2006-06-09 / On Second Thought

It's not a criticism, it's an observation.

Mike Cox

When I was six, my tonsils had to be removed. I only remember tidbits about the whole thing. The anesthesiologist gave me ether, which induced really weird dreams. My father acted quiet and concerned, something I understood years later when Chad, my son, had his appendix taken out.

As we headed home, my parents said I could have anything I desired. In 1956, the world was small and needs were simple. After three days of hospital food, I wanted my favorite dessert, a chocolate cake with creamy filling inside. Called other things in other places, we knew them as Lucky Cakes.

I was lucky I didn't choke to death. When I took a bite of Lucky Cake and tried to swallow, bad things happened. I wasn't producing enough digestive juices, so chewing the cake was like eating sand. With my throat recovering, swallowing solid food was impossible. It remains one of my life's most bitter disappointments, along with not getting a second date with Charlotte Ray.

Fifty years later, I had surgery again. I had hoped to go the rest of my life without being cut on, but on the last day in May, an orthopedic surgeon reattached some torn ligaments and muscle to my left shoulder socket. The team told me there was a 99% chance they wouldn't kill me and a 95% chance the surgery will be effective. So far, so good.

The day before my appointment, Quigley got neutered. Someone said they hoped no one got the operations mixed up. I'm pretty sure they didn't. Quigley will be gimpy for a few days. I will miss work for a long weekend, but will be on the disabled list for six months.

When I picked my new best friend up from the clinic, his sad brown eyes seemed to be questioning my loyalty. No true friend would allow such a thing to happen.

My first couple of days home, I stayed groggy on pain medication, and tried to get by with as little help as possible. I have been marginally successful, but have newfound respect for Dr. Richard Kimble's nemesis. I still can't fasten my pants without assistance.

By the third day, Quigley was stalking toads in the back yard and trying to snatch raindrops out of the sky. The dog is nearly 100% already and has suffered no emotional trauma. I guess losing what you never knew you had isn't too traumatic.

I'm already tired of shoulder immobilization, and have a strong desire to do things that require two arms. Even the simplest tasks require careful planning, innovation, and, in most cases, some discomfort.

I have noticed less neck pain since the procedure. If I get back to 85% of my old self, it will be worth all the trouble, especially if my doctor's promise proves true.

Dr. Lee told me I should be able to break ninety after I come off the DL. If he's right and word gets around, he'll be more popular and richer than Oprah's nutritionist.

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