FLASHBACK: Here's one of the funnier, lighter of my medical tales. It's a bit long, but I think you'll enjoy it.
“Professor Plum, in the Dining Room with a Cabernet”.© wtf/rle
Monday June 11, 2001, was a typical day. I came home from work with the plans of packing and moving the last few things from the kitchen, in anticipation of starting the gut rehab-remodeling project. I decided that I’d roll up the antique carpet in the dining room and have the cleaners retrieve it, to keep it from getting any worse for the wear during the rehabbing. The only glitch was, that the front legs of the baker’s cabinet were parked over the edge of the rug. No problem! I can gently lift each leg, while pulling the rug out from under it. I get down on all fours to accomplish this task. The procedure is going smoothly until the front left leg, which is being a little problematic. The pad is sticking to the floor. I’m tugging, while hoisting the front left leg up, when my tinker toy-esque wine rack chooses this moment to show its structural instability and 14 bottles of wine come tumbling down upon me. I am conked on the top of my head at the back right side. I look in front of me to see a busted bottle of Zinfandel soaking into the aged, dulled hues which were once a beautiful tawny taupe, brilliant sage, ashes of rose, and delicate azure blue. Damn!
I immediately grab the site of the conking to rub out the pain. Feeling something warm and wet, I pull my hands back quickly, and look at them, and in that brief millisecond as reality strikes, quickly deduce, “shit, that’s not Merlot on my fingers!”
In the flash of cognitive dissonance, I’m in a quandary, “Do I tend to my profusely bleeding skull, or try to save the carpet?!” Even though I had just suffered blunt trauma to the posterior of my cranium, rationality did kick into gear, as I comprehend that wine AND blood are much more difficult to get out of the carpet, than merely wine. I do manage to find the round box of Morton salt, which had been packed away and pour it over the wine spillage (I am a gay man, and DO read Martha, after all!)
I run to the bathroom and grab the burgundy polo hand towel hanging by the sink and press it to the back of my blood dripping skull. (Note to self-- Ralph Lauren’s Burgundy Polo towels soak up a profusion of blood with nary a trace of the sanguineous residue. The shade is a perfect match for human blood!) With bloody towel compressed against the back of my skull, I release that final grasp of denial and ascertain that I am indeed going to have a date with the Emergency Room.
While proficient at multi-tasking, I don’t think that I can drive, shift, and compress a bloody towel at my throbbing skull all at the same time. I call my friend John. “John, I think I need to go to the Emergency Room!” John’s roommate, Douglas has a car and reluctantly agrees to take me to the Emergency Room.
Once I’m in the car, John immediately begins quizzing me on current history to rule out concussion. “Who’s the president?”
When I reply, “THAT ASSHOLE!” John is convinced there is no brain trauma.
Douglas drops us off. We enter the ER. There is NO one stationed at the security stand just inside the door. No triage nurse. I wander around to the registration area, with this bloody towel hanging from my head, and am greeted with, “Have you signed in? Did you see the triage nurse?”
“No, there’s no one there”, I reply.
“You have to see the nurse before coming to registration.” I repeat this scenario three times before Arlita gets it through HER skull that no one is at the triage station. God forbid I don’t follow the ER protocol with precision, bleeding skull or not!
Nearly two hours pass. I finally see the triage nurse who confirms that I have split open my head. I was ever so grateful for this confirming diagnosis, as the blood drenched towel wasn’t conclusive evidence up to this point.
After about an hour, my name is finally called. I get placed in bed number 6. I am greeted by two nurses in succession, who ask me the same questions, promise to return, but dis me for some one whose malady is more emergent (or interesting) than mine. Another hour later, a fourth year resident (I asked, as I knew that this was new resident switch week from my days of working with residency programs) approaches me to tell me she’s going to take care of me. I get the option of sutures or staples, with the caveat that if I opt for the staples, I’ll be out in 10 minutes. (She lied.) Also, being the drama queen, I determine that staples will be much more effective to the story, when I am called upon to recant it. I am then seen by the Attending physician to confirm his Resident’s diagnosis. He wants to hear the story of how this happened. I tell him it’s a stupid story. He loves stupid stories and cajoles me into telling. He appreciates the story; we exchange few tidbits of humor for my benefit (and at my expense).
Both, the Resident and Attending told me that the worst part would be anesthetizing the area before co-joining the flaps of flesh. This time, I was told the truth. This could have something to do with the fact that Madame/Dr. Resident pulled out a syringe that normally is reserved for the large animal clinic at the zoo. This syringe is so large that excess lydocaine which does not go into the skin, comes rushing down my neck and back in rivulets drenching my T-shirt.
Once she thought I was sufficiently numbed (she was mistaken), the staple gun comes out. I get the “Type A” physician (I know, what physician ISN’T type A), who is the consummate perfectionist and doesn’t like the way some of the staples have gone in, so she digs them out and staples again, repeatedly Although I can’t feel (most of) the staples going in, I can feel the pressure she is using on the staple gun like she is trying stretch spandex and secure it so tightly that it no longer possesses the quality of elasticity. But, the part that hurt the most was that she didn’t need to shave away any hair. The male pattern hair loss negated this need.
She is finally satisfied with her skin flap fastening acumen. She tells me I need to come back in 7 days to have the staples removed. I don’t relish the thought of sitting in the ER for another 3 hours next week for a two-minute procedure. I asked whether I could just go to my PCP and have him do it. I’m told that most docs in private practice don’t have the special staple remover medical device (which I later discover is also a lie). I speak to her with sufficient lingo from the medical lexicon, she acquiesces and gives me the staple remover and tells me that I can take it to my PCP.
Finally, I believe that I am ready to go home! Au contraire! The hospital computer system crashes and they can’t complete my discharge form. As this hospital is a member of the parent company with whom I used to be employed, this piece of information was sadly, not a surprise. The attending physician returns and tells me he’ll hand process my discharge, so I can leave. It’s after 11:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, John has been out calling various friends from his cell phone. My story has been securely placed into the fag phone tree system, so I can expect to see a story in next week’s edition of “Gay Chicago”. Our friend Steve agrees to come and pick us up and take us to our respective homes
On the following Tuesday, I visit Dr. Matt, who begins the process of staple removal. Ms./Dr. Fourth Year Resident fastened my flaps of skin so tightly, that Dr. Matt had difficulty getting the staple pliers underneath the staples. This WAS a painful as it sounds. He asks me if I want the area numbed. I replied with, “If you’re going to use a huge ass needle like they did in the ER, the answer is NO!” He comes back with a normal looking syringe, begins to shoot the area. Gee, when you use the appropriate sized needle, it’s not nearly as painful, and is actually a tolerable level of pain. Upon their removal, I finally get to see up close and personal the staples that have resided in my skull for the past week. MY GOD THEY WERE HUGE! I was expecting something of a rather thin/narrow gauge, something akin to sutures. I’m amazed that these strips of metal didn’t set off the detector when I left the ER that night! As souvenirs, Dr. Matt gave me the staple pliers, bent staples, as well as some gauze pads for the minor bleeding as a result of the staple extractions.
There are three amazing things about this story:
This is the first time in my 40 years that I’ve had to be pieced together (by thread or staple) due to accident or mishap. (Given my history, this is TRULY amazing!)
Out of the 14, I only lost one bottle of wine, a Zinfandel.
My dog, who has a propensity to be high strung, (especially as her Dad was screaming expletives and running around with a bloody towel hanging at the back of his head) maintained an incredibly docile demeanor throughout this whole scenario.
So, when I tell you that I have “splitting headache”, I am NOT speaking hyperbole.
Quote of the week:
“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."
~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president
~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president