Thursday, July 09, 2009

“Knee Go Boom: Part Three”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to readers: What follows here is the latest installment of my journey into personal injury and rehabilitation.


When my scheduled day of surgery arrived, a bit of superstition took hold. I wore my ‘lucky’ black T-shirt from Las Vegas, and a pair of Ohio State athletic shorts.

Any form of positive karma seemed welcome. Especially because I had never been in the hospital, before.

Liz, my wife, was already dressed. Her pink jumpsuit made my vision blur. Carefully, she recited the pre-admission checklist that’d I’d been given.

“No coffee or breakfast this morning?” she said with authority.

“Just some fried pig’s feet and okra,” I replied. My belly felt uncomfortably empty.

“Honey!” she implored. “Be serious!!”

“Be serious,” I wondered aloud. “Is that on my list?”

She growled in hushed tones, like a simmering cat. “Stop it! This is important.”

My eyes were heavy. “Okay. Nothing to eat or drink.”

“Did you take your medicines?” she said like a schoolmaster.

“Yes,” I nodded. “Of course. I chewed them up, dry.”

“Rodney!!!” she screeched. “You were allowed a sip of water.”

“Was that on the list?” I asked.

She flipped her auburn hair, impatiently. “Read it for yourself!”

“But, aren’t you in charge of the list?” I snorted.

My spouse reddened with frustration. She threw down the instructions. “Would you rather do all of this yourself? Dr. Csonka can fix your knee without my help!”

“No,” I said, submissively. “Sorry, sorry, sorry. Let’s start again.”

She bit her lip. “Okay. Well, we’d better get going. It takes awhile to get you prepared before they actually do anything…”

I limped to the car with my cane, and paperwork. As we drove to Geauga Hospital, Bobby Darin’s classic ‘Mack the Knife’ played on WMJI. It was a musical omen that made my insides tremble.

Liz offered encouragement from behind the wheel. “This will be over before you know it. Just relax!”


A friendly nurse offered direction through the inner maze of hospital cubicles. I took comfort in realizing that her name was ‘Liz’ - just like my significant other.
Her scrubs were adorned with festive images of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

In the staging area, I readied myself with a hospital gown, slipper socks, and what looked like a shower cap. Then, pre-op questioning began.

It took only a moment before my guide was dumbfounded.

“Ever had surgery before?” she asked, cheerfully.

“No,” I answered.

“Not even your tonsils out as a kid?” she said with disbelief.

“No,” I repeated.

“No broken bones?” she puzzled, peering at my chart through oversized glasses.
“No,” I re-repeated.

“Never had anesthesia?” she said curiously.

“No,” I echoed.

“Never had an I-V?” she wheezed.

“No,” I re-re-repeated.

“Never had serious medical care?” she squeaked.

“No,” I said with fatigue. “All the bad luck in our family went to my little brother. I’ve been very fortunate…”

“I’m sure he didn’t like that!” the nurse laughed.

“No, not at all,” I agreed. “Guess I won the birth lottery.”

“And… how old are you?” she asked with amazement.

“Forty-seven,” I boasted.

She scribbled on her clipboard. “Hmmm. Well Mr. Ice, we promise to take very good care of you.”

I forced out a smile. “Thanks!”

Dr. Csonka arrived as we finished the questionnaire. His upbeat mood stilled the shaking in my belly.

“Well, Rod, we’re almost ready for the kickoff,” he exclaimed. “How do you feel?”

Anxiety made me blurt out an honest reply. “I feel like putting this off for awhile.”

The doctor slapped my shoulder. “Nah, don’t say that! Your knee will be better than ever after this procedure. Then you can get back to jogging, playing Frisbee, and riding your motorcycle… all that good stuff!”

“Jogging?” I said with confusion. “Haven’t done any of that.”

He slapped my shoulder once more, for emphasis. “Give it a try! It will help with your weight, blood pressure, and sense of well being. Trust me!”


My ride to the Operating Room was like something from a documentary on the Discovery Channel. After passing through a gauntlet of medical machines, technicians and buzzing work stations, the air temperature dropped. I realized that we had now entered a special chamber. One purposefully arranged around a single, narrow bed in the middle.

I gulped hard, with recognition. This was where the doctor would work his magic.

Having already surrendered my glasses, I couldn’t actually focus on the nurse and anesthesiologist that attended to my needs. But their voices were soothing.

“Do you like cartoons?” the gas doctor muttered.

His question was completely off-topic. But it offered a welcome distraction.

“Umm… of course,” I agreed, while trying to center myself on the table. “Especially Bugs Bunny and any of the Warner Brothers stuff.”

“I was just talking to my nurse about The Simpsons,” he explained. “She isn’t old enough to have seen it, but there was a prime-time cartoon on television in the early 70’s. It was called ‘Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.’ Do you remember that show?”

My eyes went wide open. “Yeah! It came on the air while I lived in Virginia…”

“Tom Bosley did the father’s voice,” he reflected. “And Jack Burns was his neighbor.”

I grinned with déjà vu. “Woww. I didn’t think anyone else watched it…”

While we bantered about fictional Harry Boyle and his family, the nurse busied herself positioning my arms over a pair of wings that extended from each side of the surgery table. She slipped loose, rubber guards up to my shoulders, making me feel like Batman before a crime-fighting adventure.

“In Virginia, a friend of mine was the son of an engineer for General Electric,” I continued. “He was ‘wound tight.’ A very serious fellow. But when Bugs Bunny came on the television, his mood would change, immediately. That was the only time we saw him smile…”

Suddenly, a different voice filled my ears.

“Mr. Ice?” a new nurse said, pleasantly. “Are you waking up?”

I opened my eyes, expecting to see the anesthesiologist and his assistant. But they were gone. The room felt warmer. And my bat-wings had disappeared.

“That was it?” I thought silently. “The surgery is already over??”

My consciousness seemed to bubble like coffee through an old fashioned percolator.

“Mr. Ice?” the nurse smiled. “Would you like some ginger ale?”

I must have nodded affirmation, because she bowed gracefully.

Everything in the room appeared different than before. My bed was one of several arranged around a desk full of monitors. The crew seemed busy. Yet there was little conversation.

I shook my head. “What happened to the cartoons…?”

When the nurse returned, she had a visitor.

“Your wife is here, Mr. Ice,” she cheered. “You did very well for a first-timer!”

Liz bubbled with enthusiasm. Her pink glow cut through my chemically induced stupor. “Hi honey! How do you feel?”

I took a deep breath. “Is this the recovery room?”

“Yes,” she answered while wrinkling her nose. “You’re all done. It’s time to go home!”

My head began to clear. “Wow… wait till I post this on Twitter!”

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