It’s Elementary, My Dear

3 Sep


I had to wait two weeks from my doctor’s appointment to be able to go into kidney surgery.  The head of the urology department at the hospital was out of town, and he wanted to be present to supervise since my case was so unusual.

When he came to examine me the day before my surgery, I made him feel my abdomen, starting on the left side (the good side), and moving gradually over to the right side.  When he felt the tumor, his eyes nearly bugged out of his head.  You are not supposed to be able to feel kidney tumors from the front,” he told me.Can I have some med students come in and look at this?”

I think that the average patient would be nervous with a two-week buildup to major surgery, but I was far too busy getting my mom adjusted to life in Geneva and taking care of basic business to get her set up to worry about me.  I do have an anxiety disorder, though, and we had to check into a private room at the hospital two days before my surgery for all the pre-op prep work, so that’s when the nervous anticipation began to build.  To distract me, my mom took a whole roll of film in my hospital room in the two days before my surgery, chronicling:

  • My teddy bear tucked in the hospital bed, looking sad underneath the “No Food” sign
  • My teddy bear sitting on the potty chair
  • Me stubbornly refusing to let go of the spoon in my mouth as I was being fed
  • Me sitting in my hospital wheelchair, dressed in my hospital gown, white hospital-issue compression stockings, and brown-and-pink furry monkey slippers
  • The wooden ladybugs on the bananas in the fruit basket that my coworkers sent, climbing up the side of the TV in whimsical fashion
  • The smiley faces she drew on top of the feet of my hospital stockings.

You can definitely tell she’s an elementary school teacher.


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