October 7, 2003

Tonight I recounted the tale of my appendectomy for Counselor Troi. Over steamy java-type drinks, I was for some reason dragging Troi down some weird hospital memory lane. It went thusly:

I doubled over at work with what I thought were unfairly harsh indigestion pains. Bad scallops. Due to the intervention of my then boss, I was taken to emergency. Once there, and believing I really had little more than extreme gas, I was rushed into an exam room ahead of a woman in labour, a guy with wild coughing fits, and this young dude with barbed wire sticking out both sides of one knee. I thought I somehow didn't deserve such an honor. They take stomach pain very seriously in emergency. Word to the wise - if you have barbed wire protruding from a limb, also include that your stomach hurts something fierce or you may be waiting awhile.

Once in the curtained-off 'exam room' (where I was situated next to a raucous drunk guy handcuffed to a cop and the bed), I was poked and prodded by three doctors in rapid succession. Then came the tests. If there's a test for it, I've taken it. Urine, blood, pregnancy, and I'm fairly certain they even noted my IQ. The tests came back inconclusive. Well, conclusively false for all the things the tests were designed to screen for, but inconclusive in determining the cause of my stomach pain. Which, apparently, when combined with fairly pointed jabs in the abdomen, is as close to a positive test for appendicitis you're ever going to get. There is no way to be sure. I asked what would happen if they got inside and discovered my then-bruised appendix was actually fine. "We'll take it out anyway" was the matter-of-fact reply. WHY? The answer should be filed under the heading 'Things You Should Know But Are Never Told': if the doctors were to leave the healthy appendix in and sew you back up, years down the road if your appendix really did flare up, doctors at that point would probably rule out appendicitis as a possible ailment due to the scar you would then have at the precise location of your appendix. Since there's no actual test for appendicitis and you would apparently have already had yours out, they would conclude it was something else and while they were looking for an answer, your appendix would burst and you'd die. (Loose translation in laymen terms.) Good to know.

I went in for surgery. A funny thing to note is that at this point I was about twenty-two years old but just prior to anesthetizing me they suddenly realized I had no parental consent signature for the procedure. Panic ensued. You need parental consent if you're under sixteen. Uh... excuse me... doc? I've since started taking that as a compliment. I don't even use Oil of Olay! But I digress.

After surgery I was in a fog of anesthesia. I vaguely remember being irritated by something on my mouth and nose that I would clumsily push away which turned out to be my oxygen mask. Being that I was laying on my back, nurse heads kept popping disconcertingly in and out of my field of view against a backdrop of ceiling tiles. I don't know how they think their appearing and reappearing overhead will aid in overcoming a patient's general sense of disorientation. It was all very bewildering. I was told, as I pushed the mask off my face for what felt like the fiftieth time, that the doctor wanted to talk to me. I heard this drift to me down a long hallway. "... the... octor... see... yoooouu... ow..." And then another head popped into my circle of vision - POP. It was Stephen Baldwin. It's hard to describe the moment now. I mean, at the time all I felt was a sort of dull and unrelated shock followed immediately by an excitement that felt not unlike motion sickness. Stephen Baldwin was talking to me from the end of that same long tunnel the nurses were in and he was saying something that sounded like "... how... eelin... fter... gery...". I felt it was important that I seize my opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed his work. "I loved you in 'The Usual Suspects'" I told him. "Ah lvvvd... oo inda... shusha sushpets" was closer to what came out. Stephen smiled rather sympathetically and pulled his head back out of my view. "Shhteevn!" I garbled, reaching for him and knocking a nurse in the eye in the process.

Hours later I re-awoke in a nice bed with hospital cornered sheets and a retractable writing/Jell-o desk at the side. A male nurse popped his head in with a grin and asked how I felt. "Gravol," I pleaded with a groan. Turns out his name was Vince. Either way he returned in a bit with a lovely little bag of liquid drugs that made me feel light and giddy and possibly able to beam without use of a transporter. He grinned again and then said a sentence I daresay nobody else has ever heard during their hospital stay. "I hear Stephen Baldwin visited you after surgery".

Yeah. Counselor Troi found the whole thing pretty damn funny too.

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