Undergoing hemorrhoid surgery limits a person in the one thing Americans do ridiculously well: sitting.
But I’m getting ahead of myself when I should be getting behind myself.
Hemorrhoids – which could be the title of a horror movie for people older than 50 – are irritated blood veins up your keister. I won’t go into gory detail here, so I’ll directly quote WebMD: the veins become irritated “especially when you poop.”
Poop. Remember that specific scientific term when consulting WebMD for anything life threatening, like the grippe, the epizootic or dropsy.
People irritate these blood veins by, I don’t know, being irritating, like humming in public.
But I was about to rid myself of this irritant with surgery.
Surgery in the old days must have been less stressful than it is today. The patient and doctor both take a shot of whisky, doc grabs his multi-purpose saw, they finish with more whisky, and the patient pays with a couple of chickens.
When I went to the hospital, my visit was less about chickens and whisky and more about signing forms.
“What’s this one for?” I asked the nurse, who was amazingly nice and chipper at 6:30 a.m.
“It’s to give us permission to do the procedure,” she said.
Procedure, I assumed, was the technical term for freehand operation with a post-hole digger.
I signed the form and she handed me another.
“What’s this one for?”
“It confirms you have insurance.”
“Well, sure,” I said. “I wouldn’t be a responsible driver otherwise.”
She took the signed piece of paper I’d failed to read. It could have been for anything, really. I may have just bought her lunch.
“Have you recently been to China?” she asked.
“Is there a family history of negative reactions to anesthesia?”
“Nope. We Offutts have always been able to knock ourselves out pretty well. What kind of mixer do you have for vodka?”
She clicked a few buttons on her computer.
“Do you have a living will or durable power of attorney?”
This one stopped me. How many people actually die during hemorrhoid surgery? According to a 1997 study published in the French medical magazine Journal de Chirurgie, between 1970 and 1990 the number was two.
That hardly seemed like enough to require a —
Sometime between the question and actually thinking about it, I was given drugs and underwent a stapled hemorrhoidopexy, the actual name for what I told my wife was called Two Chickens and a Whisky.
“Do you want to walk to the car or ride in a wheelchair?” the nurse asked after the surgery.
“I don’t care,” I slurred, then started walking. Still under the influence of awesome drugs, I may have thought she was pushing me in the chair.
Like any great American I sat like a professional on the ride home. I haven’t been allowed to sit since. I’m beginning to worry I’ve forgotten how. Two Chickens and a Whisky takes a lot out of you.
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.