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Tim Gunn calls in Doctor House

September

“Good morning, Lisa. How are you?” Tim Gunn steps into the workroom.

“Fine, Tim, how are you?”

“I’m excellent, thank you.” He moves toward the work-in-progress. “I’m eager to see what changes you’ve made in this novel since we last spoke.” He peers at the illustration of the human digestive system Lisa is studying. “What …?”

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“I’m sorry to say I haven’t made any changes,” admits Lisa. “I’ve been having stomach pains for a couple of months, and when I get home from work at the end of the day, I don’t feel like writing.”

“Oh, dear. I’m so sorry to hear that. Have you seen a doctor?”

“Yes. I’ve had blood tests, and an ultrasound, and a CT scan. I’m scheduled for an endoscopy next Tuesday.”

“Ergh.” Tim raises a hand to his lips. “Um, please don’t tell me any more. I’m afraid I’m ill-equipped to handle medical dramas. I prefer to think of the viscera as a metaphor for gut reactions … not actual organs, full of blood and … ew.” He shudders.

“Okay.”

“However, I’m not entirely without resources. Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Gregory House, a brilliant consulting physician. House, please take good care of her.”

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House glares at Tim. “She’s a middle-aged woman with a stomach ache. You called me here for this?” He gives Lisa a cold, clinical look, then turns to go, saying, “It’s acid reflux. Unless you’ve got diarrhea. Then it’s irritable bowel syndrome. Or some other middle-aged white woman ailment.”

At the word ‘bowel,’ Tim scurries from the room.

“I don’t have acid reflux,” says Lisa. “And I don’t have diarrhea.”

House pauses at the door. Without looking back, he says, “I’m bored. And I’m between cases. When I’m bored I get into trouble. After your endoscopy, have all your test results sent to me.”


October

House limps into the examining room, glances at Lisa, and asks, “The author, right?”

“Uh … yes. I’m an author.”

“I looked up some of your interviews online. You like to joke you’re a teenage boy trapped in the body of a middle-aged woman.”

“I do use that joke sometimes.”

House hands Lisa a photo of the inside of her stomach. “You’ll have to retire that joke. Turns out you’re a sixty-year-old hard-drinking man trapped in the body of a middle-aged woman. Your pancreas looks like it belongs to a blues guitarist who’s been on the road partying for decades, not some little woman author from Oregon.” He sighs loudly. “You should be Buddy Guy! Why couldn’t I get Buddy Guy?”

Lisa studies the photo, all baffling internal chutes and ladders, to her eye. “But I don’t really drink.”

House cocks his head. “You don’t?”

“I mean I have a glass of wine once in awhile, and a margarita when I go out for Mexican food … and sometimes a foofy cocktail with friends … but I’m barely even a social drinker.”

“Huh.” He shrugs. “Your chronic pancreatitis is idiopathic, then.”

“My … what is what?”

“It means we don’t know what caused it. Chronic pancreatitis. You’ve got it.”

“Oh!”

“No more margaritas for you. The chronic pancreatitis most likely caused SVT, which in turn caused —”

“SVT?”

“Splenic vein thrombosis. A clot in the spleen’s vein. Which caused gastric varices. Your spleen will have to come out.”

“My spleen will have to come out? Are you sure?”

“Well, we could wait around for your varices to rupture, and you to start bleeding internally. Then we’d remove it during an emergency surgery. Your call.”

Lisa pales.

“It’s no big deal. We can do it laparoscopically. Unless there are complications during surgery. Then we’ll open you up like lunch box and have that spleen out in a matter of minutes.”

Lisa takes a deep breath. “What would you do?”

House turns serious for a moment. “I would have it removed.”

She nods. “Okay. Let’s do it. Hey, aren’t you supposed to misdiagnose me first, then find the real problem and solution in a dramatic denouement?”

House’s blue eyes sparkle. “Lisa, this is real life.”


November

Mini-Surgery

The morning of the surgery, Lisa undergoes a procedure called “embolization” of the splenic artery. The point is to cut off blood to the artery that feeds into the spleen, thus reducing the amount of blood that would be lost during the splenectomy.

It is fun.

In a parallel universe.

In this universe, it requires a wire to be threaded through Lisa’s arterial system, starting in the groin. Pre-surgery, the radiologist discovers that Lisa is ticklish. He discusses this inconvenient trait with the anesthesiologist, and they plot to sedate the ticklishness out of her.

And indeed, she is sedated enough not to care about the IVs and the mortifying prep and the wire and the cold operating room and the occasional loud commands from the radiologist, “LISA, DON’T MOVE OR BREATHE.”

Surgery

After the mini-surgery, Lisa has to lie flat for a couple of hours. That handy sedation keeps her unaware of time passing. But her spleen actually starts to hurt. Who knew? The spleen is a hard-working, unassuming organ that never asks for thanks … it will only start to complain if you cut off its blood supply. Pain meds don’t seem to help. By the time Lisa is wheeled into a second operating room, she can’t wait to be unconscious. The anesthesiologist obliges.

Surgery … recovery … pain … nausea … etc.

After a very long day, Lisa’s husband kisses her and goes home, leaving her in the kind, capable hands of the nursing staff.

Post-surgery tips:

1) The day after surgery is the worst. It helps if you remind yourself, “I’ll feel better in a couple of days.”

