Sunday, August 18, 2013

For the Love of Surgery

Surgery isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it’s life or death. Sometimes the recovery period is awful. I’m not making light of such scenarios; however, as I tend to do, I am going to make light of my own recent surgery.  It is my fifth time under the knife in only about six years. I’m becoming a regular patient with three shoulder surgeries and two knee surgeries. Today I’m going to share my list of eight things that I don’t like about surgery.

1.       Pain meds. I have to admit my knee felt better on surgery day than it did the next couple of days because of the pain medication in my IV, but pain meds constipate me. I’d rather my knee be sore. The nurse suggested I use my pain meds and a “stool softener.” No thanks.
2.       Shaving my leg. Now, I’ve had arthroscopic knee surgery before. There are two little incisions right by my kneecap. So why does the nurse shave my leg eight inches above and below my knee? So I can’t wear shorts the rest of the summer out of pure embarrassment?
3.       Questions before the surgery. Why do five different people come up, grab my chart, read it, and ask the same exact series of questions? Doctor, intern, assisting nurse, prepping nurse, anesthesiologist. Yep, it’s still my left knee. Nope, I didn’t develop any new allergies since the last person asked. Yep, I’ve had surgery before. Nope, I haven’t changed my mind and decided to let you stick a needle in my spine. I’ll still go with general anesthetic.
4.       Showering. Lying on my back in the bathtub with my leg draped over the side of the tub doesn’t work. Showering with the shower door open and my leg dangling out doesn’t work. My leg in a garbage bag taped with duct tape works. Duct tape works for everything.
5.       Trips to the bathroom. The carpet is nearly worn out from my bed to the restroom. An IV must be necessary during surgery (and I surely enjoy getting all the hair ripped from my arm when they take it out), but it’s hard to deploy the rest and relaxation method of surgery-day recovery when I have to limp to the bathroom every ten minutes. I guess it’s better than the time that I couldn’t go. My bladder filled to explosion level. I was certain it was going to burst. I’m sure with an ultrasound my bladder has stretch marks. The hospital suggested I come in for a catheter. I finally peed out of fear. The dozens of restroom trips were better than the bloated bladder, but not much.
6.       Cottonmouth and vile taste on the back of my tongue. I tried to eat a graham cracker as a snack after surgery. It stuck to my tongue like dry cornbread. My mouth was so parched I couldn’t get the cracker unglued, and my tongue stayed that way the rest of the day. Drinking just led to longer pees in the bathroom. I brushed my tongue with toothpaste five times. My voice was raspy because of the tube they’d put in my throat, and my tongue was a baked slab of leather.
7.       Sleeping. Rather…not sleeping. Ice strapped to my knee, leg elevated a foot and a half, blankets pulled away from my head, pain medication wearing off, tongue made of leather, bladder working overtime…sleeping after surgery is wonderful.
8.       Memory loss. This has to be the worst thing for me. My wife and I were filling out a post-surgery evaluation form. One question was “Was your nurse friendly and professional both pre- and post-surgery. I said no. My wife asked why, and I said it was because as soon as I woke up, she pulled me from my bed, walked me to my car, and put me in it. My wife calmly explained I’d been in recovery for over an hour and that we had been talking for well over a half hour before we left surgery. Didn’t I remember getting dressed? No. Didn’t I remember eating a graham cracker? Oh, yeah. The dried cornbread stuck to my tongue. My wife said I told her I chose my snack poorly. I don’t remember that. Didn’t I remember the anesthesiologist stopping by? No. Didn’t I remember the doctor telling me I should no longer run? No. My wife said that I said, “I can’t run anymore? I’ll get fat!” Then I asked her three times if I could play basketball. She asked me finally if I had to run to play basketball and she claims it took me about 15 seconds to reach the conclusion that I did indeed need to run. Finally I said, “Well, if I can’t run, we’ll have to have sex every day so I don’t get fat.” I don’t remember any of that. I don’t remember getting wheeled into surgery. I don’t remember the car trip home. I don’t remember how I got in my bed. About three hours of my life existed, but the memory is missing. I hate that worst about surgery. 

