Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mr 30 to 40%

Highlight of the past week was seeing my surgeon for my broken wrist’s first post-op check-up. Although we’ve met before I don’t recognise him. It’s a bit like a blind date. The last time we met I was wearing a fetching white gown (perhaps a little too revealing at the back), and I was lying unconscious on a slab. Anaesthetic will do that. Come to think of it, it’s more like a blind date than I care to admit.

I was lucky to see him at all as his receptionist doesn’t believe I’m in the right place. This seems to be a pattern. When my wife rang six weeks earlier to make the appointment, the receptionist didn’t believe her.

My wife said she was holding my referral from the hospital. That wasn’t good enough. "I’ll have to speak to Dr B and call you back".

So I’m not altogether surprised that when I arrive for my appointment, the receptionist still doesn’t believe I’m in the right place. "Is it for your elbow or shoulder?" she asks. 

"Wrist,’ I reply. She gives me a look like she doesn’t believe me. I silently show her the 10 centimetre long scar on the inside of my right arm. This just seems to annoy her more. Eventually, I am given a form to complete and told to wait.

Luckily I had earlier ditched my two trusty sidekicks, The Complicated One and The Big Fella, as waiting is not their strong suit. Luckier still, the surgeon turns out to be a lovely guy, as well as a dab hand with a scalpel. Dr B knows just how hard to shake my hand when we meet – and as we peer together at my x-ray, seems impressed with how my wrist is healing. 

He says it’s one of the worst breaks he’s done for a while: “People don’t normally fracture their wrist in this many places, you know.” I feel like saying it’s some of my best healing work. 

He says that after six weeks it’s probably only back to 30-40% strength. I tell him I wasn’t very strong to start with. 

Dr B reckons that in another eight weeks I should be back to 60-70% strength. I feel like replying that I’d be happy with that figure at the best of times.

Finally, he declares that full strength will return but is 9-12 months away. I ask whether at that point I’ll be able to play tennis and golf again. “And push-ups,” he adds. I say tennis and golf will be just fine.

Bottle opener in my wrist

Intriguingly, the x-ray reveals that the metal plate resembles a bottle opener. I can’t help thinking of the movie Havana and Robert Redford’s character – a world-class gambler with a large diamond sewn into his arm. It’s insurance that no matter how bad life gets, he has a fallback – one final roll of the dice.

I ponder whether I’m drawing too long a bow in thinking that I too now have one final throw of the dice? If ever I’m dying of thirst and can’t open the last bottle (of soft drink), I can always tear open my wrist and save myself.

I say some of this out loud, then wish I hadn’t. Dr B replies that it’s made of titanium, adroitly ignoring my embarrassing bottle opener remark while keeping the conversation on topic (I told you he was a nice guy).

I also find myself asking the obvious question: will I set off airport security scanners? He says probably not, and adds that no we don’t do letters any more as any terrorist can write their own letter in an attempt to smuggle a gun through customs. Anyway, I just need to ask the security guard to run the scanner over my wrist, where they’ll see the scar and get the general idea that I’m unlikely to be hiding a gun inside my wrist. Just a bottle opener.

I’m loving …

The idea of a bottle opener in my arm. Instead of a suburban dad, every now and then I can imagine I’m a high stakes gambler in roaring 1950s Havana.

Not so loving ... 

The thought of cutting open my skin to extract the emergency bottle opener, let alone undoing the nine rusty screws. Think I’d rather die of thirst.

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