2) If a doctor who looks like she just walked off the set of “House” comes into the room and introduces herself, saying, “Hi, I’m Doctor O, and I work with Dr. M (your surgeon),” and you instantly vomit, don’t feel bad. Anesthesia makes a lot of people sick. *

3) Be sure and use the little breathalyzer thingie to keep your lungs moving.

4) Be sure and start walking the halls as soon as you can to keep your blood moving.

5) Prepare to hear the question “Have you passed gas yet?” every day until you actually do. Then the nursing staff will actually make a note of this in your file, using the word “flatus.”

6) Don’t get mad at the nurse assistants for round-the-clock-every-two-hours temperatures, blood pressure, blood oxygen readings, etc. It’s their job. The tips of my fingers were sore and scabby after five days of blood sugar tests. Oy.

7) The pain meds will help you heal. If they don’t work, tell someone. They’ll figure out something that works.


One week post-surgery

Tim Gunn steps into the workroom and calls cheerfully, “Morning, Lisa.”

“Hi, Tim.” Lisa stands before him in her bathrobe.

“What is this?” he asks, taking in her plaid pajama pants, blue t-shirt, green robe, and sheepskin slippers.

“I had surgery last week, so I’ve been taking it kind of easy.”

“You had surgery last week, and you’re still wearing your pajamas?” Tim asks, appalled. “Did they remove your dignity?”

“No, my spleen,” says Lisa testily.

“Oh, dear.”

“I put clothes on when people come to visit,” she mutters.

“Well, it’s good to know you’ve retained some sense of decorum.” He pauses, then says, “Aw, you’ll miss venting your spleen, won’t you?”

“Yes, I will! But I guess it’s time for an era of the less splenic Lisa.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Better every day. Where’s House?’

“Back on another mystifying case, so he sent me. I’m glad you’re healing nicely. Do you feel like writing yet?”

Lisa shakes her head. “No, I don’t even feel like reading, let alone writing. I’m on pain meds, so I’m only really capable of watching TV. But once I start getting the urge to write again, I’ll probably start with a blog post.”

“Good idea. Flex those writing muscles.”

Lisa smiles. “In the meantime, there’s a House marathon on TV today.”


* This actually happened. She introduced herself, I said, "Don't take this personally," and hurled.




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Comments

( 24 inscriptions — Inscribe a note )
literaticat
Nov. 22nd, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Ooooh my goodness! *gentle hugs*

(Though this made me laugh, too. Sorry for your spleen.)
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!
artistq
Nov. 22nd, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)
LISA! Oh my gosh! How painful and scary!
I am so glad you are feeling a bit better! You write a great Tim Gunn! I think Tim would be impressed. And a perfect Gregory House too! You have been watching a little tv!

Welcome back!!



lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Laura!

There's nothing like some medical drama to remind you to be grateful for good health, right?

Happy Thanksgiving!
arcadian72
Nov. 22nd, 2010 01:46 pm (UTC)
Hey - I threw up ON my anesthesiologist during my C-section!

So sorry you had to go through that, but I am so happy the culprit was found and now you can feel better!

Plus? I love your Tim Gunn visits! :)
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!! Happy Thanksgiving!
soniag
Nov. 22nd, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
You are so brilliant!

And I know you must be feeling better if you can write such a charming/hilarious account of such a horrendous experience. *hugs* (In your darkest days in the hospital, were you thinking "some day this pain will be useful to me?")

♥♥♥
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Heehee! No, I didn't imagine I would get a blog post out of the whole thing, but it certainly did bring me up to speed on current medical practices, in case I write an MC who needs surgery. :-0
rj_anderson
Nov. 22nd, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
When the going gets tough, the tough write fanfic. You are amazing, Lisa. I'm so glad you came through your surgery OK, and I hope this is the beginning of a much better time in your life!
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, RJ! Nothing like medical drama to remind you to appreciate good health.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your mom's saffron cake. :-)
jenlibrarian
Nov. 22nd, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
sending you lots of strong healing thoughts!

lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jen!!
sarah_prineas
Nov. 22nd, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
How wretched--and I hope you're feeling better (that is, writing) soon. Take care!
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Sarah! I can't wait to be ALL HEALTHY again.

Happy Thanksgiving.
(Deleted comment)
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Holly!

Happy Thanksgiving.
jamarattigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
((Hugs)) Brilliant post; glad you're feeling better and the worst is over.
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jama!!

Happy Thanksgiving.
authorjamie
Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
Love this, love both shows. :)
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jamie!
greenbeantq
Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
Feel better Lisa!!! I love your Tim Gunn posts-they always make me laugh.
lkmadigan
Nov. 22nd, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Sarah! I love writing the Tim Gunn posts.

Happy Thanksgiving!
robinellen
Nov. 22nd, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you still have your sense of humor :) (((HUGS))) for the surgery and all the pain. I'm glad you're on the flip-side now and will only feel better and better!! Happy Thanksgiving, dear Lisa!
writerjenn
Nov. 22nd, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
The next time Tim Gunn shows up in your head had better be a happier, healthier occasion, 'sall I'm saying.

Best wishes, KMad!
lisaalbert
Nov. 24th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
Man, you've been through Hell! It resulted in a very entertaining post for us! Hope you bunch back quick and you're able to enjoy some turkey and trimmings!!

And because your dog and my dog look like twins..I'm using her pic today. :-)
( 24 inscriptions — Inscribe a note )