Surgery was so minor it was done at hospital

December 12, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

No one would be surprised to learn that last week I went to Washington County Hospital and got my throat slit.

What might be revealing is that I asked for it.

For the past few years now, I've had a knot on the side of my neck that made it look as if I'd been bitten by a 250-pound mosquito. It didn't bother me in the least, but it almost always made children cry, and stuff. If I'd had a matching lug on the other side of my neck, I would have looked exactly like Frankenstein. More so, I mean.

Worse, when you have an obvious deformity, all of a sudden everyone's a doctor. Some people were ready to rush me to the hospital and call for a priest, others - recalling that "Uncle Ernie used to have one of those, and he lived to be 50" - assured me that it was no big deal.


In any event, no one likes it if their main conversation piece is a tumor, so I immediately, over the course of two years, decided to have something done.

It wasn't a tumor, obviously, it was a cyst, and there was a medical explanation for it that I tried to pay attention to, but couldn't.

I gather that when the hydraulics in some epidermal sinkhole fail, all manner of "debris" (the doctor's word, not mine) uses the shelter as some kind of safehouse and eventually it becomes more overcrowded than a studio apartment in Calcutta.

Removing it was an easy enough chore, I was told, so I made the appointment. The work had to be done at the hospital because, I am not kidding, arcane medical regulations dictate that such a slice could be performed at an outpatient clinic unless it was UNDER something like an inch in length, in which case it had to be a hospital job.

In other words, I was told something along the lines of, "Because this surgery is so minor, it has to be done at the hospital."

And we wonder why our health-care system is failing.

The second downer came when I came to understand that the word "surgery" just doesn't have the same zap that it used to.

Remember surgery? That used to get everyone's attention. "He's having surgery." He might live, he might not. It's surgery. Better kiss him goodbye, just in case.

Blame modern medicine, but tell someone today you're having surgery, and you might as well tell him that you're planning to rotate your tires. I kept waiting for women to tearfully line up at my door bringing soup and it never happened.

Worse, I was hoping to milk some serious time off of work, but a quick conversation with the doctor dashed my hopes:

"So, I guess you'll be wanting me to stay off my feet for a week or so?

"No, that won't be necessary."

"A couple of days then."

"No, you'll be fine."

"So just the rest of the day is all?"

"No, not really, you'll be able to do whatever you want."

"I see. Well can't you maybe botch the surgery a little? Not enough to leave a scar, just a complication or two..."

"Um, I think we're ready to get started here."

"Bad reaction to anesthesiology?"

"You're only getting a local."


"Please be quiet."

Humph. I walked out of the operating room and went straight to the gym. Stupid advances in medical science.

As a matter of fact, all you need to know about the state of modern medicine today is that the surgery took 10 minutes, filling out the paperwork took 45. But the women were so cheerful and helpful about it, that I couldn't even complain about that.

What these people failed to understand is that my needs are not the same as most men's needs. How am I supposed to get a decent humor column out of a medical procedure if nothing goes wrong?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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