On Thursday, at the first light of dawn, I went into surgery to have a hand operation. I’m writing now with only two fingers, so if it seems that my nonsense is shorter than usual, don’t think it’s because I’m in a bad mood, or that I don’t love you anymore, it’s just that the few unbandaged fingers I have get tired. Even so, this one-armed writer feels at least as qualified to exercise my columnist trade as Joe Biden is to run the United States; with the amount of painkillers I have in my blood right now, it is quite likely that my brain is in precisely the same state as the president’s on a clear and auspicious day.
At last, I have found a practical application for this passion for politics we share. When the nurse, at the door to the operating room, asked me which hand was to be operated on in order to draw a cross on it with a marker pen, I immediately answered without thinking: “the left one, the left doesn’t work.” I think the anesthesia then did me a bad turn, because I found myself angrily suggesting to the anesthesiologist that he put an end to, once and for all, Jimmy Carter’s nefarious government, which left him somewhat disconcerted; although he later told me that he is used to drugged patients confessing to all kinds of infidelities, crimes, murders, and other minor matters that certain types of people keep in the darkest corners of their conscience, even if they are not involved in politics. Be that as it may, thanks to my political prejudices, they operated on the right hand, which was the left.
My entire hospital experience has been essentially political. Before the operation, the doctor explained that, after anesthetizing my arm, they would drain it of blood at the beginning of the operation. And although I am horribly apprehensive and had started to get dizzy, I immediately calmed down when I thought that this is the same thing that the government does with the self-employed whenever it is time to pay taxes. After the operation, the doctors told me that it was necessary to remove a wall that was oppressing my tendons, and that everything had gone very well, and I immediately thought of Reagan, Thatcher, and Wojtyla toppling the Berlin Wall and finally freeing the world from communist oppression.
Then there is the hospital bureaucracy. As much as everything has been digitized and times are moving forward, there is still some kind of internal code in place that is perfectly comparable to the disciplinary regime of the former Soviet Union. You can’t drink, you can’t eat whatever you want, of course you can’t smoke, and if despite fasting you are lucky enough to have something inside you that can be urinated, you are obliged to tell the nurse before heading to the bathroom.
It took me 10 minutes of trepidation and cold sweats to make my mind up to comply with such eccentricity, but finally, I pressed the bell, and that beautiful young woman appeared, white robe, dark complexion, fine figure, whom I would have liked to sweet talk, exchange numbers, or even to have invited her to dinner that night, but I surprised myself, hearing words as if from someone else’s mouth, greeting her enthusiastically with a: “Miss, I already peed!” A flicker of a smile crossed her face, she said “OK,” and walked out. In my opinion, so as to not humiliate patients, nurses should at least pretend to pull out a notepad and write down that most crucial event that took place in the bathroom. This girl didn’t even take her hands out of her pockets; I came to the conclusion that her “OK” was ironic and that I was not only one-armed, but also an imbecile.
The bureaucracy becomes unbearable when the doctor discharges you and you can’t wait to get out of there and smoke a cigarette, but he tells you that you have to wait for the nurse to come and take out your IV. And in that wait, 10 minutes is equivalent to an hour, you get to thinking that you’d rather pull the IV out with your teeth, or put a cigarette in it, or at least a shot of whiskey, and you just console yourself with the knowledge that the beautiful nurse will come again and then you can tell her something more romantic and seductive than whether or not you’ve already urinated. But no, cue the towering hulk of what before post-modern socialism was known as a damn macho, dressed in white, ugly and malevolent, ripping the IV out with an absolute disregard for democracy worse than if it were Kamala Harris carrying out her revenge on me for my columns, and telling you, without so much as a smile, to get the hell out of there on the double.
In any case, I do not want to end my hospital chronicle without sending a sincere and grateful hug of appreciation to those who have operated on me and cared for me these days in the hospital, and even to the enemies who sent in such lovely funeral wreaths; maybe next time. Anyway, a hug to everyone except that hideous, murderous male nurse who also deprived me of my last chance of seeing Nurse Pocahontas, for whom I will simply be for the rest of her life “the guy in room 306 who already peed.”