I like to cook. I especially like to eat. Fortunately, I also enjoy riding bikes, because nothing beats back the Viagra-like midsection of middle age like a little exercise. Less fortunately, all that eating and riding must have disagreed with my left knee, seeing as how I’m writing to you today, post-operatively doped up, with slightly less tissue in my synovium – that’s the capsule encasing said unhappy knee joint – than I had the last time we spoke.
I met the surgeon’s knife on Tuesday. It began innocuously enough, sitting in the Barcalounger of a pre-op suite when I should have been having lunch, swaddled in a sack of crinkly pastel paper the size of a double-wide, and sporting an irritatingly itchy hair condom and silly purple socks, which for some reason had grippy stuff on both their tops and their bottoms. Can’t be too careful, I suppose.
It’s a funny thing, how time spent waiting in medical facilities seems to oscillate between tedium and terror, with virtually nothing in between… But eventually, after all the poking and the prodding, the low-level interrogations, and enough downtime to bring on the dull roar of symptomatic caffeine withdrawal, I grabbed my IV bags, said goodbye to my odd-looking companion over there in the corner, and shuffled off down the hall and into the OR.
If you’ve never been knocked out for surgery, let me tell you that the worst of the experience, by far, is the bit just before: lying flat on your back and very much alone in a cold, sterile room full of vaguely threatening machines, everyone around you dressed in hazmat suits and busily doing something or other that you can’t quite follow, all you can really think of is, Will I wake up? Will I know if I don’t?
The last thing I remember – and I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the implicit vote of confidence – is that my surgeon came to do battle in a black Harley Davidson bandanna, liberally festooned with a skull-and-crossbones motif, and that he had Don’t Get Fooled Again cranking, and I mean really cranking, over the official OR sound system:
And then you’re awake, and it’s over. I suspect we all remember some small, seemingly inconsequential detail at this point; for me, what I remember most, apart from the jolt of suddenly being somewhere else with a noticeable absence of dinosaur rock, is that my left foot had decided to nap like the dead, and that I had a frustrating inability to get my eyes, brain, and mouth to work in any kind of coordinated fashion. Someone hands me a paper cup of water, a soup cracker, an extra-large Percocet; I think I sign a few papers. My wife and kids are waiting, of course, and I’m home.
My wife takes great care of me, feeding me dinner, renting a stack of mindless movies, indulging my penchant for purple Gatorade and Pringles when I’m sick. But already I miss the kitchen, and that’s when it occurs to me: What am I going to cook when she goes back to work tomorrow, and I’m weaving around the kitchen on one leg like a drunken flamingo?
Please post suggestions in the comments. The best idea that I can replicate on prescription painkillers and a crutch will get cooked, photographed, and published, with full credit to the author.