Thursday, June 16, 2005

All Symptons Normal, Doctor

Just yesterday I was laid out in the pre-op room of an outpatient surgery ward. I was to undergo minor fettling, or spannering, as the Brits might say -- if we were talking about motorcycle repair and not knee surgery. I'd noticed a sign, on my way in, that listed cosmetic surgery as one of the functions performed here in addition to orthopedics. Might I run into someone having breasts augmented or thighs diminished? Lips enhanced or tummy reduced? Cheekbones added, or nose subtracted? Maybe, but I doubted any such glamourous work was being performed in an HMO hospital -- more likely it was moles and birthmarks being extricated -- molectomies.

From behind the curtain drawn around the bed next to me I heard a young woman expressing genuine concern to her doctor: "I just don't want anybody to be able to tell that I've had this done. I've got auditions and jobs to go to, and I just want to look normal."

She could have been a standup comedian, studio musician, stage dancer, or starving actress. I quickly presumed the last of the lot and thought to myself -- normal? You're an actress and you want to appear normal? Too late. Most likely you've already attracted far too much attention; you've pegged the needle on the normal meter all the way down to E.
Loudly carrying on with your imaginary agent in crowded restaurants via cell phone has siphoned it off. You're on reserve with the warning light flashing, for all those times you wore your sunglasses at the grocery checkout to keep the regular folks at arm's length. Forget normal.

Poor girl was probably just having an ingrown toenail removed, but how entertaining would a kindly assumption like that have been? Far more satisfying to believe she was getting her nose done in order to co-star in a made-for-TV movie on....police work! So, we soldier on with the rant: if she really were an actress of any merit, wouldn't the ability to appear normal be within her range? Why shoulder the plain, pedestrian doctor with such a task?

At this point, my orthopedic surgeon appeared on the scene to check in. I'd gotten uncomfortable trying to read, propped up in a bed that had surely been designed to meet the ergonomic needs of amputees. Thus I had resorted to the television that could be flown in my face by boom arm. Rejecting Jerry Springer, a couple of soaps, an oh-so modern and witty sitcom, I stopped the dial at People's Court, hosted by Judge Marilyn. Desperate times.

This is where the man I'd signed over permission to make incisions in my leg, probe the intricacies of my knee joint by remote camera, and excise bone and tissue with utmost precision said, "that judge -- she's hot, man. You know, I gotta admit I watch her show alot -- she has a real come hither look."

Come hither and let me give you a slap! What are you, surgeon by day -- school janitor by night? Playing doctor in your mind...getting orthopedic on the Posturepedic, with a tired out TV show judge......what the hell's the matter with you? How else are you keeping sharp --memorizing facts from The National Enquirer?

But, I nodded and agreed, "Yeah, something's definitely going on behind those eyes of hers..."

Given the situation, I think the response was perfectly normal .