Monday, December 18, 2006

Curiosity - Morbid or What?

I expected today's visit with the orthopedic surgeon to be a few minutes of mutual congratulations and out of there. Actually I learned some interesting facts. I've always been curious about medical matters and read all kinds of medical articles in magazines and newspapers. Having a good grasp of how our bodies work only makes sense. We live in them all our lives, we should be good stewards, not take them for granted even though they usually work very efficiently. Some people use the word "respect" -- yes, that too. To respect and try to understand our bodies is to respect and try to understand ourselves. Those who say they are not their bodies are fooling themselves, they don't fool me.

What we don't know about is usually what scares us. What happens to our bodies may literally hurt us but it doesn't have to terrify us and make us feel vulnerable to unknown forces. We don't have to depend on doctors to perform god-like cures with miracle medicines while we go into panics about all that seems to be going wrong due to malevolent forces..
Various friends and family think it "weird" and inconceivable that I was glad to have been awake when the stent was put in my heart last January. I was somewhat peeved that the video monitor the doctor used to guide the wire as he inserted it was at an oblique angle to me so I couldn't quite see the event. Sure it was more important for him to see it perfectly than for me to see anything. What medical people can do is astounding! Guide a wire from it's insertion point in the groin up into the heart right where there's a partial blockage and leave behind a tiny contraption to hold the vessel open -- wow! Who wouldn't want to watch such a miracle? ... Well, I guess a lot of people. What's to be squeamish about?
This comes up today because I had spinal, not general anethesia for the hip replacement. I knew essentially what was going to happen including that I would be given medicine to make me drowsy and largely unaware. There was no monitor to watch. I slept for some part of the prep but awoke, fuzzily, when I seem to hear sawing and then hammering taking place in my hip although I felt nothing except that the lower half of my body seemed to be encased in a foam vise. My upper half was tented under a plastic cover with warm air circulating around me although that did not stop me from shaking rather violently -- as I had shortly after the accident happened. I recognized that as a reaction to trauma, not cold, and that it was beyond my control.
Today, as I left after looking at an X-ray of my new hip and getting some additional explanation of how it should heal, I asked the receptionist for a card to explain to airport security heavies that I have a lot of titanium and chrome inside my hip -- not dangerous explosives in lower torso recesses. Knowing how unreasonable some of those ill-trained security people are, the receptionist also printed out the operation notes. Reading them was amazing. Step by step what happened during the operation from the spinal to the staples and gauze bandage at the end, with a final note, "the patient tolerated it well."
What caught my attention, in the midst of Latinate medical words, was "the acetabulum was reamed using the cheese grater reamers to a size 51." That, I'll bet, was the "sawing" that awoke me. Suddenly I have a picture, probably inaccurate, of an instrument grating over a bone in my hip. And once all was made smooth or clean, then the new parts were tamped into place. I'm glad I was awake to hear that happening. I'm glad to have read all those steps although much is meaningless to me. I did not know anyone dictated these steps so minutely and completely -- possibly it's a templalte to which specific changes are made for individual cases -- why do I say that? Because I actually work in a world where such things make sense.
Knowledge is power ... the power to understand at least in a general sense what happened to me. I will not ask "why did I fall in the first place?" It was an accident and accidents happen. Accidents have to be accepted. As I read RIVER HORSE the boaters relate amazing events of coincidence and luck, again and again and again. Luck and accidents are two sides of the same thing. Good stuff happens, bad stuff happens. Curiosity can bring us answers and amazements -- and life is richer the more answers and amazements we experience.

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