Monday, January 19, 2009

Accidents will happen

Laughter may be the best medicine, but The Little Rascals can be life-threatening. I could handle only three of Hal Roach's shorts from 1929 before I felt the stitches in my neck loosening every time I laughed.

So to avoid a visit to the ER, I turned off the DVD player and turned in at around 8 o'clock Sunday night.

I had big plans for Monday morning. Dr. Birusingh said I could come by his office and pick up a letter authorizing me to return to work on Tuesday, if that was what I really wanted to do. I said that I did.

During the night, I got my first indication that recovery from surgery would be more complicated than I expect, or want.

My eyes popped open and I realized that my sheets were damp. I bolted upright and clawed at the bedding, almost expecting to discover a horse's head like the one that the goombas left for John Marley's character in "The Godfather." No, it was only fluid; the tube had become dislodged from the bag of my catheter and my bed, jammies and socks were soaked in pee.

There was no button to push to call a nurse in to mop up my mess and change my sheets so I managed as best as I could and went back to sleep.

Daylight came and I continued with my plan to breeze by Dr. Birusingh's office to pick up my release-to-work form. A friend said he would pick me up.

When I rose from the bed, I almost immediately fell down, a pain in my right foot preventing me to stay balanced. Somehow I managed to make it to the bathroom and climb into the shower. I must have stayed in the shower stall an hour, too fatigued to turn off the water and dry myself.

I felt very grateful that I didn't have to go to work. I barely had enough energy to pull up my socks.

My friend arrived and we headed to Dr. Birusingh's office in the 4900 Sunset Building, across the street from the hospital.

My friend sat me down in the waiting room with the morning papers and he handled checking in for the appointment and being my voice. In between glimpses at the funny pages, I jotted down comments to show to Dr. Birusingh:

"I'm feeling weaker than expected."

"Am I eating enough?"

"Maybe I can go to work by Friday?"

"So what's the next step with urology again?"

"Should I stay off my foot?"

"Am I going to get hooked on codeine, or should I switch to Tylenol?"

Dr. Birusingh was typically understanding and patient as I held up my notepad, peppering him with question after question. And Dr. B went above and beyond my expectations for today's visit, by showing me the final pathology report from Wednesday's biopsy, even drawing a sketch of my head that illustrated the region of my tongue where he snipped samples of tissue.

The bottom line seems to be that my cancer will respond to radiation, if that is what the Kaiser Tumor Board recommends. I made a note in my head to stop freaking out about the possibility that my tongue will be removed. (What do oncologists do with extracted tongues, anyhow? Resell them to Gene Simmons for KISS performances?)

We covered a great deal of ground in today's visit. Before wrapping up, Dr. Birusingh gave me a letter saying that I am unable to work until a week from today. Not only will that letter please my friends and family members who have been telling me to not push the recovery process, I have a feeling it will also make my co-workers happy.

We dropped the letter off at the post office, precluding the chance that I will reconsider this decision and go back to work before I'm ready. I probably will have the Foley catheter removed by the time I show my face at work, which will thrill our facilities crew.

The carpet in our office was just deep-cleaned over the holiday. The last thing I want to do is have an accident with my catheter while sitting at my desk.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Although your KISS reference made me laugh, I feel personally responsible for contributing to your stitches-ripping laughter. I recommend watching the last disc of that Little Rascals set. The Froggy years aren't funny at all.