(Note: This is the final chapter of the story. Parts 1 through 3 are here, here, and here.)
Today the stitches from my hand surgery came out.
When I left the hospital, they gave me a sheet of paper with the instructions for the care and feeding of my incision. Unfortunately, they had also given me Valium, which decided to start kicking in on the drive home. As a result, I misplaced the instructions before reading them. Here’s what I remember, in its totality:
– remove the bandages on Sunday
– something about a Band-Aid
– something about two weeks
Now, given that the Band Aid concert was neither two weeks long nor two weeks ago, I decided this meant “When you take the bandages off, cover the incision with a Band-Aid. In a couple weeks, we’ll remove the stitches.”
Wednesday was 13 days. Since I did not remember whether I was supposed to call or wait for their call, I left a message that basically said, “I lost my instructions. How do I get these stitches out?”
Thursday was day 14. When I got home from work, I had a message on my answering machine that said, “Call us to schedule a post-op appointment.”
Today was day 15. I called the doctor’s office to schedule the appointment. The next available appointments were Tuesday before God gets up and Wednesday afternoon. (Disclaimer: A priest friend of mine once explained that he didn’t like to do Mass at 7AM because he didn’t want to be the one to wake God up with all that loud praying. I believe that is why 7AM is called an “ungodly hour”. So is 8:30)
I began to book the Tuesday slot, and casually mentioned that I was hoping there was something on Monday, so I could get the stitches out sooner. Apparently, I said the secret word, and someone dropped a duck on the receptionist (kids, ask your grandparents). She put me on hold for a couple minutes, and when she came back, she said, “Sir, can you come in today?”
In 51 years, I have only been seen by a doctor the same day twice. Once I had pneumonia symptoms, and once I had a stroke. Apparently, my stitches had a 14 day expiration date, and needed to come out today.
The nurse took the stitches out relatively painlessly (my pain measurement chart has been recalibrated to account for Lidocaine injections into my palm). When she was done, she covered the incision with little tiny pieces of tape (similar to the one you put across a forehead gash after a TV car accident so all trace of the injury will be gone by next week’s episode.) She then gave me two odd instructions:
1) “Keep the tape on for the next 2-3 days.” This is odd, because the tape began falling off on the way home from the doctor’s office. She did tell me I could put a Band-Aid on it, which begs the question: why use tape at all?
2) “Don’t submerge your hand in water for a week.” I hardly ever submerge my hands in water except to wash them, let alone leave them submerged for seven days. But apparently she was picking up some sort of subconscious Aquaman vibe (pictured above). OK, I admit I sometimes wear my orange shirt and green pants together, but I barely said two words to the lionfish in the waiting room aquarium. (Disclaimer: it would have been a different story if I had gotten the hook.)
Besides, if I put my hand in water for a week, by the end, I would really REALLY have to go to the bathroom.