By Jerry Robbins
An important lesson that I have learned about senior life is that although I may say a lot most of it is not heard by anybody. I learned this lesson in the operating room of a hospital. I was in the hospital for an errant heart, one that would not keep regular 4-4 time, but insisted on slipping into a cha-cha now and then. Actually, it (my heart) was not involved in a pussyfooting dance but a full blown case of chronic atrial fibrillation. “They” were going to try to “shock” me back into regular rhythm.
Here’s the picture, they were going to hook electrodes up to my body and zap me with untold amounts of electricity. And I signed up for that? In fact, it was a regulated amount of zap, so why should I be concerned? Well, to help me be unconcerned, they gave me a sedative, a shot of valium, in fact. This was intended to calm me down before they gave me the “gas” that would put me out.
The valium was gggggreat. Indeed, I was happy as a drunken sailor on leave. “Bring it on,” I stammered in my drunken glee. And that was just the beginning. I wanted to know the names of all the nurses, the anethesiologist, the orderlies and the janitor on duty. “Oh, You just got back from your lunch break at Reese’s Bar and Grill? You had how many drinks?”
I wanted to sing the National Anthem. “Everyone join in now.” And I did and they didn’t. That was the first clue to the fact that they had already tuned me out. All the flurry of white uniforms around me, all the attention to procedure, and me right in the middle, but no one was listening to me. I might as well have been on the moon which the drug had already led me to suspect was the case. All these white aliens around me, who could certainly learn from me, and no one was paying the least bit of attention to me.
I told them about my latest race in which I got into atrial fib. “It was the hill at the end.” I told them about the regimen I was on that was supposed to restore my rhythm. I told them about what was wrong with the state, the university, and the country. I told them how much I loved everyone of them… All good stuff, and not one comment. They were either recovering from their three-beer lunch, or they were being polite, or they hadn’t heard a word I’d said.
Later in the recovery room, my wife congratulated me on the successful outcome. I confided in her, “I saw one of them actually trip and pull a wire out of the monitor machine. They know what they are doing, but they are not particularly friendly. They know where all the equipment is but they have lost the patient. How can they run a first-class operation like that? I was lucky to get out of there alive.”
“I’m sorry, what did you say, dear?” my wife said.
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