Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Last Great Act of Defiance

Some 12 years ago, as has been stated here, I underwent a double coronary bypass or CABG, to use the medical shorthand. There is no doubt as to the necessity of the procedure and I am very grateful to the internist who insisted I get the pain checked out, the cardiologist, the surgeon and all the technicians and nurses who took care of me. Except one.

As I recall the surgery was mid-morning. Afterwards I was placed in the cardiac surgery ICU, IVs and various other tubes in various orifices. That night they had me in the ICU in a semi-upright position, still with all the tubes in place. Although breathing on my own the endotracheal tube was in my trachea so I couldn't talk.

ICUs are very busy places with many nurses, techs of various persuasions, clerks, etc on hand. Sometime during the night an x-ray tech appeared at the foot of my bed with a clipboard in hand. He looked at the clipboard, then at me, then at the clipboard again and said "Brown. Chest x-ray.....and enema." Not being Brown and definitely not needing an enema I communicated the only way I could. I shook my head and gave him the middle finger salute. The ICU exploded with laughter. I guess this particular tech was a well known smart ass, and people were happy to see him get a bit of his own back.

I remember this particular incident very well. The next night I was still in the ICU but the endotracheal tube had been removed so I could talk. When the shift changed a nurse came up to me and introduced herself as the nurse who would be my nurse for the next shift. I asked her if she had been on duty the night before. She got a big grin on her face and said "No, but I heard!"

More than a year later I went back to that same ICU to do a photoshoot for a book. I asked the head nurse if she remembered me and the incident. She smiled and said "You bet I do." So for a while anyway I was fabled in song and story around the ICU.

My last great act of defiance. So far.

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved this story. With no verbal ability, I think it was probably the most effective thing you could have done. :)