I’ve got no evidence to prove it, but I’m convinced I almost crushed a woman just to support the patriarchy.
A month after I turned 30, I had a disc removed from my lower spine (L4-5 for the curious).
I didn’t have that bullshit laser surgery like these little Mary’s do in the 21st Century. In the 90’s, they did it the way they did it in Ancient Rome. They dug that shit out with an ice pick and a baby spoon — one scoop at a time.
It wasn’t a little bandaid to cover the “one-stitch” incision. They sealed it up with 17 pumps on the staple gun.
That night the surgeon came into my room. He was a skinny little shit in his 50’s. Maybe he went a buck-fifty soaking wet. He sat in the chair in the corner of the room and started giving orders.
With him was a 20-something nurse. She was tiny. Maybe 5 foot. Maybe 100 pounds.
“Ok,” the surgeon said. “It’s time to get you up.”
The nurse looked at my 240-pound mass, and started to leave the room.
“We are going to need more people,” she said.
Seemed perfectly logical to me. I had worked in a hospital for 3 years. You would be shocked how many humans it takes to lift one fattie.
“No, no,” the surgeon said. “This went really well. ”
She tried again to get help…
“It will be fine,” he insisted.
She turned toward me and her face said, “he better fucking be right…”
She took my left arm. She helped me sit up. Once my head cleared a little, she helped me stand. We exchanged a glance of congratulations. We did it, it’s over…
“Now walk,” the surgeon said from his chair like Dr. Frankenstein encouraging the creature. Right foot first. A little unsteady but solid. The nurse lightened her touch on my left elbow, which was level with her nose.
Shuffled the left foot forward. Leaned left. Felt nothing. It was like my left foot didn’t exist.
Ever so slowly, I start to fall like a red wood under a chain saw.
The nurse knew it before me. Like a pro she stepped in to catch me. Our eyes met just as she realized her efforts were going to be in vain.
Sure there was fear. But I prefer to think I saw a flash of pent up anger, frustration and injustice.
She knew she was right god damn it. She knew the system that let the man overrule the common sense of a young woman was about to get her crushed by an over-grown donut addict… Now she could only hope she would survive this bullshit.
She tried to hold my weight up and break my fall while trying to squirm her way out from under.
I sort of put my hands out but any weight I tried to carry centered straight on that middle staple and sent waves of pain in every direction.
She managed to get her elbows in my chest and knees in my belly to give herself just enough space to breathe. But it was clear she could not carry that weight for long.
The surgeon mumbled some blamey shit under his breath and slowly walked out to get help. He didn’t touch either one of us.
While we waited for help, I could feel the hospital gown “open” and a light breeze blow across my bare ass.
Suddenly, I could smell myself. No deodorant before surgery followed by 10 hours of the bed sweats… I call this perfume: “summer restaurant dumpster”
I hadn’t brushed my teeth, and I was getting nauseous from my post-surgery breath. I could tell she was “feelin’ it” too.
She kept trying to squirm and turn her face away. She might have been pretty, but under my grotesque and stinking mass, her face could only contort like a gargoyle.
Reminded me of prom night.
After what felt like 10 minutes, a team arrived. They tried to roll me left. For one last reminder of what a terrible idea this was, I accidently headbutted that little nurse just before she escaped, and I slumped all the way to the floor.
I didn’t see her leave. The surgeon wasn’t in sight. I could only hope she let him know what’s up. I never saw her again. I assumed she fled to go get a shower and change of clothes to try and wash my stink off her.
The team rolled me up in a sheet and hoisted the sheet to get me back in the bed.
The Morning After
The next morning, the surgeon came back with 4 people and a cane.
I had nerve damage and a “flop foot.” I used the cane for a couple of months and eventually got most of the feeling back in my foot (still a little wobbly almost 30 years later, but beats the shit out of back pain).
And every time I have to check my balance on my left foot. I’m reminded how I almost crushed that little nurse just because the surgeon was sure he hadn’t nicked a nerve. And he alone had the power to force the nurse and I into our dance of the damned.
I’ve got no way to know that’s how she understood what happened. But I like to think she was focused on the privilege of the patriarchy.
Otherwise, you know that look probably meant: “If this fat bastard would lay off the cookies, I wouldn’t have to keep his sweaty broken ass from bouncing off the floor.”