Incisive Thinking


It’s Friday morning. I have several incisions in my right shoulder. Just how many, I’m not sure. In the next hour or so, after Rachel finishes what she’s doing, she will help me take the bandages off and we’ll both know.

On Wednesday of this week Dr. Thal, a fine surgeon by all regards, fixed an old injury in my shoulder that was getting worse. I haven’t been able to throw a good spiral all summer. Then again, I couldn’t throw a good spiral ever in my life. It just hurt more to not throw the spiral recently.

It also hurt more this summer to serve a tennis ball fast. So I served it slowly with lots of spin. Rachel and I were undefeated against Mary and George this summer, for the first time since we came back from England ten years ago. Many years we go 0-fer against M&G. So… it doesn’t hurt so much to serve slowly, with spin, and we do better.

Cycling is my main exercise activity. My road bike is very light, and hangs upside down, like a bat,  from the rafters in the garage when I’m not riding it. (It does this with the aid of hooks, and not of its own accord.) My shoulder hurt more and more to lift the bike down and to put it back up and I almost dropped it a couple of times while doing one or the other. That must be why I had the surgery. Also because my health plan rules were changing; it cost me several hundred dollars this year but would cost several thousand next year.

As I was saying, Dr. Thal is a very good surgeon. He does this kind of work for the Washington Redskins, and their shoulders are worth much more than mine. They can throw better spirals than I can, and probably also serve tennis balls faster, if they even play tennis. I don’t think they cycle, unless they are warming up on the sidelines like Deion Sanders used to. They probably ride Harleys and drive Escalades for fun. But Rachel and I have beaten more people at tennis this summer than the number of football games the Redskins have won this year.  So on balance, I stack up OK with Dr. Thal’s other patients.

The surgery wasn’t fun, exactly, but it wasn’t painful. I had to wait a couple of hours longer than scheduled, but everyone kept apologizing to me. I remember being wheeled into the operating room, but that’s it. By Wednesday afternoon I was home, taking narcotics, and listening to the ice water circulate in a high-tech sling-like thing around my shoulder. By Thursday morning I had stopped taking pain pills. I worked 8 hours from home on Thursday, sat in a couple of telcons, made incisive observations, and caught up on email. (I hope the Oxycodone had really worn off while I was writing those emails. Nobody has complained yet.)  All that, less than 24 hours after being out with a general anesthetic.

The recovery time is looking to be amazingly short. Agonizingly short. I had expected to be out from work for a month, from the accounts of people I know who have had this surgery recently. Maybe it has all been a clever conspiracy to stay at home, and I am blowing everyone’s cover after they were all nice enough to let me in the club.  I’m feeling terrible about this. While I *had* planned to catch up on some work, I was really looking forward to drawing up some internet business plans, learning photoshop and dreamweaver, and maybe watching a few (tens of) movies and reading some books. Now that is all in jeopardy.

I don’t feel badly enough to not work. My boss doesn’t expect me to work. In fact, she fussed at me for working yesterday. So why did I spend my first 8 waking hours working? Do I like it that much? Or am I addicted to it?  I didn’t take the Oxycodone on the second day because I did not need them and I didn’t want to get a dependence. I don’t actually need to work 8-5, if I adjusted my lifestyle. What I need is a five year exit plan, like my friend Ken did.

Rachel is finished, so I get to take off the bandages. I’ll get to take a shower and then put bandaids over the cuts. I’m going to use the really bright, flourescent ones because they make me smile. I’ll put one bandaid over each cut and be able to get an accurate count of the incisions that way.  That’s probably a good goal for the rest of the day.

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