Monday, April 4, 2016

Bay 12...PLEASE...

...or how a favorite moment in a favorite sci-fi movie raised the spirits of a post-shoulder-surgery patient on his way to a PACU...

So, why was the narcotics-infused shoulder surgery patient chuckling Wednesday evening as he was being rolled into Medstar Georgetown Unniversity’s Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)?

As there was likely to be a lot of discomfort after a complex rotator cuff repair and the reattachment of a partially detached biceps (and as Mewer the Wondercat is not as yet qualified in dispensing narcotics), my surgeon Dr William Postma decided to keep me in hospital overnight.

However, an apparent shortage of hospital beds that day, as well as a busy PACU meant that I’d be staying on the narrow bed on which I’d been brought from the operating room…not that I had much notion of where I was and how commodious the bed was during those first few hours, but when I learned that being transferred to the PACU meant a much wider and more comfortable bed with all kinds of controls, fuel-injection and independent four wheel suspension...that at least provoked a smile…

Being re-positioned for the move from the first intensive care room to the PACU involved being moved into that much more comfortable bed that I would be occupying in my new digs before going home.

Ah, but about that chuckle. There’s a line of dialog in the film “Aliens” that everyone who loves the movie undoubtedly knows and delights in speaking at the first opportunity.

As the badass crew of Colonial Marines is preparing for the mission to the hostile planet whose settlers have been wiped out by the terrifying hordes of alien monsters, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) who has been demoted after losing her ship in “Alien”) says to Sgt Apone that she feels kinda like a fifth wheel and asks “Is there anything I can do.” He replies, “I don’t know…is there anything you can do?”

Looking him directly in his Marine Sergeant eye, she confidently says, “I can drive that loader” and goes on to demonstrate her skills in the huge device. Returning with some heavy items clenched in its hydraulic arms, she says “Where do you want ‘em?”

Apone, obviously duly impressed, smiles at Corporal Hicks and laughing robustly and approvingly says, in resonant baritone, “Bay 12…Please!”

I know, takes a lot of words to “set up” a three word line. But if you’re a fan of the movie it’s just a really neat moment, and such fun to quote whenever serendipity affords one the opportunity.

So, as the patient approaches on his smooth-riding, super comfortable bed (with tactical smart missiles and sharp sticks, of course), the nurses doing the transporting ask the PACU admitting nurse “where do you want him?”

“Bay 12, please,” she replies, which – of course! – brings a chuckle from the patient, out of all proportion to the discomfort he’s feeling...

No, I wasn’t having a narcotics-influenced dream. The number just outside my curtain in the PACU was…indeed…12.

I must send them a big blow up of Apone saying “Bay 12…Please!”

And, no, I’m not writing the three non-laughing nurses off for not having a sense of humor. Clearly, they just weren’t “Aliens” fans, poor dears. I, on the other hand, had watched “Aliens” during dinner the night before the surgery.

That’s alright, important thing was – I thought it was funny. And any time I can laugh at such inappropriate moments, I know my strangely wired brain is still functioning…and that I didn’t leave any warped synapses behind during the anesthesia ;-)  Thank you, Drs. Freeman and Kim for making sure that didn't happen.

I decided it was best not to further test the nurses’ senses of humor by mimicking something trying to burst out of my tummy and begging them to kill me… 
©2016 Steve Ember

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