Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Front End Alignment

OK, I can steer better than the truck in the photo - in fact steering is only an issue for me in that the plate in support of my ankle implant is like a bent tie-rod on a car's front end suspension. The plate is scraping the bone and causing discomfort so Dr. DeOrio, on a followup-up visit, agreed to remove the plate (not needed anymore) and do a general tune-up. I sent out an email to several people last year in anticipation of the new ankle operation:
"jim mullen"
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"Jack Arnold" , "Al Bahr" , "Helen Bahr" , "Jennifer Basco" , "Tricia Bissett" ... more
Hi -
I went back for my 1 year check-up on my ankle. It is always fun to watch the surgeon look at the x-rays. He brings all the focus of a teenage boy with his first look at a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. He thought everything was fine, but thought the ankle could use some work. In other words, like a car, my ankle needs a minor front end alignment.
The VA may not pay for this procedure since I can function as is, but I elected to have this done since the metal/bone issue is not going to get better as I age. So I may be asking for three future prayer requests (a Biblical number!) if this comes about.

1 Pray the surgeon loses some common sense. I want to have the operation (about 2 hours) without anesthesia. I once read someplace that we lose 250,000 brain cells everyday. With anesthesia, I seem to lose more and am "out of it" a lot longer than the average bear. So hopefully, with a "local", I can recover quicker and better. If you think this request bizarre, think again. We've all been to the dentist........but:

2. If I can have the local, I don't want to be listening to power tools for hours - I've already gone through wood shop in high school - I want to bring in my IPOD music player. Why not? People bring cameras in the OR. I will need to give consideration of my playlist and may require help to pick a playlist that is interesting and pleasurable, but does not have me clapping or snapping my fingers; I don't think they would like that.

3. I forget; that fact informs request number 1.

Carpe Deum

Yes, after the implant operation (see first post on the blog) at Duke Univ. Hospital November 2009, I had to deal with the anesthesia side-effects, IV infused pain medication and the nausea they caused. I remember impressing upon Donna that I had to have my IPOD in the room. I don't know why. But I proceeded, first chance I had, to search through all my songs trying to find the appropriate theme for the day. James Taylor's "Walking Man", Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" were my top choices. Later that day, I watched the housekeeper mop the long corridor outside my room. I surmised he was not properly executing the "S" mopping technique and accompanying two bucket system which we know is one of the foundations of modern life.

I called my son Adam on the cell phone and asked him to schedule a meeting of the entire Duke housekeeping staff in my room forthwith. I'm sure my IV pain medication played no part in this.

I then set about to organize bullet points for my floor cleaning presentation, but couldn't get past the first one. the bullet point just kept floating around the room, eventually picking up a thermal and nesting inside a squiggle divot on an acoustical ceiling tile in my room. The bullet point stared at me all night which was alright since I was in a private room and needed the company.

I wanted to avoid all that the second time around. I met with the surgeon and made my request. He said no, giving it all the time consideration my dog would give ingesting a porterhouse steak. I can't say I blame him though, having a patient "alert" during an operation is probably an oxy-moron. But I did get some really good tune suggestions from the email - especially from Mark Roessel; "Bad to the Bone", "I'm Walkin", "Born to Run", and "Rocky Road to Dublin". Thanks Mark.

I was operated on July 26th through the VA at Davis Surgical Center at Duke in Durham and as those things go, it went very well. My past experience has been when prepping a patient for the operation, the pre-op medical staff has all the comity of yard gnomes - and that is not a complaint. I want the staff to be full of focus and competence and if that must be at the expense of answering all my dumb questions - then good. At a certain point in the pre-op process I turn into a four year old who has just discovered the question mark:
"Is that a needle?"
"Is that for me?"
"What are you going to do with that?"
"What's in the bag?"
"What's that drug that's making me so sleepy?"
"What do you mean you haven't given me any sleepy drugs yet?"
"Why not?"

So kudos to Betty,Connie, and Stephanie - you did a great job and put up with me. Because of you I can use "nice" in the same sentence as "surgery"! Thank you!

Minor point: Davis Surgical may want to re-think the glass encased wall hanging collection of antique surgical saws located in the main lobby. Ditto the VAMC in Durham - Many of the framed prints that grace the corridors and offices of the VA are by Claude Monet a father of French impressionism and a draft dodger from the Franco-Prussian War. You know what though? Monet is superb! If the draft dodging doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me.

I'm at home recuperating and am thinking of changing the Mullen coat of arms...what do you think?

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