Saturday, February 28, 2009


This week I had my "pre-op assessment." For the uninitiated, this is a three-to-four hour marathon that should take thirty minutes at the most. Mine took five.

First, I went to the wrong hospital. Doesn't it make sense that if they're doing surgery at a place that's where you'd go to get your paperwork done?


Once I finished trolling the parking lot for a space (I found one approximately a half-mile away, one of the closest) I made my way to the main entrance. It looked like the front of a Hilton. I can't wait for the bill.

The lady at the reception desk gave me a pager, always a bad sign, and told me to wait in the atrium. The fact that she didn't call it a lobby made my bill go up exponentially.

So I sat, without any reading material, for my pager to buzz. Thankfully, my daughter sent me a text message I could respond to. Sending my reply took the better part of thirty minutes. Did you know that your cellphone is smart enough to figure out words just by you punching in the right number buttons? It's called "T9 Word" on my phone. I call it something else, not fit for print.

Emily wanted to know how it was going. Simple enough. I typed back in "unbelievable". It came out "unbeleeabee". I couldn't remember what button to push to get alternate words and by mistake pushed the "send" button. There it go.

Embarrassed at my lack of texting expertise, I tried again. I typed in "If I could only get into the office." All I got was "he". I hit a button to try and fix it. You guessed it. There it go. She texted me back, "I love you." Sweet girl, showing pity to her dad.

I heard someone calling "Berry...BERRY", at which point I realized the pager was only a paperweight, completely worthless for communicating. Just like my texting.

I walked through the expensive atrium back to the original lady I spoke with and told her my vibrator wasn't working, a joke which was obviously lost on her since she looked at me with disdain and informed me that I was at the wrong place. I needed to be at the "other" hospital. I didn't even ask what I was thinking. If they can't do my pre-op stuff here, how will they do my surgery? Something to think about.

I drove to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, home of the Ronnie Green Heart Center, one of the best anywhere. The reason I know this is from the billboards I see everywhere up here. Billboards that I will soon be paying for. Just another thought.

Parking here was easier. I used the Fried Green Tomatoes method. When a lady in a Mercedes tried to beat me to a parking place, I cut her off, jerked into the space, and yelled, "I drive a Ford Explorer and I have no insurance!" Better than a diamond, that took her breath away.

I noticed that the hospital had recently completed new construction, more for me to pay for. I am not liking this upgrade at all.

When I found the "Pre-Surgical Waiting" room I was handed a clipboard to use while I filled out my medical history. I was now 45 minutes late and was treated accordingly.

They wanted to know everything about my medical past. I filled it out completely and handed it back to the lady, who escorted me to the cubicle where the nurse would complete my assessment. An older lady walked in who talked slow enough to put you to sleep in seconds. When she introduced herself I asked how her brother Forrest was. She didn't get it.

She asked the SAME questions I had just completed on the forms given to me, and then told me someone would be in to get a tube of blood.

I said goodbye to Ms. Gump and through the door came the sister of the banjo player from "Deliverance."

"I don't waste no time finding a vein. Whatever pops up, I just stick the needle in and get done with it." No problem, let's make it quick. She did. I was glad.

The last thing was an EKG. The little girl doing it asked what I was having done. I told her I had prostate cancer and she proceeded to tell me that her cousin who lived in Florida was the palest person she had ever seen but had skin cancer but her and her momma laid out all the time and ain't never had no problems. She looked like a grilled hot dog. She looked like she was twelve years old. My EKG was fine.

I went from there to my doctor's office to sign what they call a "release form". Apparently this means I hold the doctor absolutely harmless if, after my surgery, I can't pee, have sex, or walk without a limp. Right. I signed it.

With all that's happened so far, this should be an interesting experience. I haven't even gotten to the catheter part yet.

I can't wait.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Turn on the spotlight, strike up the band
Everyone's looking my way
They came to see the excitement firsthand
And hear all that I've got to say

Oh, it makes me wonder
What if I slip, will they catch me
Or watch me fall?

I am walking on a wire
Tiptoein' through the fire
Never looking down to see that
I am walking on a wire
The pressure's getting higher
But I don't look around

Everyone roots for the winner
The others--well, maybe next time
Your time at the top only lasts fifteen minutes
Then they just leave you behind

Oh, it makes me wonder
What if I slip, will they catch me
Or watch me fall?

I am walking on a wire
Tiptoein' through the fire
Never looking down to see that
I am walking on a wire
The pressure's getting higher
But I don't look around,
It's so far to the ground....

Will they catch me....?

If I fall...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Facelift Wrecks

I'm noticing an alarming trend, one that should--no, must--be addressed.

It's the number of people having facelifts. This is an all-encompassing term, meant to include Botox, eye-lifts, eye-brow lifts, nose jobs, tummy tucks and the like.

But for now, let's concentrate on the face.

I saw a recent picture of Dolly Parton today and noticed something was different about her face (yes, she does have a face). Now I grew up with Saturday afternoons and evenings consumed with Country Music stars of the day who had their own television shows. I'm not talking CMT or GAC here, I mean REAL Country Music--Ernest Tubb, the Wilburn Brothers, Bill Anderson...all pre-"Hee Haw" celebrities.

And then there was Porter Wagoner, the original rhinestone cowboy. And his Wagoneers. Also starring Speck Rhodes, comedian, he of the missing front teeth and corny jokes, even for a ten-year-old redneck-in-waiting.

And that new singer from Sevierville, Tennessee, Miss Dolly Parton.

When I first laid eyes on her, I thought I had died and gone to Hillbilly Heaven. She was all you could ever want, and more. Much more. She talked right, looked great, could sing and play guitar. She wrote a lot of great songs and went on after an acrimonious split from the old Wagonmaster to become famous in her own right.

Something happened in the intervening forty or so years. She bought the old Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge and renamed it Dollywood. She bought so much of Sevier County I'm surprised they didn't rename it for her, too. But I digress.

She now looks like the Joker from Batman. Along with almost everyone else famous who's had, let's say, facial "enhancements".

The first famous person I can remember having a facelift was Betty Ford. She looked like the Joker before Jack Nicholson did. I think they may have used her post-surgery face as the model.

Now I'm not trying to be ugly (no pun intended) but, really, these folks are like walking train wrecks. You don't want to look but you can't help yourself.

Face it (again, no pun intended), they must all use the same guy. Mickey Rourke, the Joker. Leona Helmsley, the Joker. Barry Manilow, the Joker. Kenny Rogers and Wayne Newton, the Joker. Julie Newmar, Catwoman (just checking to see if you're paying attention). These all make Nicholson look normal. Just look 'em up and see for yourself.

My prospects of getting better-looking as I age are not real good. But I refuse to get anything lifted, tucked, tightened, or stretched. I don't want to end up looking like an arch nemesis of all that is good and right.

Besides, I don't have to look like the Joker. I AM the Joker.