Ok, I know I seemed to disappear from the site like a Thorn in the night, but in my defense I tell you that I’ve been on the road with a load of mama cows and an idiot kid. KID? Hell, he’s 21 y/o and for some reason, he believes that if he ever stops talking, he’ll die. Anyway, there’s no wifi in an 18 wheeler and I forgot to tell y’all I was leaving and would be gone for a while. I do apologize for the abandonment. You’ve suffered enough from the untimely disappearance of our Thorn-in-Charge. That’s a story for another day.
I got this entry in the Non-Competition from Mac Egan. I never knew he wrote humor and I bet y’all didn’t either. But this story is testamony to this newly shared talent. I’m not going to comment on the story except to tell you to swallow your coffee and your half-chewed do-not before you dive into this story.
by Mac Egan
For some reason when I looked at the photo Gary posted as the prompt for another non-contest my mind went to a movie poster featuring an actor who starred in another movie based on one of Thornton’s favorite books. “It’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.”
Then Gary expounded on the rules with a couple of examples, including “is he just getting his first prostate exam.” Well, that sent my mind off in a whole different direction.
As I get into the story behind the picture we were shown, or the story behind a face that closely resembled the picture we were shown, I must advise that I will also have to provide a little bit of backstory. A few backstories, actually, but there are only a few and they are not long and they all contribute something of importance. If this story seems to digress, it is with good cause.
I had to have major surgery about ten years ago. I won’t go into that backstory anymore than I just did, saying I had to have surgery, and to add that it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be handled by a team consisting of a surgeon, a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, a nephrologist, an insurance agent, a couple of underwriters, a financial analyst, several CPA’s, a room full of staff accountants and a mortgage broker. Although a review of the medical records when it was all over did not indicate the presence of a proctologist, I am pretty sure there was one assigned to each of the aforementioned individuals.
My surgery did not go exactly as was hoped. I had some complications and was kept in a medically induced coma for a period of time. Eventually they woke me up and I found they had inserted a tube in my throat. I also discovered they had inserted another tube . . . um, well . . . yeah, down there, headed in the opposite direction of the first tube. This was not my first time seeing doctors or being in a hospital, but it was certainly my first experience with a catheter. Although I was told anesthesia could cause some memory loss, believe me, gallons of anesthesia won’t wipe that memory away.
With time I regained my strength and trod the long road of recovery. Soon enough, I was sitting up on my own and eventually could use a walker to get around a little bit. My kidneys, which had nearly shut down, regained their function and I was finally well enough to have the catheter removed. Having never had a catheter before and, thus, never having the experience of one being removed, I was quite glad when the nurse came into my room.
The nurse did not say much. She pushed the button that moved the bed into a near-sitting position, moved the blankets somewhat out of the way, then slipped her hand underneath them and spoke the words I will never, ever forget, “I’m going to need you to exhale for me.”
As I said, I have been to doctors before. I have been tended to by nurses before. I have had blood drawn by lab techs before. When a lab tech says, “a little stick,” or “a little pinch,” I have learned to look away and exhale slowly, without actually being told to exhale. When a nurse says, “this might cause you some discomfort,” I know to expect a measurable amount of pain. Over the years I have developed a mental conversion scale that turns their understatements into the reality I should expect.
I had never before had a doctor or nurse tell me to exhale. What is the starting point for this conversion? If “a little pinch” means “exhale” then what does “exhale” mean? I couldn’t even begin to imagine.
The average lung capacity for a man is about six liters. I have pre-existing conditions and my lung capacity is closer to four liters. So imagine that my lungs were comprised of two 2-liter soda bottles and you have a pretty good idea of how much air is usually going to be found in my lungs.
Exhale. At the very least “exhale” would be understood to mean “exhale slowly.” Pacing myself would be important. And I had no idea how long I would have to continue exhaling. Better to get a good start. I inhaled to capacity and then breathed out slowly through tight lips.
I had probably expelled enough air to fill a bathroom cup when the nurse pulled on the catheter. Exhaling slowly was no longer an option as my body took over and emptied my lungs of at least eight or ten liters of air in less than half a second. With the air came words. Foul words. Words that did not exist before that moment.
The air was not content to escape my lungs through the normal routes. Air rushed out of my mouth, propelled itself out of my nostrils – at least a liter came out of each ear and I felt a stiff breeze emanating from my eyeballs. Some of the air filled my eyeballs and blew them up like balloons, doubling them in size. My mouth opened and my lips stretched back in a horrifying, pain-laden grin.
You want to have some idea what I looked like? Go back and take another peek at that picture Gary posted.