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Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 8

It's Like Pulling Teeth!

I’ve been busy! Weeks ago in preparation for radiation I was told I needed to have two wisdom teeth pulled. Apparently some teeth have the ability to abscess during radiation. If this occurs they are unable to remove them during the radiation process. The jaw bone may disintegrate. In fact I was told any type of tooth extraction in the future will be extremely dangerous.

I’m told to wait for a schedule to show up on my patient web page for this to be set up. The phone rings 4:30 PM. “Mr. Walin we have you scheduled for surgery at noon tomorrow."

“There must be some mistake. I had my surgery weeks ago.” He explains it’s for my tooth extraction. “Oh OK.” I'm also told to arrive NPO, a Latin term meaning nothing by mouth. I can not eat or drink anything after midnight.

The next morning the phone rings 9 AM. “Mr. Walin can you come in early?” Hummm I just got up, need to shower, change bandages, and get on the bus. Maybe I can make it by 11:00 AM, an hour earlier. “OK get here as soon as you can!”

Typical lately, I rush. I get to the hospital. 20 people in the lobby wait as I check in and immediately rushed to a prep area. It feels like an emergency of some kind. I’m given a cap, gown, compression socks, and booties and told to change. Odd, this is what you wear when you have major surgery. I’m having two teeth pulled. Hummm…

I change and they put me on a gurney and an anesthesiologist shows up to place an IV line. The same man that put my IV line in for my tongue surgery. I question, does everybody realize I’m only having two teeth pulled?? They just smile and say, “Yes sir.”

My nurse tells me my dentist and surgeon are on their way. BOTH???? When they arrive we’ll get you into the OR. What…Operating Room for two teeth??? A dentist, a surgeon, a nurse, an anesthesiologist and an operating room???? FOR TWO TEETH??? The next thing I know I’m out like a light and in recovery.

As I wake (less two wisdom teeth, half as smart as I was) I’m hungry and ask the nurse to rustle up some cans of food (remember I’m on a feeding tube) She does and tells me, “Good news! I’ve found you a really nice room!”

A room??? For what?? I’m told I’m staying over night. FOR TWO TEETH????? Over and over I ask, “You realize I only had two teeth pulled?? And all I get is, “Yes sir,” with a smile.

By 4 PM I’m escorted to a wonderful private room and ask when I can go home. I’m told I’m spending the night! FOR TWO TEETH!!!???

I get myself settled, use the bathroom, and setup my gravity feed bag for dinner. The nurse comes in for her introduction and says, “Mr. Walin what are you doing? You need to stay in bed!” I try to explain I’ve only had two teeth pulled. She demands, “Get in bed and call me if you need to get up to use the restroom.” Been there done that already. I try to explain I’m fine. Then she says, “It’s nice to have a patient that’s not incoherent.” Huh??? She further explains that I’m in the brain cancer ward and the patients here for the most part are incoherent.

It’s now dawning on me that this is one elaborately crafted joke. I come in for a simple tooth extraction. They take two “wisdom” teeth and I end up in the “brain” ward only to be pampered as if I were on vacation. So, I settle in and enjoy the rest of my night with a smile.

Say Good Night Gracie!

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Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi