The Day of the Inguina

Dr. Kathleen Cleland -- The Hot Officer Chick With Knives

The Day of the Inguina:  Somehow, I came down with a double(!) Inguinal hernia  (“busted groin” in Texan).
Being of Irish decent, Ms. Scanlan (Da Wife), naturally considering my lifestyle, attributed the malady to drinking martinis, downloading Internet porn leading to prodigious self-abuse and, of course, smoking.
That despite assurances from a bevy of (anti-smoking, it goes without saying) docs that none were the cause, while, perhaps, all aggravated the condition. The condition also aggravated Ms. Scanlan since it limited my ability to stand up at the stove cooking away on delightful dishes for hours, gave me an ideal excuse for not carrying her heavy soda up the stairs in our town house and – to a lesser, but not insignificant degree – adversely impacted the efficacy of my, ah, marriage tackle.
It was also necessary on occasion for me to push the intestine back in its ‘little house,’ an act deemed not appropriate in many, especially feminist, venues.
Since the condition was, in fact, aggravated by my favorite vices (see above),my  the usual denial strategy, which has worked well over the years for smoking-related afflictions, failed utterly in this case.
I called my dear primary care physician, Dr. Stephen Cornwell, who diagnosed the hernia over the phone and had me drop by his stylish digs.  After the ritual ‘stop smoking, stop drinking and lose 20 pounds’ litany, he admitted that only a surgeon could fix it.
Based on my desire not to have a dude doc fiddling around with my nether parts, he recommended an outstanding female surgeon, Dr. Kathleen Cleland (above). I later found out that good Dr. Cleland was a former Army surgeon who served on our side in Iraq.  And when I met her, I discovered she is, well, a prodigious beauty.
I do some work for a group of mostly retired female military officers and have dubbed them, no doubt to their extreme delight (sic), ‘hot officer chicks.’  Thus Dr. Cleland – she actually didn’t seem to mind – instantly became ‘The Hot Officer Chick with Knives.’  This was a win-win surgical situation. Either she cures my hernia and lets me return to what Dr. Cornwell calls my ‘odious lifestyle’ or the last thing I see is a hot blonde coming after me with a sharp instrument.
Like what’s to think about?
Well, the thing I should have through about was medical clearances:  Part of the rampant discrimination against real Americans (a.k.a. smokers) seems to be docs’ fear that their gummed-up lungs will cause them (the smoker, not the doc) to croak on the operating table.  While Dr. Conwell ran all his tests, shook his head in wonder and pronounced me healthy as an ox, the lung doctor was a bit of a harder sell.
Dr. Adlah Sukkar, basically speaking, wanted me to stop smoking for 37 years and to never have lived in Taipei/Tokyo before their Green emergence before she would authorize the procedure.  And she made me take a battery of lung tests (that culminated in the technician, an attractive Philippina, shouting, “More, more.  Don’t stop! Harder.  Harder! Don’t stop!” to encourage me to propel a Ping-Pong ball up a tube to test my exhalation.  That test didn’t end well as I laughed so hard I spit out the tube into which I was breathing.)
I finally asked Dr. Sukkar if she used one of those Philips toothbrushes. When she admitted she did and displayed a most attractive smile, I explained:  “Those tooth brushes vibrate to get plaque off your teeth to prevent tooth decay; smoker’s cough vibrates your arteries and stuff like to get rid of plaque that causes Alzheimer’s.”
I finally got the clearance and Dr. Cleland’s great staff managed to track down all the paperwork. Dr. Sukkar’s folks – she’s a fine, caring physician, but her staff can follow neither simple written nor spoken instructions – had lost, misfiled or misdirected.
I got the word Tuesday and the procedure was scheduled for today, Friday Feb. 18.
This was somewhat a cruel act as it gave Ms. Scanlan very little time to agonize over my fate or, perhaps more importantly, to master skills like using the TV tuner, turning on her cell phone and coping with computers, all tasks for which she relies on me.  Every form of refuge has its price!
Now Alexandria Hospital is a good place… as hospitals go.  Valet parking.  Kind and efficient staff.  Close to our digs.
But it’s a hospital and one can generally assume that when one arrives at a hospital (no cigarettes after midnight) before 6 am, nothing worse is going to happen to him/her for the rest of the day.
Actually, nothing did. The docs, fearing lung complications, decided to give me an anesthetic cocktail that put me out for the count with no ‘drug-over’ and no recollection of the surgery.
Despite the hara kiri on my lower belly, I awoke with two tiny scars (sorry fans, no bikinis this summer), full possession of my faculties such as they are, and no…zero…zip pain.  Not even discomfort so-far, tho Dr. Cornwell says I might need a pain pill when the local wears off.
Released four hours after check-in, Da Wife and I had lunch in a restaurant with a smoking section and then went home.  Total time expended: 6.5 hours.  Marriage tackle seems to be responding to the normal stimulus.
Exhausted from the ordeal, Ms. Scanlan took a nap; I caught up on some website revisions and wrote this blog.
The last thing I saw before I went under was a blonde hot officer chick coming after me with a knife…  AND I woke up to return to my odious lifestyle.
See, Obama-care is the best of all possible worlds!

