“Where did this CD come from?” Laurel said a few minutes ago. “I saw it sitting next to your CD player in your hospital room,” I told her. “When I packed up your stuff I threw it into the bag.” “I’ve never seen it before. It’s not one of my Successful Surgery CDs. They’re the only ones I took to the hospital.”
Ah, a mystery! The CD had no identifying information on it apart from a hospital patient property label, the same as a pre-op nurse put on Laurel’s CD player that she took into surgery with her.
I began to theorize that it contained secret medical information that was supposed to self-destruct after the operation, but which mistakenly fell into our hands via a sympathizer at the hospital who wanted us to know that the Department of Homeland Security had used her hysterectomy as a ruse to implant a monitoring device that would transmit details of her liberal Bush-bashing conversations to black-booted listeners dedicated to quashing all anti-neoconservative dissent.
My fingers trembled with excitement as I put the CD into Laurel’s computer. Windows told me that it contained “mixed files” and I’d have to choose programs to open them. Yes, just as I expected. Probably the files were encrypted, but we could enlist the aid of radical computer geeks who would be eager to help us uncover this nefarious government citizen-spying program.
However, when I double-clicked on what looked to be a video file, Windows Media Player obediently started up.
“Oh my God!” we exclaimed in unison. We were shocked. It was way more graphic that what we were used to seeing on the TV show “House,” which illustrates medical problems by sending the viewer on a tour through, say, a patient’s blood vessels and into the beating heart.
That was a simulation; this was real. We were looking at the inside of Laurel: pulsating oozely organs being pushed aside by the laparoscopic instruments, one of which obviously was a camera. I was hoping to see the whole operation, but there was only about 75 seconds of video footage plus four stills of unknown internal organs (sadly, Laurel isn’t wild about the idea of me posting them on this weblog; I’ll ask again when she is in a more exhibitionistic mood).
It’s kind of strange that nobody told us that a CD memento of Laurel’s surgery was being given to her. We found the videos fascinating. More squeamish patients might want to fortify themselves with a few glasses of wine, or whatever, before seeing what lies within.
A whole other world, that’s for sure. Surgeons know this world; for most of the rest of us, skin-deep is as far as our visual understanding of ourselves goes. I’m listening to Laurel talk to a friend on the phone about our CD discovery. “It’s pretty weird to look at the inside of yourself,” she says. “It’s pretty gross.”
Yes, yet also fascinating. Watching the video this vegetarian kept thinking, “We’re made of meat!” That’s obvious, I know. But comparing the actuality of Laurel’s insides with what I picture my own bodily interior to be like, I realized that my imagined Inner Brian is far neater and tidier—intestines over here, liver over there, a place for everything, everything in its place—than the messy reality.
Anyway, for those concerned about Laurel’s recovery process, she’s doing great. Under my marvelous in-home nursing care I’m confident that her return to near-normalcy is going to be faster than the usual six weeks.