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Operations

By Mike Ruffin I have, in almost every way that really matters, lived a blessed life. One of the ways that I have been blessed is that in my almost sixty-three years of living, I have been hospitalized for a total of five days. My two hospitalizations occurred forty-two years apart. My first hospitalization was for a tonsillectomy. It happened in 1979. I was twenty years old. I did most big things early’”things such as beginning kindergarten, finishing high school, graduating from college, and getting married. But I got my tonsils out late. This was despite the fact that I had annual bouts of tonsillitis throughout my childhood years. Every time I did, my mother would ask the doctor if my tonsils should be removed. Every time she asked, the doctor would say I would outgrow it. When a rip-roaring case descended on me at the beginning of my third decade of life, a doctor in Macon’”where doctors evidently had a different take on outgrowing things than those in Barnesville did’”told me he didn’t think that living more years was going to lessen my chances of developing inflamed tonsils. I thought that sounded reasonable if, as a more accurate version of the old saying would put it, practice moves you toward being more aware of what perfection might look like if you could get anywhere near having any idea of what perfection would look like if there was any possibility of your attaining it, which there isn’t. I had been practicing getting infected tonsils for my entire life, so I figured that I would keep getting better at it, even if I had no chance of developing the perfect case of tonsillitis, which I didn’t want to do anyway. So it came to pass that a tonsillectomy was scheduled. I spent the night before and the night after the operation in the hospital. I know how strange that sounds, given that a tonsillectomy is pretty much a drive-through procedure these days, but insurance companies allowed the hospitals to do it that way back in the ancient times, so they did. My recovery went reasonably well. At least it did until my father upstaged me later in the week by suffering a massive and ultimately fatal heart attack. But that’s another part of the story, which you can (and should) read about in my best-selling (among a few of my friends and family) book Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life (available at Amazon; signed copies available through me’”but be aware that my autograph may lower the book’s resale value). Forty-two years passed between that two-day hospital stay for a tonsillectomy and my next hospitalization in January of this year, which happened because I had a stroke and which lasted three days. Since I wrote about that in this space right after it happened, I won’t go into it again, except to say that I’m doing fine. Well, I’m doing fine except that my right hand still doesn’t feel or act right. That brings me to another part of the story that I didn’t write about in my previous stroke hospitalization report. Before the stroke landed me in the hospital, I had already been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, which would require surgery on my right wrist and elbow, respectively. In fact, I had just had the nerve conduction study that confirmed those diagnoses on the Friday before the symptoms that indicated that I had experienced a stroke’”confusion mainly, and yes, it took me a while to notice the difference’”sent me to the hospital. While I was on the stroke unit, the doctors, nurses, and therapists kept examining and asking about my hand, and I kept telling them that I had been diagnosed with the aforementioned syndromes, and they kept acting as if that had nothing to do with anything. They seemed to think that the stroke was the more pressing matter. My orthopedic doctor said that they had their priorities properly aligned. But we are now at a place where I can have surgery on my hand and elbow. It’s scheduled to take place in a few days. It’s not serious surgery. On the other hand, minor surgery is surgery someone else has. I’ll gladly accept any prayers, well wishes, and positive thoughts you want to offer. If all goes well, I’ll be able to write even longer columns that this one. It’s an outpatient procedure’”in and out the same day. I wouldn’t have been surprised had it been drive-through.

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