Simple Ideas

Body and Fender Work

Blogging | April 23, 2011

"If we didn't do this surgery, there would be a dent in your forehead."

Not that not doing the surgery was an option once they found the breaks. It was a simple call to go forward given the possible outcomes if it were left alone. First they had to figure out just how bad it was. Even though they did a CAT scan, they couldn't really be sure until they opened me up.

So they were getting me ready for all that. Possibly, they would have to cut me from ear to ear and peel off my forehead to get to the wound. But on the other hand the gash was big enough that they might be able to work through that opening without adding an 8 inch scar across my dome. It could go either way, so they were going to shave off what would look like a baseball warning track across my head. And oh yeah, they would have to shave part of my belly in case they needed some fat to pack the area. Then there was the possible bone graft from another part of my skull. All in all, they were ranging far and wide in the event they need replacement parts.

But in the end, what they would do would not be a whole lot different than what my Dad used to do when he did body and fender work. He had to pop out a dent and then get it lined up with the rest of the structure, then smooth up the surface. I'd watched that other process often enough that using that analogy was easier to process than say having my skull cracked open and my body harvested while I was alive. It's a matter of perspective is all.

I was not too freaked about the surgery itself as this was my second time under a general anesthesia. The first time I really was freaked, not sure if I'd wake up. But now I knew I could tolerate the process. So it went from "Maybe i'm that 1 in 100,000" to "I'm ok unless the anesthesiologist passes out during surgery."

In pre-op, I met the anesthesiologist and verified that he was a coffee drinker. That was good enough for me. He looked over my medical history and the answers to my lifestyle questions and asked "Are you trying to live forever?"

"Nah" I explained "I had three of my four grandparents pass away in their early 50's. I thought that was kind of inconsiderate of them. I just wanted to be around long enough to be there for the grand kids."

"Fair enough, you have been through this before so you should be fine, but there is that 1 in 100,000 risk..."

Yes, yes I knew. But I didn't expect to wake up like the first time I'd gone through surgery-truly shocked to be alive. This was a day at the office for everyone involved. A serious day for sure, but nothing out of the ordinary. They gave me the pre-op tranquilizer. That hit my system in under 30 seconds and elicited a "woo-hoo!"

I have a vague memory of arriving in the OR and the docs there saying they were going to add a second IV. But I wouldn't see that until I awoke.

That was my next memory. I was in post op and the nurse there was telling me that my O2 dropped too much every time I nodded off. I told her that she should not give me anything for the pain as I'd rather use the pain to stay awake. I then started to explain that I need O2 to my brain to do my job and that you know, brain damage would be inconvenient.

There were only two or three other people in post op and 9 or 10 empty beds. The rest of the folks were up and out, but I was running late. The post op staff was suffering. It was 7:30. my 2-4 hours of surgery ended up taking 5 hours. None of the post op people even had a chance to make it to lunch, so they were famished. I was trying to help them get to their dinner by getting out of the room quickly.

My two main surgeons came in and gave me the news. It was the best case scenario. They didn't have to block the sinus, graft bone, graft fat or make the big ear to ear cut. They put three titanium plates in my forehead and removed a sliver of bone that was too small to save, but that would heal over when new bone tissue grew. All good. I was on top of the world, even though I was still under the influence of the general anesthesia.

An orderly started to wheel me back to my ward. I suspect that orderlies have to sign non disclosure agreements to do their jobs. Otherwise their would be a few dozen orderly websites that mirror the "shit my dad says" blog.

My inspiration for post op chatter had to do with a recent book and an old TV show. The book was Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw. In that book he mentions that "While Oprah is talking about you book on TV, you sell 55,000 copies a minute." That was a lot on the one hand. But she never talks about my books, so I was safe. But I looked down and noticed that my pant were gone and I only had a gown on causing me to put 2 and 2 and anesthesia together and assert "Oprah Winfrey stole my pants!"

After making that assertion a few times I was on to George Costanza from Seinfeld. This was the "shrinkage episode' where he run is naked after a cold swim and passes his girlfriend who sees his reduced manliness.He asks "Women know about shrinkage after a cold swim right?" Apparently they didn't. But you know how this works now in my clouded mind. AI did an inventory under my gown after 6 hours in a 50 degree OR. I could then do more math and follow up my first proclamation with "Oprah stole my pants and shrunk my dick!"

I think the orderly rescinded his NDA and is starting up a blog as I write this..

That aside, it was an uneventful day in the body shop.

The way dad would have done it.


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