Friday, April 27, 2012

Medical&Dental, Operations, Procedures and Other Tortures

I have tried to stay away from Doctors and Dentists all of my life. It seems to me that they spend all of their lives trying to find some illness or cavity so they pick and probe until they eventually do. They are very happy and self satisfied upon finding this defect, they smile and let you know they can help, maybe even cure the problem and, this is important, "It won't hurt a bit! Well, maybe a little pressure but that's all.". I do know enormous progress has been made in these fields but just because they don't saw off a leg without any anesthesia, just by poring whiskey on the sore and down the patent's throat, doesn't mean there isn't a great deal of discomfort, might I say PAIN, associated with it all.

My first recollection of meeting up with whole phenomenon goes back some sixty-five years ago. I was just entering my teen years and I was looking forward to playing baseball and thrilling all the young girls around with my prowess. My Mother  who had been bringing me to The New York Orthopedic Hospital informed me that the Doctor had decided the only thing that would keep me from collapsing when I was twenty-six or so was an operation to give me arches. At that time all parents believed anything Doctors or Clergy told them, after all they were professional men of the highest standing besides it wouldn't take long or after a day or two or have much pain associated with it. The operation was to take place in September and I would miss a term of school which was six months at that time which I figured wasn't such a bad thing. We took the BMT over the Fifty-Ninth Street bridge and stopped at Woolworth's, a big five and dime at the time, where I had a Malted and a "BLT Down with Mayo". I didn't realize it but it was like the guy on death row having anything he wanted for his last meal. Things were good. We, my Mom, my Father's sister, Aunt Tessie entered the hospital where they prepped and pampered me. The next morning I was lifted on a gurney and I can remember looking up at the ceiling and watching the lights whiz by as we entered the operating room. This simple operation needed anesthesia which I think they call GAS, it took over three hours. They broke my arches, cut my Achilles tendons and took some bone scrapings from my right leg. My Mother told me she met the Doctor right after and if she saw then what she hadn't seen before she would have never let him operate for his hands and face were twitching all over the place. She figured he must of taken drugs in order to operate and they were wearing off. I woke up in the most excruciating pain imaginable wearing casts up to my knees, so naturally I found it very difficult to move. I was in that hospital for a week and in pain for five days, finally it wore off as the pain medication took effect. I was a lousy patient especially to my mother as I sat in the wheel chair when she came to visit. The truth of the matter is if I was my kid I would have found the door to the stairway and threw myself down the flight of stairs just to shut me up. Happily, I was my Mother's child and she was sufferings pangs of guilt for having put me through all this, which I took advantage of. The rehab was horrendous. After a month the casts were exchanged for walking casts. After a couple of months the walking casts came off and I needed a couple of months on crutches until I learned how to walk again. Just like the Doctor said, really not a difficult type of procedure. I really wasn't able to thrill the girls that year.

Just when I was getting ready to go home that Saturday something happened. That Friday night I threw up and had a fever. They called my Mom and Pop and got permission for a Dr. Pinoia from Roosevelt Hospital which was on the west side of Manhattan while I was on the East side because the Hospital I was in only dealt with bones, breaking them I thought, while this Doctor was a General Surgeon who dealt in Internal Medicine, in fact he was in the Newspaper a few weeks before handling a sensational murder case. When Dr. P. (easier for me to refer to him that way) came in he seemed to be an enormous but jolly man full of smiles and good news. He said just a quick examination and then I could go home and have my Mom's spaghetti and meatballs. He started to put on latex gloves on his right hand which gave me pause to notice his middle finger  on his left hand was missing and he had the biggest fingers I had or will ever see. I could swear his middle finger on his right hand was about as round as any waist and almost as long. The room was filled with nurses, my parents, and I don't know, some people that just wandered by, which caused tremendous embarrassment when the joyful Doctor lifted up my gown exposing me in all my glory to the whole world. I had the feeling of impending doom when I saw him using Vaseline  on the existing middle finger. When he then shoved it as far up my rectum until I felt he was examining my tonsils the feeling of impending doom was realized. As he took his finger back to himself and started to get rid of the glove, which needless to say was filthy, as he washed he explained that I had to go by ambulance to Roosevelt Hospital for an Appendix removal. Through my loud wailing, I asked that he use Gas for my anesthesia and he said he would,. He didn't,. They used Ether which caused me to throw up all night. I was tended to by a man who told me he was a hobo, road the rails, king of the road, not a bum because he sought work, bums did not. Within a week I was released and finally got to eat my Mom's spaghetti and meatballs. I did enjoy the ambulance ride.

Some three years later my Mom was told I had to get my tonsils removed, a simple procedure, not at all like it used to be. So one day my Mom and I went to Astoria Hospital. The Doctors, maybe Interns, asked me if I wanted to have my eyes covered. I said no, big macho man. They were using a local which was to be administered by a long needle. When I saw this needle I asked for my eyes to be covered. The guy inserting the needle had his hand on my chest. He called a nurse and another guy over to feel my heat racing. He said, "This kid's heart is beating like he just saw Lana Turner naked and they all laughed. He then stuck the needle into my left tonsil, then my right, as he pushed in the plunger I thought it was coming out of the back of my neck but it wasn't until they stuck something else in my mouth which felt like a wire of some sort when it went around my tonsil, that I wished I was on an island with a naked Lana Turner, because this place was feeling like the chamber of horrors. I slept for a few hours after and woke up to a bloody pillow. My Mom took me home. A little into my convalescing, when I was at home alone, I felt hungry and quite OK. I made myself a snack of Grahame Crackers with peanut-butter and jelly and a nice cold glass of milk. I didn't know any better. It caused great pain, some bleeding and about a month longer of getting better than was necessary.