You know, I hurt my knee playing basketball. Maybe it’s time to quit. I hate running to stay in shape. Maybe it’s time I found a different thing that I can enjoy more. (Sex was an option I thought of even under anesthetic delirium). Maybe I should appreciate showers, hair on my legs, saliva in my mouth, a healthy bladder, a good night’s sleep, and one good knee. Maybe I should appreciate surgeons who can repair a tear in my meniscus and take out four pieces of floating cartilage. Maybe having a wife and kids to take care of me is a blessing. Maybe I should reassess my love of surgery.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Question Me

A little over a year ago, I did a ten-day countdown to the release of Bulletproof, the third stand-alone novel in my Clay and Tanner Thomas series. People sent in questions, and I responded to two or three each day. I saved my responses on my web page and happened to look at them a couple of days ago again, which led me to make this post of six of my responses. I hope you enjoy them—and maybe you’ll become interested in the book. Thanks for stopping by.

These questions are from fellow author Nely Cab, whose name I love, and whose questions I’m not so thrilled about, but here goes. First one - Have you ever milked a cow? (I have and it feels so nasty touching udders).  This is an udderly ridiculous question. I know…horrible, predictable pun that I just uddered but I couldn’t resist. I grew up in the country and one of my best friends was a dairy farmer, so yes, I’ve milked a cow. I’ve even gone so far as drinking straight from the udder…I know the gross picture you all are currently imagining…but it was sprayed, not sucked. :)    Second one - Do you know how to make cheese?  On two separate fieldtrip/excursions, I’ve made cheese. It was such an exciting endeavor, I recall wishing I lived in Colonial times. I do remember one time discovering cheese-like chunks at the bottom of a carton of milk…does that count? I think I was responsible???  Third one - Is cheese or cow milking mentioned anywhere in Bulletproof? If yes, where? If no, why the heck not?  I just completed a document search using my Word “find” feature, and inexplicably there were no hits on cows or cheese. But there was a giant, a midget, and a skunk. Do I get half-credit?

What is your ultimate pet peeve? (posted by Jenny Bynum)  You said pet peeveS, right? #10 I hate it when people merge onto the expressway slowly! #9 I don’t like it when I leave a message and the person never calls me back!! #8 I hate when sportscasters say stupid things like, “It’s their first national championship in four years”…like they’re supposed to win every year, or like their second championship in five years is inadequate!!! #7 I get irritated when I give something to someone and they don’t say thank you!!!! #6 I get perturbed when politicians overspend and mismanage my tax money and fix the problem by raising my taxes!!!!! #5 Drivers with road rage are a pet peeve. Don’t they realize their cars are weapons of destruction? My wife didn’t cut them off on purpose!!!!!! #4 I really don’t like to hear people say, “I seen it!!!!!!! #3 While I’m on it, why do people say, “It don’t matter” when I think it really do?!!!!!!!! #2 I don’t like it on Facebook when people tell me they’re drinking coffee or cleaning their toilets or eating frog legs or counting their floor tiles. I really don’t want to know!!!!!!!!! #1 I’m bothered by people who take the time to give a one-star review. Why? Why not just load viruses on people’s computers and let your dogs bark outside all night!!!!!!!!!! You know what’s funny about this answer and all the emotional exclamation marks? I’m really a very easy-going guy and none of these things really bother me much at all…well, except the viruses and taxes…and bad grammar. :)

What’s the funniest story you have based in the classroom? (posted by Becky Johnson)  I don’t know if this is the funniest story, but it’s the one I want to tell. I had this girl in class. I’ll call her Amanda Forr, though that’s not her real name. She was ditzy and proved it often with absurd questions. One day in class, I was going over a log-in procedure for a computer test we were required to take. I explained that they were to use the first initial of their first name and the first four letters of their last name as their log-in I D. Immediately “Amanda’s” hand went up. Her question? “What if you only have three letters in your last name?” Well, I patiently explained that I assumed in that case the person would only have to put in three letters, but I also stated that I didn’t have any students with only three letters in his or her last name, so it really didn’t matter what the procedure would be. But Amanda was not to be denied, and she replied, “Uh huh.” She held her hand up so I could see her as she counted with her fingers for all to see. “F … O … R … oh, my name has four letters.” This is a true story, and I find that I worry about the poor girl.  

