The last two weeks of Grey’s Anatomy have been particularly uncomfortable to watch. It’s my wife’s favorite show and she forgot to warn me about it One of the storylines featured a character who had a form of severe scoliosis. I had scoliosis and had to have surgery to correct it. It’s been 20 years now and I still remember the surgery like it was yesterday. Particularly what I will refer to as “the catheter incident.”

My parents began having me checked for scoliosis in fourth grade. Every year I got checked out and every year I was told that there was a slight curvature but “we’d” keep an eye on. Well, one year “we” decided that some time between the previous year and that year, the curve went from slight to “in need of surgery to correct”. I was fifteen years old.

The night before the surgery, the doctor and nurse come in to go over the procedure of the next day. The briefly mentioned something about a catheter and moved on to issues of anaesthesia, recovery, etc. Since I was more concerned about the risks of paralysis, I never stopped to ask about what exactly this “catheter” thing was.

The next morning, 5 in the morning (since time has little meaning in a hospital), a nurse comes in to begin all of the pre-op stuff they had to do. She ended with, “I’ll be back to put in your catheter.” When she comes in, she has the “stuff” and let’s me know that it was time to put in the catheter. So I open my mouth.

“What are you doing?”
“You have to put in my catheter, right?”
“Yeah.”
“It’s like taking my temperature, right?”
“Not exactly. This,” she pointed to the tubing, “has to go, in there.”

I didn’t like where she pointed next.

“You’re kidding.” I started to laugh, waiting for the Candid Camera guy to pop out (hey, this was nearly 20 years before Punk’d).
“No. Didn’t someone explain this to you?”
“Obviously not clear enough. That’s thicker than a pencil and there’s no way THAT is going THERE.” Not to mention, THERE, sensing a threat, was begin to experience what we’ll refer to as a “turtling effect”. “Can’t you put me to sleep to put it in?”
“No. And we don’t have all day. The sooner we get started, the sooner it will be over.”
Apparently she underestimated my resolve.

Now, I’m not exactly proud of the next few moments. It began with the nurse grabbing THERE and my foot reflexively responding to “push away” the threat. Then came the chase, which involved me running around my bed in a desperate bid to keep THAT from going THERE. Apparently there was some girl-like yelling involved because my mother popped her head in to ask what the problem was. The nurse explained the situation and my mom, also being a nurse, quickly got the picture. My mom turned to me and assured me “I’ll handle this,” then walked the nurse outside. She came back in a few minutes later and told me that they had come to a different arrangement and there was nothing to worry about. I needed to get back into bed until the doctor arrived.

My mother. My savior.

I got back into bed and asked “what sort of arrangements?”

My mother then jumped on my chest and yelled “Got him!” The nurse rushed in while my mother had me pinned to the bed. Then the nurse quickly and roughly, in part a payback for the kick, put THAT … THERE.

It was the longest morning of my life.

Luckily, the surgery went picture perfect. I even got used to the catheter thing. Sure, I had the occasional hospital visitor make fun of it, but I began thinking of it as an extension of me. I even began listing practical uses for it. Why? Because it was in now and in case you missed that part about me living by a code, no one was messing with THERE if I could help it. New rod along my spine or no, I still had two feet that said no nurse would be messing with me. So when the nurse came in with gloves on and that “I don’t want to have to do this” look on her face, I told her that THAT was simply going to have to come home with me. She left for a few minutes, then came back and said “fine, do what you want. It’s not worth the hassle anyway.”

Just then, the phone rang.

“Hello.”
“Hey son.”
“Hey mom. What’s up?”
“Yeah, sorry about this.”

At which point the nurse grabbed THERE and whisked THAT out of me to the sound of another girl-ish scream that sounded like her soul was being removed. Thus endeth the catheter incident. Ironically enough, a childhood friend of mine was due to have the exact same surgery as me the following weekend. Same doctor, same hospital. Oddly enough, they put him to sleep before they put THAT … THERE.

Sort of put a damper on this song, doesn’t it? All this because I’m about to sit down and what this week’s episode … with one eye open.

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