Fast forward some sixty-five years. Having trouble with my Prostate I went to a Urologist. He said he had to perform some simple procedure which would only cause some feeling of pressure but other than that I could watch what was going on on the screen next to the examining table. When I went for the cystoscopy I already had the experience of a lifetime as I was in another room with the Doctor and his pretty assistant. He pulled up my gown and here I was again in all my glory and he inserted something in me and it hurt but I was too embarrassed to notice. But when I went into the other room with him and his assistant and the cystoscopy began I didn't even know who was there just me and the Doctor to whom I said, "You lied. This hurts!" , since he didn't respond I asked him if he would mind if I screamed and he responded, "I wish you wouldn't". Funny but the screen was there and I wasn't interested in viewing what was on it. Finally it was over and as the assistant cleaned up I confessed my embarrassment to which she said, "Its my job.", to which I wanted to respond "But its my Penis.", but I didn't. The Doctor then suggested a simple outpatient Laser procedure, pointing out it was really nothing but a good cure. I said yes. What he didn't tell me was I had to leave the place with a catheter stuck in me and that I would remove it the next day before visiting him.
I must point out I really didn't sleep that night but I kept emptying out that catheter. I never realized I had that much work for my kidneys but I did. I removed it the next day in the shower and while it wasn't real bad pain there was some and fear especially when I saw the blood following. But I got through it all right. I am off all prostate medication and it didn't hurt the Doctor one bit.
Just a few days ago I had my first cataract operation. Everyone told me that had it and some that didn't, including my Ophthalmologist, that it was a "walk in the park". I must admit compared to all the others it wasn't so bad but let me tell you it isn't "A Walk In The Park.". My name was called and I walked into the prep room after donning the obligatory gown, hair covering (I am bald), and slippers. Got the IV, the questions, some other meds and eye drops and then was led into the operating room. I must confess between the accents. eastern European, and the young gals who talk at a mile a minute and very low even though I respond with a very loud and hopefully commanding voice so they will respond in the same, they don't. So I was led like a lamb to slaughter not really knowing what I was told or, except what I had to read and sign, what I agreed to. The procedure took 20 minutes to a half hour. While there was no pain there was discomfort, not great but it isn't fun lying on an operating table for that time with something over your head and heat, cool, liquid going through your eye melting the lens so the new lens can be inserted. Finally it was over and I was being led back to the recuperating area for instructions, observation and coffee. I had a patch over my left eye which caused me to be a little discombobulated. I wasn't used to seeing out of one eye only. The next day I went to my Doctor. I had to remove the patch because I was driving to the Doctor's office. He suggested I remove it about a half hour before the visit. The time came. I struggled to get an end so I could peel the tape off. I succeeded and suddenly I COULDN'T SEE OUT OF MY LEFT EYE!!!!!! Then I realized that my eyelids were stuck together. I used some warm water and slowly the eyelids came apart but then all I could see was a white haze. Going through my mind was all those people who told me that after their operation they saw perfectly, colors were brighter and the world was better, but not for me. Finally as I left the white haze was starting to diminish. I drove quite well, as I always do.  The Doctor explained everyone reacts differently but everything was fine and he'd see me Monday. I do wish he would have told me this and the fact that I could have removed the patch earlier so my eye would have more time to react. But Se la vie.

I have gone to Dentists who constantly ask me when I might flinch, or moan while they are performing drilling, root canal or some other form of torture, "Does this Hurt?" and I answer "YES!" and they say "Why? It shouldn't.", I say, "That's because it is my mouth and tooth, not yours.". I went to one Dentist some 72 years ago who convinced my Mom that I had to have the top front four baby teeth pulled out so the permanent teeth could come in. She agreed. So one day my brother, Mom and me took the trolley at Rodman Street, Flushing to Junction Blvd., Corona and they waited outside as I entered and sat in that horrible Dentist chair. The door closed. He proceeded to the task. He must of been in a rush because he administered no Novocain. Outside my screams were so loud and terrifying my brother almost fainted, in fact he might have. When my Mom finally came in I was toothless and bleeding and HURT! But the Dentist was happy. Don't you just love the Hygienist who does the scaling. "This won't hurt.", she assures us. She then proceeds to hit every nerve possible without actually cutting your gums. She continues to smile as you continue to bleed but eventually she's done and you make the promise to yourself never to put yourself through this again, of course you forget and go back for more. What about the examination? The Dentist actually uses workman's tools. His drill IS a DRILL, like when one makes holes. AND that little pick which he manages to stick into every crevice around your teeth and gums, is a PICK, like a pick and shovel. We might as well have the manual laborers work on our mouth they use the same tools and they charge less. I guess the biggest hurt is when the bill is presented. That's when the Dentist smiles broadly and you go home and weep. Winners keepers, losers weepers. And on that note I shall end this discourse.

I guess I really shouldn't complain because with all the poking and prodding the Doctor's save lives and the Dentists help us live longer more tasteful lives as do all heath givers. Thank you all of you who work in a field that requires love and patience to make sure guys like me are able to walk away and enjoy life for another day.

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