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what inspires you? (posted by fellow author, Stacey Rourke)  Listening to music definitely inspires me. For instance, I learned deductive reasoning from Thin Lizzy who sang, “Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak…Somewhere in this town.” Hey, guys…I’m guessing that this supposed jailbreak will happen somewhere near the jail. I learned geography from Sade’s “Smooth Operator.” She sings, "Coast to coast…L.A. to Chicago." Chicago, Massachusetts, I assume. I learned rhyme from Des’ree’s “Life.” She sang, “I don’t want to see a ghost. It’s the sight that I fear most. I’d rather have a piece of toast. Watch the evening news.” I get my creative juices flowing from songs like “Who Said” by Miley Cyrus. “…There's no limitations on imagination. Imaginate." Now when I get stuck, I just imaginate. There’s a lot of grammar to be learned from “I Don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole. “…say a little prayer for I…And see the peace in every eye.” Maybe the bad grammar was so she could make a rhyme???? Here’s some snappy dialogue and quality sentence structure I learned from “Your Song” by Elton John. “If I was a sculptor, but then again, no.” Because of Soul Asylum’s “String of Pearls,” I’ve decided not to write while on drugs. “Who's racing to the delivery room? ‘Cause in the back seat his wife is busting out of her womb, and the sack breaks, and out come the Siamese twins who grow up to become the first president with two heads are better than one.” I learned a little about romance from “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne. "He was a boy. She was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious?” I personally don’t think so, Avril. I learned about character description in “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira. "Lucky that my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains." And if I need concern myself with character description, I should worry about my settings too. In “So Yesterday,” Hilary Duff helped me to understand, “If the light is off then it isn't on.'' If not for music, I wouldn’t have the inspiration to produce quality works of fiction. I’m always listening and learning.

I have never read your books so what can you tell me about them that would have me hooked so I will go out and pay for one? (by Amanda Honea)  Do you know about the opening scene to The Princess Bride when the grandfather shows up to read his book to his sick grandson? I’ll answer your question as I review their conversation. The boy asks, “Has it got any sports in it?" (Yes, Tanner is a basketball player) The grandfather then replies, "Fencing (No). Fighting (Yes). Torture (No). Poison (Possibly…there’s a murder in every book). True love (Of course). Hate (Lots…hateful characters and characters to hate). Revenge (For sure). Giants (Actually, yes, as well as midgets). Hunters (No). Bad men (Definitely). Good men (Clay and Tanner are the best). Beautifulest ladies (You bet…the most beautifulest ever). Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions (No, but there are ghosts as well as porcupines, squirrels, and skunks to add humor). Pain (Personal and physical). Death (In every book). Brave men (Brave men and heroes). Coward men…Strongest man (Well there’s a smorgasbord of interesting characters and some would fit that description). Chases (A couple). Escapes (Yes, from a kidnapping). Lies (Yes…and there are consequences). Truths (Yes, of course). True Love (Unquestionably). Miracles (Parapsychology).” Plus all three books have humor. Well, the boy responds with something like, “That sounds okay. I’ll try to stay awake.” Turns out he liked the book pretty well. You should give mine a try too. :)

Nely Cab asked, "What’s “Bulletproof” about?"  Finally, a question about my book! Though I’ve enjoyed being tortured (a little), I’ve been hoping it’ll promote some interest in this book. My two main characters for this third book in the series are named Clay and Tanner Thomas (father and son). Both have parapsychological powers, but their abilities differ so they need each other to solve the mysteries (of which there are two in this book). Clay’s father is critically injured in the beginning of the novel during a robbery, and then he’s accused of the crime and Clay is arrested as an accomplice. While investigating, the Thomases visit a witness who owns a haunted hotel, and Clay is persuaded by a ghost to also solve his eleven-year-old murder. There is a character who apparently also has mind-control abilities who is executing numerous robberies around town, leaving no clues. Clay and Tanner endeavor to uncover the guilty party for both crimes, which may be related, and numerous suspects emerge, leading to a suspenseful and surprising climax. The book includes some unforgettable characters to go along with ones you’ll care for and root for. There is a smattering of sports and romance, but a bookful (book full?) of suspense, drama, humor, and quality detectiving (I made that word up—I’m an author…I have creative license). I hope people enjoy reading this novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.  

Nearly two dozen other questions were answered that week and can be found on my web page, but I thought that smattering of questions would entertain you. Thanks again for stopping by.