November 20, 2007
My Day in San Francisco – Part III – In Which the Mystery of the Toothbrush is Revealed
(If you haven’t read the first two parts, scroll down and read below… otherwise this whole toothbrush matter will seem odd. – Ed.)
As a parting thought, Dr. O explained various reasons why I should call the office, or call the nurse.
“If your PCA [patient controlled analgesia – narcotics on demand] isn’t enough… call the nurse.”
“If you feel nauseated, call the nurse. We have stuff to help that.”
“If you get the stuff, and you still feel nauseated, call the nurse. We have other stuff to help that.”
“If you vomit blood, remember that a little blood in your stomach, mixed with acid, makes what looks like a lot of blood. Don’t worry, but call the nurse.”
Etc. Basically, if something is wacky… call the nurse.
Dr. O says bye, and hands us off to Mira. The process with the Doctor took about an hour. It was a long time to talk about all the stuff that would go wrong, but hey, that’s the essence of informed consent. I do feel informed. (and I still consent!)
Off to Mira’s office, where the first thing that she does is call admitting, and hand the phone to me. I notice for the first time that Mira is referring to me as “She” and “Her”, both to Anh, and also to the admitting nurse. This just strikes me as cognitively dissonant for a second, as I’m dressed like a guy, everyone still calls me Michael, but I’m “She”. I look down on my chart, and here we go, for the first time, under gender, the “F” checky box is checked.
The admitting lady, very nice, confirms the surgery dates, goes through medical history – basically does all the hospital things that everyone has done if they have gone to the ER.
Mira then comes back in, and she’s got a big stack of pink papers. Turns out that these are all consent forms – one for each of the procedures I’ve listed previously. Each is a page, double sided, describing the activity, then listing risks. Each one is signed, dated and countersigned, and on to the next. I’ve signed fewer papers buying a house!
We go through final details of pickup./dropoff times, going again through when I need to stop eating and drinking. As a fine point on the fact that I will from liquid, to soft (e.g. oatmeal), to partially soft over the two weeks that I’m there, she says:
“Enjoy Thanksgiving. If you eat too much, its ok. You will loose it, trust me. Have an extra dessert! Have an extra serving!”
And then, she opens her drawer and takes out the toothbrush, and sets in on the table.
Anh says “Who’s that for? A gift for Samwich?”
“No, its for Michael.”
“Well, remember the discussion about the jaw opening being restricted? Well, this might be the only toothbrush you can fit in.”
Anh: “Neat, it’s a piglet one! Do you have another one for Samwich?”
With all that out of the way, I gave Mira the check (paid in full), and she said to me as we were leaving:
“So, when should we all start calling you Megan?”
“How about Monday?”
We ended up walking back to the Bart station to catch the train for our flight. Our flight home was delayed an hour, but we got back in time to have dinner with the Samwich. On the way home, Anh and I watched video on my laptop of the Samwich crawling, and babbling, and playing with Peri and John (Peri dragging Samwich around the house on a blanket, singing “Samwich train, Samwich train, all aboard the Samwich train!” over a soundtrack of him just all-out belly laughing is just one of those things in life that you don’t forget). I think we both got a little misty… This is our life. It’s a good one.
I was thinking about Thanksgiving tonight as I was driving home. This Thanksgiving will certainly be different than last, and it will be different than the next, but I hope in ways that are more superficial than substantial. I feel incredibly fortunate to have an amazing wife, a great family, and friends who have just been superhuman in their caring and support. I was a happy person before this all started, I’m a happy person now (if not a tad bit stressed), and I hope to be happy and even more complete person in the future.
I think that’s all you could ever ask for.