My hernia operation yesterday went so well that instead of being the ordeal that I had expected, it was actually something of a pleasure.
How things have changed over 52 years!
My wife got me up there in time, helped me get settled, and then she went off shopping during the hours when she couldn't be in the same room.
Meanwhile all the hospital people were extremely friendly, especially the nurse, who seemed to have an uncanny knack of reading my mind. She blamed her long experience for her ability to anticipate all my questions and concerns.
It was done at Martha Jefferson, the smaller of the two hospitals in Mr. Jefferson's cool little city, Charlottesville. The other is U.Va or the University of Virginia. C'ville is 45 miles north of my house. There are two other hospitals 25 miles to the south, in Lynchburg, a slightly larger metropolis -- Jerry Falwell's town.
The operating room was quite a scene, appearing to promise lots of drama. It was larger than I expected and daunting to me. With age I have become as squeamish about seeing anything having to do with medical stuff on TV as I was as a child looking at horror stuff in movies.
The people -- and there seemed to be a lot of them -- were wearing non-uniform clothing, and some were standing around quite casually, while others were bustling about though also looking calm enough. And there in the middle stood this huge-looking though actually narrow operating table on which little ol' me would be esconsed.
The surgeon and the anesthesia doctor soon arrived, and meanwhile the crew spread-eagled me on the table, which had extensible arms, and they appeared to be strapping down my arms and legs. The strapping felt like extended blood pressure cuffs, which regularly squeezed and relaxed. I found out later that their purpose was to keep blood clots from forming, which can happen during anesthesia.
I couldn't help it -- I look at a lot of crime and action movies on my satellite dish, and all this spreadeagling and wrapping reminded me of prisoners being strapped down and hooked up before suffering lethal injections.
As the nurse had predicted, the anesthesia doctor told me that he was about to give me a med via my IV that would put me under in five or six seconds, and the next thing I would know I would be awake in the recovery room.
I thought I'd fool him. I vowed to stay conscious five or six seconds longer than that by staring at a shiny purplish-gray disc directly overhead, but he won, and indeed an instant later I was fully awake and feeling surprisingly chipper in the recovery room. and the nearly two-hour operation was all over.
I stayed in there for another hour while watching the employees, who seemed to spend nearly half their time writing things on clipboards. Then I was wheeled into the room where they had first installed me, a comfortable little place though suggestive of a prison cell because of the toilet seat, which stood in plain sight right next to the door.
Eventually, besides my wife and the nurse, the surgeon dropped in for a final word. I asked whether I had done anything during the operation to get in the way, and he said that I had done just what I was supposed to do, which was exactly nothing.
Though the nurse had earlier said that the surgeon liked his patients to stay for two or three hours of observation, he decided that I was doing so well that he released me then and there.
I thanked him for doing an excellent job, and I did the same with the nurse while she wheeled me down to the car. The way I was feeling, it was more than obvious that they had done just that.
In turn the nurse said that I was doing better than most patients after that operation, and it meant that I must have a strong constitution, something that hitherto I had never suspected.