Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 26 - The Long and Short of It

          I made it to work today even though I didn’t feel much better. I had an appointment with the urologist in the afternoon, so I was determined to put in an appearance to meet my replacement.
          The replacement’s name is Gary. The first thing I noticed was that he is younger and better looking than I. The women who used to work for me will, I’m sure, enjoy working for Gary more, at least provided he is not a jerk. He was quite personable and seemed genuinely concerned about the state of my health. Of course if I don’t get well in time for the closing, Wallace will have to come to help him. Gary will be screwed.
          We spent a couple of hours going over all my work files in the computer. I showed him where everything is, how it’s all organized, and what it’s all used for. He took copious notes. I showed him the previous month’s closing. While I was at the doctor’s office this afternoon, he was going to work his way through last month’s workpapers and compare them to the templates I left him. We will go over his questions tomorrow. It’s a good plan I think. It’s the way I would have gone about it if I were him. I decided that he’s a smart enough fellow.
          Two things about Gary were noteworthy to me—not because they mean anything necessarily, but I have seen them in the past and made note of them because of the individuals to which they attached. First, Gary rolls the sleeves of his shirt to the inside. That is rather than rolling up his sleeves by turning the cuffs outward, he turns the cuffs inward. This makes a neater presentation, but it also means that whatever ink stains, pencil dust, and other detritus of desk work one picks up on one's sleeves will be on the outside and therefore impossible to hide by merely rolling the sleeves back down. This practice is best left to the more fastidious among us, to those less likely to drag their sleeves through the residue of accounting toil. The second thing Gary does is wear a fat gold chain around his neck.
          I have to say before I go further that I used to do both these things. The first controller I ever met did both these things. He worked for a small hospital where I got my first accounting job fresh out of college. I didn’t work for him. I was attached to an independent treatment facility that leased space in the hospital. I was in my twenties. He was pushing fifty. He seemed to have everything going his way. He was a stylish gent—salt and pepper temples on immaculately sculpted hair, nicely coordinated clothes, a well appointed home in a fashionable neighborhood, a chocolate brown Jaguar sedan with a tan leather interior, all the trappings. I started trying to emulate him almost immediately, unfortunately without the same effect. After a while I gave it up, rolled my sleeves like a normal slob, took off the gold chains, and resigned myself to an innate lack of star quality.
          Some years later I ran into another controller who rolled his sleeves just so and wore a gold chain. He also was pushing fifty (so was I by this point) although he was not the same trim fashion plate that the first guy had been. This second fellow had developed an infatuation with a dancer at a local topless bar. He began squiring her around the area malls on week-end afternoons, buying her clothes and baubles and, eventually, a car. That he could not afford these inducements did not dissuade or even slow him down. What did slow him down was getting arrested for embezzling some sixty thousand dollars from his employer to pay for the inducements that presumably never actually induced the girl to give up any favors. Since then I have never trusted accountants who try to dress too cool or wear gold chains. Accountants ought to wear conservative suits in charcoal and navy with striped ties. If they have a taste for the fashionable that won’t be ignored, they can add cuff links and a pocket square. Anything else is just asking for trouble.
          The doctor got another x-ray and a urinalysis. He decided that the stint was causing all the pain. Not unusual, and nothing to be alarmed about. He decided that I had passed enough sand that he could take the stint out. I could do it with or without anesthesia. If I did it with, I’d have to come back tomorrow. The thought of doing it without gave me the heebie-jeebies. I shuddered just thinking about it. Unfortunately that was the only option that made any sense time-wise. I told him to take it out without anesthesia.
          I had to put the silly little hospital gown on again. Then they took me into a room I hadn’t seen before with a nurse I hadn’t met to get prepped. Prepping consisted of soaking my private parts with an antiseptic solution. This went on way longer than I would have imagined necessary, but the last time this was done I was asleep so I don’t really know.
The nurse was pleasant, plump Jamaican woman of a certain age. When she finished with the washing she covered me with a surgical drape that had a hole cut out in the center so that only my private parts are visible. She went to tell the doctor that I was ready. I was lying on a table covered up, except of course for the stuff that I would like most to be covered up, and wondering what there might be to prevent just anybody from walking in there and seeing me like that. I have to say it was very disconcerting.
The nurse came back a few minutes later to tell me that the doctor was in the middle of another procedure and that it would be a few minutes longer before he could attend to me. Through the walls I heard voices and the staccato clicking of the lithotripsy machine blasting someone else’s stones.
The nurse asked me if I was warm enough. In fact my private parts were freezing. I imagined that they had shrunk up deep into my abdominal cavity, seeking their own warmth, and that the doctor would probably have to waste 5 or 10 minutes just trying to find them before he could go in after the stint. I wasn’t sure of the best way to convey this information to the nurse. She had just had my junk in her hands, so it seemed important to me to seem calm, collected, informal and free of embarrassment without lapsing into the vulgar. I decided on a particular phraseology that I do not normally use.
“Everything except my willie,” I said. “My willie is freezing.”
The nurse chuckled at this. I thought that the term ‘willie’ must have made her think of Bill Clinton. I don’t know why I thought this, but there it was. Slick Willie—limp, cold, and slathered in Betadine solution. It was not a proud moment.  
“Unfortunately that’s the one thing I can’t do anything about,” she said.

          The doctor came in ready to go to work. He used a cystoscope to go in after the stint. I knew that I didn’t want to see it, but I looked anyway because...well how could I not? A situation such as I was in is like a plane crash or a train wreck unfolding in front of you. You can’t make yourself look away, no matter what. If the cold had not shrunk my thing beyond finding, sight of the cystoscope was sure to finish the job. It was huge. It looked lethal. It reminded me of some bio-mechanical horror from a science fiction movie, something like the monster's telescoping jaw in The Alien. I closed my eyes. They squirted some topical anesthetic and lubrication into me to ease the passage of the scope.
         “You’ll probably feel a little pulling sensation,” the doctor said.

This was exactly what I felt, provided that what he meant by ‘pulling sensation’ was that I would feel like he had run the cable from a tow truck up my poor penis, attached it to the first thing he found on the other side of my bladder, and proceeded to pull my insides out foot by foot. When I first saw the x-rays of myself with the stint in, it seemed maybe 8 inches long. It curled into a small loop in my bladder on one end, and poked down into my kidney on the other. When the doctor pulled it out however, it suddenly turned into a garden hose—one of those thick rubber hoses, a 50 footer, complete with brass fittings and a twisty nozzle. I thought the hose, the ordeal, the discomfort would never end.
“All done,” the doctor said at long last.
I thought that little phrase, ‘all done’, did a grave injustice to the singular most remarkable feat of physical prowess I have ever accomplished.

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