There are a lot of words pinging around in that space inside my head -- sometimes they come together and make some kind of sense. When they do, I put them here, to make room for more.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Our Amazing Healthcare System

My dear, dear friend Michele recently had a hysterectomy. While I have never had this procedure myself, my understanding is that it involves removing an organ from your abdominal cavity. They can do this nowadays through your belly button, though how they get the uterus out through that teeny, tiny thing is beyond me. But then, I don’t have a medical degree.

The procedure (or “surgery”) is done on an outpatient basis, meaning she went in in the morning and was home in time for dinner. This might seem a bit extreme, given that she was, after all, having an organ removed. Call me crazy, but that seems to call for just a little more time hanging with medical professionals.

They told her to come in at 6 am for her 7 am surgery, that she’d be in recovery by 9:15, and that once she was able to pee on her own, she’d be good to go. So to speak. So she got there, they put her under, and sure enough, when they woke her, she looked at the clock in recovery, and it said 9:15. This is pretty impressive, given that most doctors can’t accurately predict how long you’ll be in their waiting rooms. Once she’d spent the requisite (read: short) amount of time in the first recovery room, they took her to the second recovery area, where her husband would be able to come in and visit her, and put her in a hospital bed. The kind on wheels.

Well, she lay there, recovering as it were, for awhile, just trying not to feel woozy and nauseous. She’d never actually had surgery before, and the anesthesia was making her throw up. But at some point, between puking and the pain, she realized she really had to pee. She got a nurse, who, in an empathetic nurse way, helped her up out of the bed, stagger to the john, and get her situated on the toilet so she could do her business. The nurse then left. Michele peed, finished up, and got up to go back to bed, at which time she realized, they really meant it literally when they said she’d be good to go once she peed: the bed had been removed from the room, and in its place was a chair. One of those uncomfortable recliner-looking chairs the hospital provides when they don’t want people getting too comfortable and staying too long. Which meant, it was time for her to leave. Good thing she only had ONE organ removed.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I just had my annual mammogram -- like a good girl, I have one every year -- and honestly, this one was the most uncomfortable one ever. And by uncomfortable I mean painful. I can't believe no one has come up with a better way to look inside our breasts. It just makes no sense to take what is essentially a round object and to literally work to LIFT IT off your chest, yank it sideways, and then squash it flat. It brought me to tears.

The technician worked me like clay, as if she thought there were no muscles or tissue, never mind nerve endings, in any part of my body. I get that this is a job to her, but honestly, I was standing right there, a fully realized human being. I couldn't even get her to crack a grin, but once she started manhandling -- I mean, manipulating -- my breasts, it was clear she was all business. I stopped trying to talk, gritted my teeth, and just tried to make it go as quickly as possible.

And seriously, I don't understand why she doesn't just have me take that silly top off as soon as I walk in. Instead, we both pretend she isn't going to not only see but touch both of my breasts by the end of my time there. It makes no sense.

This is the 21st century; I challenge someone out there to come up with a kindler, gentler way to do this whole sordid procedure.