The Left One Makes an “L”


This is a photo of my poor paw about 30 hours post-op. It’s wrapped up, doctor’s orders, until noon on the 3rd, which is fine with me, since I’d rather not see the Frankenstein’s monster look I’ve got going on under all the gauze.

Ouch. Owie. Poop on a stick.

The shaky ink on my forearm is not a prison tattoo. Hilariously, after I signed away my life on the scary hospital paperwork, the nurse handed me a sharpie and said, “Okay, now you need to write ‘yes’ on the side where you’ll be having surgery.”

“What?” I asked incredulously. “I need to write on the side where they’re going to operate?”

“Yup,” she answered, clearly not impressed that I was asking questions when they were so many lined up for the signing away of lives and sharpie body art behind me.

“But I just signed all these papers. Every one of them said carpal tunnel release, right wrist, so I think he knows which side, and–”

“Just write yes and we’ll get this underway. It’s standard procedure.” She was not a very friendly nurse, and she did a crap job fastening my fashionable hospital bracelet. The tail of it tickled.

“Um, okay.” I wrote my three shaky letters with using my sadly uncoordinated left paw. The whole thing was very weird to me. I thought about making lovely bubble letters with little stars on them, but I figured that might be too much for nurse no-fun.

I think maybe this is less about getting the correct side cut open than it is about ensuring the folks who come in for the surgeries are mentally competent. Maybe the sharpie procedure is some sort of secret hospital sobriety test, so that folks don’t stop by the pub or drink martinis alone in their kitchens before they head for the day surgery ward.

“Sorry ma’am, your “s” looks like the longest serpent on the snakes and ladders board: you need to come back when you are below the legal limit. Also, your “y” is backward.”

Am I the only person who’s a little alarmed that I have to label my own body prior to surgery? I would think that the surgeon and the nurses, all highly-educated, competent adults, can tell the difference between the right and the left. I need to have at least that much confidence in people who are cutting me open.

After all, the left one makes an “L”.

copyright 2011:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

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