17 July 2013

Fit for a King

Today I'm in Ottawa, hanging out with my mother Violet, and taking advantage of her giant bathroom.

It's so much bigger than the one I have at home, and I thought a change of scenery might make the dreaded shower & bandage combo a little bit more fun. Her bathroom is quite lavish. It was custom designed by my dad who, after his three daughters left, was finally able to design his dream room.

Not only does it have a huge Jacuzzi tub, but also a built in magazine rack, phone, marble soap dishes, and a warming light. It also has a huge switch panel, and not knowing what any of them actually do - I turn them all on whenever I enter the room. I should mention that my dad was a lovely Cape Bretonner, who apparently had some hidden 'Graceland’ tastes.

But showering in Elvis's bathroom wasn't any more fun than showering at home. In fact, the wall of mirrors made it difficult for me to avoid myself, so I kept my eyes squeezed shut when I exited the tub. Even through the steam I could make out the silhouette of a fleshy hunchback, and a whole pile of stitches. So I wrapped myself in a towel, groped around for the light switches, and shuffled down the hall.

I was just taping up my stomach behind closed doors when I heard my mother yelling. 'You forget the Horlick'. I strained to hear her. 'The Horlick,' she repeated, 'You always forget to turnip the horlick'. 
I opened my door to ask her what she could possibly be saying.

'The WHORE LIGHT!' she said, slightly exasperated.

'What on earth is a whore light?'

'You know,' she said, 'The red light that you always use in the bathroom. The one with the sticky switch'.

Turns out that the red light my 80 year old mother is referring to, is the warming light that I call the 'Kentucky Fried Chicken Light', as it's the same red one that they used to keep the greasy drumsticks warm, last time I went into a KFC, in the late 70's. But now it made sense. A washroom for a King and a light for a Madame.

I take back what I said. Showering at Violet's is much more fun than showering at home.

Dr. No-Show. Part 2.

The secretary acted like nothing had happened.

Four weeks after Dr Escargot stood me up for surgery, his secretary, Jenny, called to ask me when would be a convenient date for a follow up appointment. 'Follow up to what?' I asked her.

'Your surgery!' she chirped
'Jenny,' I said, 'Dr Escargot wasn't AT my surgery. He never showed up. You know that.'

There was a gurgling on the other end of the phone while Jenny started grasping at vowels and consonants to string her next sentence together. I could just picture her. Dark hair, little face, big glasses, gaudy blouse. What poured out of her little mouth next was, 'Oh my God, Oh my God, I'm so sorry. I'm so so sorry. I can't believe this happened, and I can't imagine how you must have felt. I'm so sorry.'

I asked her what had happened. Here's what she said. She and Dr H's secretary had to arrange for the surgery date between the two of them, as well as an OR for ten hours where they could safely cut me in half. The date had been set for July 4 (fireworks) and then pushed forward to the 13th of June. Somehow, while they were moving the days, my surgery date disappeared from Jenny's computer.

On surgery day, when Dr Escargot did not show up, everybody began frantically calling him. Eventually they started calling her, which would have been sometime when she arrived at her desk which is whenever she feels like it - also known as 9-9:30. She explained that he was in Germany (Reason unknown, though I suspect he was floating down the Rhine savouring a delightful Riesling). When she found out that he had a surgery scheduled that morning, she 'freaked'. According to Jenny, this had never happened in 15 years and she couldn't believe that there had been such a giant screw-up. Again, she re-iterated that she was so very sorry, and I think we both clearly understood that it was her fault.

'This is not okay,' I told her. I explained my reasons, which are obvious. I was abandoned by a doctor I trusted, and nobody called to give me an explanation, or offer an apology. I told her that my fucking life has been on hold for a year and that had I known that Escargot was replaceable, I would have had the surgery earlier so I could move forward. And that goes for my wingman, and my family, and Jed.

After snivelling a bit more she asked when I'd like to come in. She sounded slightly thrown when I told her that I would prefer to see the surgeon who actually did the work. There was an uncomfortable pause (for her, not me) and she said that the two Breast Surgeons had had a discussion, and Dr Escargot would like to continue with the follow ups.

'Why,' I asked. 'So he can look at someone else's work?'

In the end it was decided that I would meet with both surgeons, on the same day but not at the same time. Their clinics are down the hall from each other, and they share a nurse, so that should be sufficiently uncomfortable. I'm trying to go into this meeting with an open mind. I'm forgiving of human error, but in return I epect human decency. And the decent thing would have been to call me. Jenny had added that Escargot was currently in Columbia, due to an family emergency.

I'm trying to keep an open mind.