Mrs. Rootchopper’s second fun experience with the medical system occurred a month later as the result of an SUV driver running her over (with his SUV) in broad daylight. This was a feat of incredible automotive incompetence that resulted in several months of intense pain for my wife. The recovery from the accident caused a significant delay (basically a year) in dealing with another medical problem. Mrs. R was all set to go have an operation before Mr. SUV mowed her down. Fast forward a year, and she is finally given a green light for surgery, The surgeon, Dr. Ernst Stavros Moreau, looked at the year-old date on her diagnostic images and said, “What’s taken so long for you to get this taken care of? Did you get hit by a truck?” To which my wife said, “Actually, it was an SUV.” To which the surgeon – who is extremely professional and poised - said (and I am not making this up), “You’re shitting me.”
The surgery was scheduled for yesterday and the good doctor gave us the complete rundown of the procedure and everything that could go wrong. His description of the procedure made me absolutely pleased that I did not go into medicine for a living. If I had to operate on people every day, I’d walk around looking like Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Long story short the final complication of the surgery involved the surgeon sneezing at the wrong time and beheading the patient. He told us that if the surgery was as complicated it as he expected it could take as long as seven hours and that Mrs. Rootchopper could be in the hospital, yes, the very same GWU House of Head Pain, for five days.
We arrived by car at the hospital, parking two blocks away because urban hospitals don’t do cars very well. The paperwork began at 8 a.m. and the pre-op preparation an hour later. (A note about GWU medical people: where is your gym? All the women look like elite runners, thin and fit, and the men looked like they make shaving commercials in their off hours.) Just before going into the operating room, the pre-op folks decided that my wife’s wedding band would have to come off. This was not a good omen. Where I come from, removing wedding bands usually happens for two reasons, one is divorce and the other is burial. It wouldn’t budge. This, however, was a good omen. It was decided that once she was unconscious they’d give it another try and if all else failed they’d bring in the jaws of life and cut the sucker off. Dr. Moreau told me to stick around in case something completely unexpected came up (what the hell could he NOT have covered) that would require some discussion from a completely composed and emotionally detached spouse. Fortunately the only consults involved the wedding band. First, I was told that they’d have to cut it off, then, they somehow managed to get it off with one last yank.Medical science marches on!
After about 5 hours of watching Divorce Court, observing the madness of the Emergency Room down the hall, and drinking way too much caffeine (the GWU hospital cafeteria is pretty decent and inexpensive), Dr. Moreau appeared. He was “ecstatic” at how the surgery went. (Ecstatic, for Dr. Moreau, meant that he managed to break a trace of a smile. He’s makes Perry Como look like Howie Mandell.) Basically, the surgery went way better than expected and the recovery period would be much shorter than planned. It turns out that the immediate aftermath of surgery is often rather nasty and Mrs. R. had a rough go of things. After three hours she stabilized and I was able to see her. She looked infinitely better than I expected. I drove home, fed the kids and had a couple of margaritas to celebrate.
This morning I drove to work in Rosslyn (the first time commuting by car since early June) and jumped on the subway for the one-station trip to Foggy Bottom. The train looked like it had just come from downtown Tokyo. People were all mushed together. Gross. I squeezed on and tried not to inhale the armpit of the straphanger next to me. Note to Orange Line (so called because the riders are fresh squeezed) users: The Capital Crescent Trail is right next to the train line. Ride a bike to work. Even on a 100 degree day, it’s way better than riding in that miserable train.
Upon arrival, Mrs. Rootchopper looked great. I wasn’t surprised when a young doctor (well groomed and looking like he just came from a GQ shoot) came in and declared her ready for discharge. (This sounds rather foul now that I think about it. Like the hospital is excreting the patient. Eww.) Back to Rosslyn I went in the much less crowded subway. I drove back to Foggy Bottom and parked amazingly nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue with two hours on a meter. Two hours later I had to move the car – finding another metered spot in mere minutes – because the discharge process at this particular hospital is constipated. (Note to hospital administration: turn your discharge process over to some lunchtime waitresses from Manhattan. They’d turn those beds over so fast, you’ll be looking for patients on the floor.)
We arrived back at home and escorted Mrs. Rootchopper, stoned like a Deadhead, into the house without incident. I took off for the drug store and more medications - for her, I swear.
We, here, at the Rootchopper Institute are pretty much maxed out on the miracles of modern medicine. We hope our next trip to the island of Dr. Moreau is long in the future. Looks like I’ll be returning one more time this Friday though. Swings coffee shop is only a few blocks east of GWU hospital center and I wouldn’t want to miss the Friday Coffee Club.