Generally speaking, weapons are not allowed in hospitals. In some places, combining the two will land you in jail (if not the mortuary). Nevertheless, I found out today that after making a donation to Forsyth Medical Center, the staff will happily send you home with your very own grenade! Their give-away version will be missing its detonator, and you will of course have to source your own explosive. If you fail to provide these components, the best you are likely achieve upon throwing one is causing others to vomit. (Depending on what kind of trouble you are in, that might just be enough - but still.)

As a follow-up to Rolling Stones, I went under the knife today to have my gall bladder removed. This is a short recap of what that was like …

I wasn’t able to eat or drink after midnight; this is to prevent a final exit akin to Jimi. I was allowed to brush my teeth and rinse - just not allowed to swallow any of the water … More than a year earlier the lack of food would have been a hardship for me; but after reading some really good books I’ve cleaned up my act a bit and this was no big deal. I definitely craved water, though.

From the time I arrived at the hospital to the time I left, everybody I dealt with was fantastic. I think my favorite was the anesthetist’s assistant. Sara M. was her name - one of two ladies named Sara that helped me today. She was shorter than my wife (always a surprise), and appeared to be pretty young. Coming from someone my age, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. Sara seemed to be really enjoying our talk - she smiled the whole time, and it was genuine. Interacting with her, it would have been difficult to not be in a good mood - she just had that effect. And this came in quite handy for me, as she was the last person I conversed with before going to sleep - and the first when I woke up again. I don’t know whether that type of behavior can be taught, but if possible it should be - I think it made a huge positive impact on my overall experience. The surgeon himself (Dr. Berger) was very laid back and easy to talk to. I found it quite easy to joke with him, and he did not act like I was wasting his time. That was just two of the staff - all of them were great.

I must have recited my full name, date of birth, and hopes of having my gall bladder removed a dozen times in 90 minutes. Everybody wanted to hear it. I have to assume this is meant to prevent mistakes, such as having one of my legs amputated instead of my gall bladder removed.

I was wheeled into the operating room, where I was fitted for an oxygen mask - and then I woke up. That is all I can remember. And exactly as my wife had predicted, I felt like I had just experienced the best sleep in a decade. And I wanted to go back to sleep, but Sara kept me talking so that I would wake up. I probably participated in fantasic conversations which I have no hope of ever remembering. Have you noticed how Facebook / Amazon / Google every website you ever visit knows exactly what advertisements apply to you? I suspect there is a chance that a big portion of this information is gathered as unwitting consumers are coming out of anesthesia.

Once awake, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I was definitely moving and talking slowly. I was given as much water as I wanted, and I ate several packages of graham crackers. All the while the staff fussed over me to ensure I was comfortable and had all my questions answered. At some point, I was wheeled from immediate post-op to recovery (my names) and my wife was brought in. As my body slowly woke up, we chatted and laughed and got more information from the nurse. The surgeon said that the gall stones were the size of marbles. This is something I will be able to verify, as he is allowing us to take them home in a few days. Why, you ask? Because science! Ours is a homeschool family, so things like this are not out of the ordinary. You know, snakes in the freezer and all that …

I ended up with four holes in my abdomen. Three were tiny incisions for laparoscopy, and are currently buttoned up with steri-strips. The fourth acts as a portal for a drain tube. This is where the fun begins. The line is terminated with a squeezable bulb that creates suction on the drain tube and stores the yuck which did in fact drain. It is shaped much like a hand grenade, so that is what the nurses call it. When the bulb is fully expanded, it should be emptied and compressed so that it provides negative air pressure in the wound cavity. Stripping the line during this time feels wonderful … okay, that is a gigantic lie. Doing that takes my pain level from a 3 to a 7 (10 being the most I can possibly handle).

I am still on day one, and am willing to bet I will be more sore tomorrow. Not looking forward to that at all. But overall, this could have been so much worse. I am convinced that prayer helped here. I covet all the prayers - from those in my household to those offered in a dive boat in Guam (I kid you not).

Since I got home, I have been drinking water like it is going out of style. My body is probably craving it in order to help flush the medications out of my system. But I am also wanting to continually drink because my throat feels dry and scratchy. That is actually due to being intubated while I was asleep. When this was explained to me prior to surgery, it gave me pause. Somewhere down deep I have a fear of choking and suffocating. Being intubated prevents exactly this, but the thought of having something shoved down my throat still freaks me out a bit. Thank goodness it all happened while I was asleep. I find it interesting that the thought of being intubated bothered me more than having an organ removed.