels queasy. My teeth hurt."

"Okay," she smiled. "That all sounds pretty normal. Those should pass. I'll be back to check on you in a few minutes. Let any of the nurses know if you need anything."

And she was gone into the rush of nurses moving up and down the room from bed to bed, like dancers in some strange, choreography.

And I rested and just went with the flow. Minutes passed. Then she was back again, checking my vital signs, hand on my stomach counting my breaths.

"For a big guy, you've a very slow breather. You must have very good lungs."

"All the girls admire me for that. Its my finest quality." I tell her. She looks at me strangely. Is he well enough to be telling jokes or is he delusional?

"And your blood pressure is 100 over 64. For a guy your size that's amazing. Why are you scrunched up like that?" She asked me. "Is your back hurting?"

I became aware that my back was in considerable pain and tell her that.

"Alright, we'll move you to a more comfortable bed back in the day surgery ward."

She called an orderly who hoisted me on to a stretcher and wheeled me out of the Recovery room down long corridors, the ceiling tiles swimming above, reminding me that my stomach was still queasy. I shut my eyes and felt better. But my back was still hurting.

In the day surgery ward, I was offered a choice of pain killers, two regular strength Tylenol or morphine. The Tylenol didn't seem strong enough to do the job and the morphine sounded like over kill. I chose the Tylenol. But it did little for the increasing pain.

Doctor Chan arrived to debrief me about my surgery. "Your throat had closed up to the size of a pin prick." He told me, demonstrating the size by curling his thumb and forefinger to about the head of a small nail. I've opened you up to more this size." His fingers demonstrating an opening the size of a quarter. "You should be able to eat more comfortably. I don't doubt your back is in considerable pain. During the procedure, you were reflexively arching to the pressure. It may cause you a bit of discomfort."

And he was gone. Onto the next surgery.

Then Linda and her brother Steve were there to pick me up and I walked to the car in agony. Knife like twinges shooting up the right side of my back.

At home I took a couple of extra strength Tylenol. I twisted into a kind of fetal position which seemed to lesson the agony. Temporary relief from the sharp knives running up my back. "You should have taken the morphine," Linda told me.

The phone rang. It was my daughter Kathy. "He should have taken the Morphine." She told Linda, who gives me an "I-told-you-so-look".

Linda positioned an ice pack under my back for the pain. The phone rang again. It was my daughter Heather. "He should have taken the Morphine," she told Linda.

Linda sent Steve to the drug store for some A535 Rub and rubed my back with it after the icing. The room suddenly wreaked with the smell. The phone rangs. Again. It's my daughter-in-law the nurse. "He should have taken the morphine," she told Linda.

Suddenly everyone was a Saturday night quarterback.

So, if I've learned anything from this its that I should have taken the morphine. This is day three since the surgery and I still have twinges in my back. But my throat doesn't hurt and today I can have real food for the first time.

And next time, if there is a next time, I'll take the morphine.