I had my gallbladder removed.
At least that’s what they tell me. I suppose it could be an elaborate practical joke where I fall asleep and two hours later wake up with blurred vision and four little holes in my stomach. I’ve been having gallbladder issues lately, and by lately, I mean for the past decade or so. It cramps my style a little. For instance, when someone offered me deep-fried steak cubes, I’d have to say, “Oh, no thanks. After I eat steak cubes I ride in an ambulance.”
There’s a bright side, though. I’ve been thinking of writing another book. The working title is “The Gallbladder Diet: Lose 5 Pounds a Week and Not Waste Much Time Sleeping.” If I could come up with a more attractive title, it would probably be a best seller.
I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the surgery – it was scheduled for the day after I saw the specialist. I put salt in the water softener and tried to get everything else done that would require heavy lifting for the next few weeks. I had taken an order for 30 cinnamon rolls for the morning of the operation and it seemed like there would be time to get those done. I got the estimated prep time right, but I’d underestimated the torture factor of not being able to lick the frosting spoon.
My wife talked to the doctor after my surgery. She said that he told her my gallbladder was inflamed and that it had been a good decision to take it out.
I said, “Is that all he said?”
She said, “No. He actually said that it was hideously inflamed, that the gallstone was 8 inches in diameter and that the pain you suffered must have been incredible. And that on a side note, meeting you had been transformational for him - just being able to witness the grace, dignity and humor you’d shown throughout the entire ordeal.”
I said, “You’re making that up, aren’t you?”
She said, “Just the part after “it was a good decision to take it out.”
While I was coming out of anesthesia, she left to get me some drugs. While she was gone, a very nice nurse came in to assess how alert I was. While we were chatting, I noticed that my wife had left my phone playing music next to the bed. An old song came on and out of nowhere I heard myself saying, “Do you know who Pete Seeger is?” She said she didn’t. I said, “His wife just died. She was 91. She was half Japanese, her father was a diplomat and after the war they discovered he was a spy for the Americans. Do you know who Woody Guthrie was?”
She said, “No.”
I said, “He died of Huntington’s chorea. And his father was badly injured and his daughter and sister died in suspicious fires. Do you know who Kris Kristofferson is?”
She said, “Yes. I know that one,” but I could sense a little panic in her voice. I think she felt she’d lost control of the conversation.
I said, “He was an English major and a Rhodes scholar and in the mid-sixties he came home from England and joined the army, yet he really wanted to be a song writer. He thought he should suffer for his art, so he volunteered to go to Viet Nam, but they made him teach English at West Point, so he quit and became a janitor in Nashville instead and landed a helicopter on Johnny Cash’s lawn.”