Got Staples?

Before I go any further, I need to say God bless medical personnel. All medical personnel. Doctors, nurses, respiratory or radiation technicians, CNAs, phlebotomists….you name it, I admire them. More than I would wish of the last 10 percent of my life has been spent with lots of medical people. What I feel when I spend any time around folks in the medical field is gratitude and a strong understanding that if you offered me an annual salary of $500,000, I could not work as even a Candy Striper.  Blood makes me woozy. Vomit makes me throw up. Needles give me the willies. I accidentally drop pills down the drain.

Yesterday afternoon I took Bec for her two-week surgical follow-up. If you are counting on your fingers, you are correct that it has not been two weeks since she had surgery. In fact, yesterday was a week and a day. Still, she had scheduled her follow-up for Thursday (which, of course, is still not two weeks; just sayin’), but an issue with her bandage arose that required an earlier appointment. Because of the appointment change, she knew she would not be seeing her surgeon, but a physician’s assistant instead.

We were put into an examination room, and within minutes, a young man in perhaps his early-to-middle 20s wearing a track suit comes in and cheerfully greets us. He asks all of the right questions. How are you doing? How is your pain? Are you getting around alright?

He then instructs her to pull down her pants so he could look at her surgical site. She did so.

“You have staples?” he said with great surprise in his voice.

Despite his apparent surprise, he left and returned with a medical version of a staple remover, and began snipping staples. As he snipped, he offhandedly said, “So this is your two-week follow-up?”

Bec replied that it really was only a week plus a day, but she had an issue with her bandage that brought her in earlier. He immediately stopped snipping. I sensed a bit of panic.

“Does that change your thoughts about removing the staples?” I asked him. He admitted that it might, and went to get Someone More Important.

After he left, Bec and I looked at each other. Who do you suppose he is, we wondered. Bec swallowed hard. Maybe the maintenance man?

Our friend returned with someone who certainly looked at least a bit older, so hopefully more experienced. He looked at her surgical site and said with great surprise in his voice, “You have staples?”

At this point I began to wonder if perhaps the surgeon had been rummaging through a drawer the morning of the surgery looking for some Lifesavers and found some unused staples and decided that waste not, want not was a motto by which he would live.

This man left to get Someone Even More Important. At this point Bec and I were just hoping it would be someone not wearing a track suit.

The two of them return with a woman who seemed very experienced, and she looked at the surgical site. Bec and I held our breath. The staples either didn’t bother her or she had been forewarned before entering the room that perhaps gasping at the sight of staples wasn’t doing anybody any good.

“It looks great,” she said. “Keep snipping.” Not a word about staples.

The bottom line is that Bec got a great report, she no longer has staples in her leg (and perhaps never should have), and instead of surgical gauze, she has little bandages that will remove themselves at their own pace. By next week, she can drive a car.

But the best news is that as the young man in the track suit left the room, he didn’t grab the trash can on the way out. It gave us great hope that he wasn’t actually the maintenance man.

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