As every schoolchild knows, in 1797 Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the famous poem “Kubla Khan.” As I recall, the poem came to him in a drug-induced dream. When he woke up, he started to write it down and was doing well until a visitor interrupted him. By the time the visitor stumbled off or was carried out, Coleridge couldn’t remember what he was doing and the half-poem, now considered a masterpiece, was never finished.

The humble Farmer is quite a sight in his homemade carpal-tunnel splint and his sleep apnea mask. Photo by Bernard Davis

This is relevant only because this morning I too am writing while slowly coming out of a drug-induced coma.

The day started six hours ago when the alarm sounded at 4:30 a.m. My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, sat up in bed, turned off the alarm, which I didn’t hear because I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids, and said, “It’s time to go.”

At 6:45 I was scheduled for corrective surgery on the carpal tunnel problem on my left hand.

A couple of months ago, too much Facebook locked up two fingers and a thumb on my left hand, and since then I’ve been assembling and signing documents and taking a test that would qualify me for the operation. I was told to wear a splint at night so my wrist wouldn’t bend, but the one I bought in the store was so uncomfortable that I made my own. It is a woolly mitten inside a large leather mitten. To achieve the necessary stiffness, I stuff the leather mitten inside a plastic quart milk bottle with the top and bottom cut off, and put a strong rubber band on the inboard end to pinch it together.

You walk into the living room wearing that and a sleep apnea mask with a flopping, dragging tube, topped off with glasses and a baseball cap so you can see to read in bed at night, and the little children playing on the rug will never want to visit Grampy again.

Most medical people get into their business for the same reason real estate or car salespeople enter theirs: They want to spend their lives helping people. Every time you go into a hospital or medical clinic you have found this to be true.

The cheerful nurse who led me back into the gurney-lined inner sanctum immediately uttered a few calming phrases to put me at ease. Because she was an experienced medical professional, I was not ashamed to admit that a cold sweat was running down my back and that I was shaking like a leaf.

Laughing, she turned to me and said, “Why?”

“My wife drove me into town.”

Back in the good old days, before lawyers rented suites in hospitals, you heard of people being mixed up before surgery, Some poor old dubber going in to have a corn scraped from his big toe might go home with cobalt-chromium knees. No chance of that in this brave new world. The vetting process for just the outer gate could not have been passed by Putin’s chef. Once in the prepping room the surgeon himself again verifies your reason for being there, then your identity – by pretending that you look like the 10-year-old picture on your driver’s license – and only then does he whip out a pen, make some cryptic marks on your ailing hand and then initial it to make assurance double sure.

Being an ambulatory patient, I walked the last mile, closely followed by a masked technician pushing a wheeled hat rack. From it hung several plastic bottles, nourishing my arm through small plastic pipes and containing a soothing liquid that puts Lonesome Polecat’s Joy Juice to shame. We would be remiss here if we did not tell our younger readers that Joy Juice was an “elixir of such stupefying potency that the fumes alone have been known to melt the rivets off battleships.”

By the time you are gently pushed and prodded into final position by the skilled OR staff, you have forgotten that for weeks, your shoulders and hips have reminded you that they are there every time you’ve moved.

For an old man who never used alcohol or drugs, being sedated is like Christmas morning for a 5-year-old.

I began this history five hours ago and, although my initial drug-induced writing frenzy started to wane around noon, I attempted to maintain it with one preventive maintenance pain pill, a half cup of coffee and a heaping plate of B&M baked beans. Only you can judge if it was worth the bother.

The world might be a better place simply because Coleridge never finished his poem. Even jacked up with coffee, a prescription pill and B&M beans, he might have fizzled out and ended up with a pointless verbal montage more likely to be printed in The New Yorker.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html


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