Author: Judd, Brooks

Ten Items or Less

Last Monday November 21, Sheila and I, bleary eyed and half asleep bundled up in our warmest coats, got into our Saturn Aura at 4:30 A.M. for the foggy, chilly ride to Doctors Hospital in Modesto. Even though my minimal invasive microlaminectomy wasn’t’ scheduled until 7:30 A.M. we needed to be at the hospital at 5 A.M. to fill out paperwork, have seven plastic wrist bracelets placed on my wrist and answer at least thirty times the same question, “Mr. Judd can, you tell me your first name and what year you were born?” Then the nurse would check all seven bracelets to make sure the information matched.

I have had several medical “procedures” In the past 15 years and most of them have not caused me much worry. But my major surgeries, a total titanium hip replacement, and removal of a cancerous prostate have given me reason to worry. Prior to these major surgeries, Sheila, and my two daughters were my support. This surgery really had me worried. I am 63 and knew that the older you get the risks of surgery are greater. I talked to Rick about my concerns for the surgery and how I would be able to handle it. Rick gave me the same advice he gave me a couple of weeks ago when I told him I was going to give a talk at the local Rotary Club in Turlock. He said, “Don’t blow it.”

My physician, Dr. Helbig, is a very young 36 year old surgeon and a native of Modesto. He is the only surgeon in the Valley who does the minimal invasive microlaminectomy and his bedside manner is fantastic. The term “minimal invasive” combined with the information that I would be able to go home the same day if I felt well enough led me to foolishly believe that by Monday afternoon a couple of hours after my two hour surgery I would be playing racquetball with staff members and sharing a beer with the surgical team.

After I was wheeled into the surgery waiting area a smiling, friendly nurse walked up to my bed on wheels and explained what would be happening to me before and after surgery. Soon the anesthesiologist joined us and the nurse stepped away for a minute. He explained what his job would be. I asked him what types of drugs he would be giving me. He didn’t hesitate a moment and replied,”We’ll be giving you some narcotics, a few opiates, and, of course Propofol.” I nodded my head and he continued talking. “Mr. Judd, I legally need to inform you that there is a very slight chance that you may go blind from the medication you are about to receive. Because you will be lying on your stomach and you will be face down during the surgery this can cause problems with the medication which can cause problems with your eyesight. But you have about the same chance of winning the lottery for that to happen.” He excused himself and the friendly nurse returned to push my bed to the actual operating arena.

I asked her about the anesthesiologist and the somewhat chipper attitude he had. She smiled and said that he and a few other doctors had been in a lottery pool for sometime and they hit a pretty good jackpot a few months ago. As she placed a warm blanket on me she said, “Now what are the chances of that happening?”

The anesthesiologist placed a clear plastic mask over my mouth and nose and told me to take three deep breaths. I took my first deep breath and thoughts of walking around Turlock with a Seeing Eye dog filled my brain. I took a huge second deep breath; I closed my eyes and images of Rick Cornish chasing me around my swimming pool prodding me with a dust swifter yelling out “Marco” while between pokes I replied “Polo”. My third deep breath I focused on a round clock directly to my left on the wall of the surgery. It was exactly 7:20 A.M. Before I exhaled everything went black.

End of part 1. That’s all I can write for now so until January: Read a book, hug a child, pet a dog, stroke a cat and for heaven sakes do something nice for someone.

Posted:  12/2/2011

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