I work with clients internationally, so travel as needed for their project. Sometimes I’m included in things, events, etc. as an observer, which contributes to and helps with the writing. And sometimes unexpectedly—to me—things happen, that are both strange… and funny (to me). XXXXs in the narrative that follows indicate redaction of some details.
Below you can read the second draft, but here’s the handwritten first…
“They’ve all signed, acknowledged and authorized you as a writer—that I’ve invited—to observe their surgical procedure. No pictures, no names.”
“Right,” I nodded. The plastic surgeon I was writing the story for briefed me as we waited for takeoff from XXXX.
He continued. “So,” he ticked off a finger for each of the procedures I would see over the next five days: “Nose and eyelid lift at the XXXX clinic, then we fly to XXXX and do a corrective breast aug then fly back here for a lipo.”
An hour later we landed at XXXX international, a small airport that just beyond the gates, seemed open air, which maximized the impact of the XXXX view and scenery surrounding it. Just grab your bags, and within five or ten minutes, you’re in your car. Fifteen minutes later we were at one of his clinics, the third and newest he owned in XXXX. As we got out, he reminded me. “Patients can say and do strange things coming out of anesthesia, don’t be surprised.” I nodded and just before we went inside, he paused before opening the door. “Seriously.”
“Got it,” I nodded again.
* * *
The surgeon was masked and gowned, the nurses, the surgical tech, the anesthesiologist, and me… all of us geared up. The patient was a large—not fat, but tall and brawny—woman wearing a loose white-with-blue-flowers hospital johnny.
Off to the side, at first, I felt self-conscious and uncomfortable. [Sidenote: not since I was 5-years-old and had my tonsils out, have I spent time as a patient in a hospital. No illness, no surgery… nothing other than getting x-rayed for broken bones, MRIs for tissue damage or stitched up in emergency rooms, which has been many times. My extended hospital experience has been with three life-threatening incidents and medical issues with my daughters Cassidy and Amelia. So, not good memories.] I tugged at my scrubs, which were too tight across the arms and shoulders and stopped my fidgets when the procedure began. The team got the patient under, and then the surgeon and tech steadily did their thing. When done, the surgeon nodded at the anesthesiologist, “Okay.” And they brought the patient out from under.
As I watched, the woman twitched. Her hands clenched into a fist then unclenched. She mumbled. Her knees bent, and legs rose then lowered. She bucked up, arms flying out to the side and flailing across her chest. She half-sat up, her johnny had come undone and shifted, large breasts bounced then splayed out to her sides as the surgeon moved to restrain her. She surged up, pushing him off. The tech and nurse now tried to help hold her down. The woman screamed, “Get off me, Bob!”
In that handful of seconds, it was like watching a rodeo bull rider. The surgeon who was also a powerlifter got over and across her chest to hold her down and directed the anesthesiologist. “Ease her under, we’ll wait… then bring her up. Slow.”
Twenty minutes later everything had calmed down, and all was done. The patient was taken to post-op recovery, and I went to wait for the surgeon in his office. After 15 minutes, the surgeon came in, nodded at me with his game-face still on, then dictated—unemotionally—the procedure, what had happened and his post-op notes. Then we went to dinner. He didn’t comment on what I had just seen, and I didn’t ask. He’d warned me.
* * *
The next morning, I met him at his office and over coffee he told me, “I’ve got to do a post-op check and a consult. Then we’ll head to the airport.”
I sat in the waiting room, drank more coffee and cleaned up my notes. I heard a loud voice and looked up. It was the big woman from the day before, bruised eyes and bandaged nose from the procedure. Behind her—hidden at first—coming in the door was a man. Slight, maybe 5-feet-six to her 6-feet-one, easily 100 pounds lighter than the woman. I’m of an age to remember Wally Cox, the character actor and that’s who he looked like. She pointed a finger at a chair in the corner. “Sit there.” And he did. She sat down in a chair one away from him and across from me. After a few minutes, the man fidgeted and started tapping his knees. “Stop,” she said. And he did. A few minutes later, he started again. She glared at him. “I said stop that Bob!”
I stood and moved fast to the door. In the parking lot, I hoped they couldn’t hear me laughing my ass off.”
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