So in yet another attempt to deal with my chronic pain issues, which I’ve narrowed down with the help of my eminently skilled massage therapist to originating somewhere in the complex system that is my lower back and hip region, I recently submitted my bod to the tender mercies of Western medicine once again in what I hope is not a foolhardy venture.
I have my doubts.
Nonetheless, I decided I can’t go on this way, so to the MDs I went. I had to see my own doc, who referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who had me get some X-rays, an MRI, and CT scan for good measure. When all that was done, I returned to the surgeon who, you will be astonished to learn, was certain that my candidacy for spinal fusion surgery was assured, and it was merely a matter of time. However, he was passing my care on to someone else, as he didn’t do adult surgeries—just evaluations and follow-up, and pediatric surgery. But he knew they’d want to know if I’d tried a cortisone shot yet for the pain, and he had me get scheduled for that first, and I made an appointment with a different doc—a physiatrist, who turned out to be the same guy who did the nerve study on my wrists when I went to be checked for carpal tunnel a few years ago.
The physiatrist looked at my films, examined me, and determined that I didn’t need back surgery after all, which suited me just fine. I’d been unconvinced that the degenerative disk disease diagnosis (say that 5 times fast) I’d been given was the whole of my problem. So I left with a prescription for physical therapy, a muscle relaxant, and a see you later, as the same doc was scheduled to do my cortisone shot last Thursday.
After sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like a year and a half, and a brief period of panic when the desk clerk couldn’t find me on her schedule (after I’d taken half a sick day to do this), I was finally dressed in their finest gown and paper shower cap by the nurse and led to the operating room. I was instructed to unbutton and unzip and partially drop trou and lie prone on the table so they could commence with the stabbing into my spinal canal with various pointy bits.
I’m generally a cooperative patient, so I did this, and as I lay on the table and the various gowned and masked medical personnel prepped whatever was about to happen to me, I became aware of music playing.
Photograph – All I’ve got is a photograph
But it’s not enough
I paused. I almost didn’t say anything, but in the end, I couldn’t help myself.
“Def Leppard? Really???”
It was really too much for what remained of my dignity to bear. There I am, face down on the table, clad in a shower cap, my pants half-way down my kiester, at the mercy of a doctor possessed of sharp implements that, in the best-case scenario he’s already planning to jab into my spinal column, and I’m dogging him about his musical choices in the OR.
Kind of cheeky, non?
He said it was some internet thing, and he’d put in Journey, but this is what came up. I asked him if it was Pandora, and he confirmed it. He said at least I wasn’t one of his 85-year-old patients when it came on; they would’ve been totally unimpressed and possibly confused.
Another song played while I tried to ignore the fact that someone was invading my spine in a rather uncomfortable way. An epidural cortisone shot is like a backwards spinal tap. And it definitely went to eleven. It wasn’t unbearable, but I was super-relieved when it was over. And then “867-5309 (Jenny)” came on and my doc quizzed me if I knew who did the song.
“Don’t tell me…I should know this,” I said as he finished up and I racked my brain. But I totally drew a blank. “All right, tell me.”
“Tommy Tutone,” he said, and I groaned, not from the shot, but because I should’ve known that.
“I should’ve known that! I’m so ashamed!” I wailed dramatically. This got a big laugh out of the room.
“Ashamed?” asked one of the nurses.
“Yes. I pride myself on my musical knowledge, and I have failed,” I said, as I dramatically buried my face in the pillow on the table. (My 3 years in drama club have not been wasted.)
She helped me up, then, not fully comprehending the musical ego catastrophe that had just occurred. But I knew, and what remained of my pride slunk out the door as I pulled up my pants and meekly followed it.