11 Responses to “The Day of the Inguina”

  1. 1 Barbara
    February 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    And I thought my ex-husband was from another planet!

  2. 3 Frank Aubry
    February 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Some things never change…had you written this 40 years ago, it would have sounded exactly the same. Glad to hear your ordeal came to such a happy conclusion. Mine didn’t, but that’s another story. Hold the coughs til the stiches heal. Fun, as always, to read you.

    • February 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Just more proof, dear Frank, that having a body like a Greek god in your youth may well have been pleasurable at the time, but engenders debts that the piper collects in spades at a later date… One the other hand, your enviable spouse makes one think that the conclusion of your surgery couldn’t have been all that bad…

  3. February 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Well I’m just damn glad the knife didn’t get your wonderful writing ability nor destroy your most inguinique sense of humor. All the best.

  4. 6 lindsay
    February 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Way to make a monotonous, yet scary situation sound more exciting than the average person’s regular week. Happy to hear all went well 🙂

  5. 8 Dana
    February 24, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I think I’d like it if you wrote the story of my life. Somehow, I think more people would read it: and I write that knowing (if I may be so bold) that I am an excellent storyteller.

    Still, you’re better. Let’s work out a deal. You do all the writing, I do none of the work, and we split the money. But since I’m not willing to do anything for this project, I give you the right to make up 5 terrible things about me that might help you sell books. I’ll cop to all of them on live TV.


    • February 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Have I worked for you before? You sound like so many of my employers! Since — like the wife of Caesar — you are above reproach and won’t even get a Facebook account lest you be (I do love the subjunctive) stalked by the youthful wannabe academics under your tender tutorings, I am not certain even my fertile — excessively fertile, some might say — imagination is up to making up five terrible things about you. As a counter proposal (or is it proposition?), I would be delighted to participate with you in five acts so odious as to launch a thousand book sales… but only with Eric Hoffer’s written permission as my groin is not yet — may never be, for that matter — up for a frenzied ounslaught from a steaming Significant Other. Which all goes to show: Old age is, indeed, an shipwreck…

  6. 10 David Cornwell
    February 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Drafted in ’66 out of a pre-med study program, I was immediately sent to Aberdeen Proving Grounds (hereafter referred to as APG, but no more) as a medical corpsman. Soon thereafter, I was promoted in designation from medical/corpsman to operating room technician after filling a gap in surplus corpsman and dearth of OR techs possessing a stomach to cope with blood, guts and other odiferous things. My first experience passing instruments to a qualified surgeon in sterile conditions with no outside guidence was a Caesarian Section, and I fell in love with the anatomy of the human body. This was a miracle! My second surgery was a right inguinal hernia. It was then I knew that I had the intestinal fortitude – ha – to aggressively study comparative anatomy up close and personal. The poor sap on the table needed a full anesthetic regime that, at the time to me seemed sensible, for were it not that a scapel incision was involved, I would have been “dead out” too.
    But the months passed, and Viet Nam was in my future, and the surgery was for real. You know of my experiences as an OR tech in Viet Nam, so no need to expound. But, in the mid ’80’s I was dianosed with a left inguinal hernia that needed repair. You know this part of the story up until the day of. At hospital, early morning, ready for the call, etc. On a gurney rolling down the hall, Suite Two, transferred to table, lights above, surgeon prepped and gloved, vanity sheet lowered…”what??, no hair prep”, says doc! Says he to me, “we’ll be putting you under now”. Says I to doc, “I’ll be taking a local and please arrange for me to watch.” Says he, “O.K.” Says I, “Far friggin out”.

    It was quick. Incision, fascia spread, push in the intestine, close fascia…3-0 gut, close incision…3-0 silk, cover and transport to recovery, awake and chatty and totally impervious to pain. Free of pain, that is, until Jane drove me to The Olde Medicine Shoppe in Falls Church to fill my pain perscription and then get me home to bed. It was at home that I suffered pain, normallly and to a degree excessivley, just to be cottled.

    There is nothing here that can compare to your recent operation other than it was rare to go without full anesthesia at that time. My request for a local anesthetic procedure was founded on the pain I had witnessed from the wounded and maimed in war, compared to what I had to electively endure at Arlington Hospital. Hernia is a piece of cake.

    My next missive will cover the anesthesia-free colonoscopy and the viewing of my totally pink internal tubing starring a visual exploration of my appendix. Popcorn optional!

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Jared Cameron

It is better to smoke a single candle that to curse the darkness

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