Many Turkish immigrants have settled in the region in which I live. The first came as guest workers in the 1960’s and later brought their families or started new ones. Because of religion, integration has been minimal and difficult (surprise!). I could write much more about this, but that is not my intention.
A short time ago, I had an operation on my shoulder. I was told that a shoulder specialist was available in the neighboring city. When told that his name was Al Shamari, I assumed that he must be Turkish. Dealing so often with Turks, I saw no reason to confirm my suspicion.
On the day of the operation, before succumbing to the effects of the anesthesia, I recognized his glasses above the mask and made some foolish comment, like “I know you.”
As already reported, the operation went smoothly. The following week, I went to a follow-up appointment. Hurricane Sandy had just ravaged the US northeast, which did not cross my mind in the waiting room.
After the doctor inspected his handiwork, he asked if I had relatives affected by the hurricane. I did not. His next comment surprised me and made me recall being under narcosis with this man holding a knife. He explained his feelings about watching the bombing of Baghdad, worrying about relatives, and not knowing about their fates. Without him saying, I learned that he was of Iraqi descent, not a Turk. If I had known this, I wonder if I still would have gone under his knife...
Now that twenty-four hours have passed, I am able to peck at a keyboard with one finger. This needs more time than real typing, but I have promises to keep and sentences to write before I sleep (with apologies to Robert Frost).
My last memory in the operating room is of the anesthetist telling me to think of something pleasant as she lowered a mask the my face. My next memory is being helped into the car for the ride home. I do not recall waking from the narcosis, lying in the recovery room, being dressed by a nurse and my wife, or being briefed by the surgeon. My memory powers were fading, but anesthesia seems to wipe the slate clean...or not accept any writing.
According to my wife, I fought with nurse to tear off the bandages and sling, muttered senseless babble, and conversed with everyone in the room.
I hope that my ravings were senseless and did not include excerpts from the unfettered, drugged mind of a fiction writer, because most would be disturbing if taken out of a novel’s context or--worse--considered to be real.
I must admit the “intensive care” following the operation at home is more pleasant than I have experienced in a hospital. I did not miss being attached to machines or having a painful infusion needle lodged in my arm. (Read Sister Sisteron or Flying’s Easy for my take on hospital sojourns.)
My wife is an excellent care-giver. I have received better care only from my mother, perhaps because she was a Registered Nurse, or because nostalgia distorts my mind.
Now, I must be patient and wait for Nature to work its magic. And, I must manage to do what I can with one hand. In the end, I will have more respect and sympathy for handicapped people than I already have.
The adjacent to the town where I live, which is larger and the location of my wife’s business (two irrelevant facts), has a private clinic for ambulatory operations. Several anesthetists and nurses are employed, but no surgeons. Any doctor needing to operate can book the facility and have his patient laid out and knocked out. He or she merely needs to show wash his or her hands, wield the knife, and then go have a beer. The victim is left in the hands of the clinic long enough to be able to walk and is then turned over to a relative for transport home and further care.
This less less bureaucratic, simpler, and cheaper than cutting people at the hospital, with its huge and need to fill beds.
The only problem is parking, with the closest a few streets away. This is okay for arrival, but tottering the car half-drugged must surely present an entertaining spectacle.
No health care system is perfect, so one must take inconveniences and aggravations with the good bits.
History and Romance buffs will recognize that this is not the name of the last Tsar's daughter. It's what they do to people in hospitals (Civil War soldiers would have been happy to have a bit of this). I got to try two different kinds; one would have been enough, but I had no choice.
My hospital experience has allowed me to empathize with two groups: one a little and the other completely.
First of all, I now know a bit about what women go through. I got a needle in my spine for pain relief. It worked so well (or they got the dose wrong) that my body went numb from my knees to my chest. I did not need that. Also, I now have a scar which might suggest having had a caesarian section. Of course, I did not suffer the pain of childbirth, because the Alien remains within. I'm told that I can expect more mischievousness in my digestive tract.
I now also know how paper feels, because I have been stapled! The surgeon assured me that this method is faster than stitching (all about him), neater (I was not planning to enter a b contest), and more hygienic (okay, I'll accept that).
I was always rather empathetic, so I did not need this past two weeks. But, it was a new experience. Life should not be boring...except sometimes.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.