*My dogs are barking is a phrase that simply means my feet hurt. In this case, the word dogs means feet and the word barking means hurts. The expression my dogs are barking can be traced to journalist T. Dorgan, who worked for the New York Evening Journal. He coined many phrases, often using rhyming slang. Supposedly, the phrase dog meat became feet in this idiom. The term my dogs are barking was popularized throughout the world by American servicemen.
It might have been in a Raymond Chandler novel where a couple of goons with gats bust in on Philip Marlowe at home and one of them says to him; Park your dogs. Meaning 'sit down'.
So, my bunion operation was scheduled for Wednesday the 14th. My wife started a new job about a month ago. She could either take time off to drop me off to the hospital or pick me up once I was ready to be discharged.
I told her I'd get a cab to the hospital. That would make it easier for everyone. Besides, I knew that seeing her when I was discharged would lift my spirits no end.
Our bathroom renovation is still ongoing, and I should have been a little more productive with organising the shower installation, but that's okay. It'll get sorted while I'm at home recovering. It can all get arranged with a mobile phone and internet access.
Okay, so I took a cab to the hospital, tipped the driver - 'cos he got me there in good time - and made my way to the Day Procedures building. Gave my details to the lady at the desk. Sat in the waiting area for about 45 minutes. I'd gotten to the hospital at 11:20am. The procedure was to be done in the afternoon sometime.
I checked my phone. There was a text message from my wife;
Please take a photo of your lovely feet for me.
She meant post-op. My feet were gonna look a mess pretty soon. I sent her a quick reply, along with hospital rules regarding visitors;
No visitors 😞. Covid rules still in place.
What wtf!!! Can't I do a covid and come in
Nope. You're to go to Main Entrance tomorrow morning around 9:30 and they'll contact the Day Procedure Centre and bring me round.
Is you there now?
I guess we could face time
Yep. Here now. And we can face time! Good call.
Forty minutes later...
Going in. Radio silence for now. We'll see how I go once I'm out of the theatre. See ya
I began to feel alone and a little nervous. I wished my family was here. I compartmentalised this feeling for the time being. Put it in a box, slot it away for the moment, teeritz. Deal with it later.
As I sat in the waiting room, a young nurse approached and introduced herself. She then escorted me to a small office where I was given a mask, a Covid/RAT test and my blood pressure was taken. A plastic medical strip was put on each wrist. I would lose count of how many times I would be asked for my name and date of birth during my stay.
I re-signed a consent form, since it had been over a year since I last did so. Looking at the info regarding the risks of the surgery, it listed possibilities such as infection and ongoing pain. There was a third item listed also, but doctor's handwriting being what it is, the nurse and I couldn't make out what it said. She then led me to a bank of lockers and handed me a hospital gown and basket.
It was happening.
I was pointed towards a row of changing rooms and slipped out of my civvies and into the gown, with those annoying string-ties at the back. Off came the Casio watch. I put it inside a shoe. Along with my wallet, which contained my Medicare Card, my ATM card, and a $20 note. I crammed my socks in after them. My mobile (cell) phone went into my other shoe. I made sure to put it on Silent mode. My wedding ring was being a little stubborn. I left my underwear on and asked the nurse if these needed to come off as well. She said that it would be okay to leave them on, since they'd be operating down at my feet. My ring, which refused to come off, was wrapped in masking tape. I was then led back to the office, where I glanced at the wall clock on numerous occasions for the next forty minutes or so.
Pretty soon, it was time to move location. They asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I declined. This would be my last smooth walk for a while. It was a short distance from the office to the ward of beds near the operating theatre. I lay down on the bed, with its raised section where the pillow sat, and one of the anaesthetic nurses approached and asked me my name and date of birth. She asked about allergies and such. I explained that I'm a mild asthmatic who smoked for 35 years and quit in January last year. I use Symbicort (a preventer) from time to time and Ventolin (a reliever) from time to time.
Do you get short of breath if you go up a flight of stairs?, she asked.
I told her that I work on the third floor of a building and when I take the stairs, I feel out of breath once I get to level three. She said that's pretty normal. Another nurse came over and fitted a cannula (IV needle) into the back of my left hand and fastened it down with surgical tape.
It was happening.
I was now beginning to feel alone, since it was some hours since I'd seen my wife before she left for work. And I hadn't seen the kids since the day before. I was a little nervous about this whole endeavour to begin with. My Dad suffered a stroke while under anaesthetic during an operation back in 1981 and he never fully recovered. A little imagination can sometimes be a dangerous thing, and I began to think about something going disastrously wrong during the procedure.
Five minutes later, one of the assisting surgeons came over and asked how I was doing. He said the operation would be taking place soon, and did I have any questions? A little late right now if I did. He took a Texta (Magic Marker) out of his pocket and drew a circle on my right foot and wrote an upper-case 'R' in it, followed by a long arrow pointing down towards my toes.
Is that in case you forget which is which?, I asked.
About ten minutes later, the surgeon appeared, with two other doctors who'd be assisting him.
Do you know what you're having done today?
I wanted to say 'sex change' for a gag. But instead; Yes, you're gonna take one of those little electric saws, like you get from Bunnings (a hardware chain), and you're gonna make a long zig-zag cut through the bone. And I think some titanium screws are going in there as well.
They would be performing an osteotomy. Specifically, an Akin and Scarf Osteotomy, to deal with the bunions on both feet. One big toe (L) would get a small wedge of bone cut away from it, the other toe (R) would have a bone cut and realigned and held together with two titanium screws.
Is there anyone at home?, he asked. You know, to look after me once I'm discharged.
Yeah, I replied. A builder who's taking his damn sweet time to complete a bathroom renovation. And two kids who - I looked up at the clock on the wall. The time showed 1:17pm - are probably still asleep right now.
I liked this doctor. I felt that I'd be in good hands. About 20 minutes later, they wheeled my bed towards the operating theatre, which was a short distance away. They lined my bed alongside the operating table and began to make moves to lift me up and across.
Do you want me to slide over to this one?, I asked. I felt like I wanted to help them, since they'd all be very busy soon enough. I lifted myself up and sidled over to the operating table. I glanced at wrists. A couple of Apple watches, natch, but nothing else to be seen. The anaesthetic nurse on my right told me to rest my head on the pillow. I looked up at the huge lighting array above the table. An IV tube was attached to the cannula taped to my left hand by the nurse to my left. I began to shiver a little, my lower jaw quivered. Was it cold in here or was I getting nervous? The nurse to my left gave the IV tube's valve a slight twist and a felt a slightly icy sensation inside the back of my hand. The nurse to my right placed the oxygen mask over my nose and mouth.
It was happening.
Somebody's calm and soothing female voice told me to take a few deep breaths. I drew the oxygen deep, going for that abdominal breathing - where you fill your entire lungs by making your stomach rise as well as your chest - and made sure I breathed evenly and calmly. Despite the butterflies fluttering around behind my sternum.
That's good, just one more, she said.
I took another deep breath.
And maybe half of another.