Watch Your Back

Life On The Back Page With Daryl Gay, June 2018

Daryl Gay | June 11, 2018

Our eyes locked, for but a moment, because I had never been more nervous with any woman.

“Strip all the way down,” she said quietly while extending a garment, “and put this on.”

I took it, hands trembling, without reply. Didn’t seem to be a whole lot to say.

Ok, ok, get your mind out of the gutter; it was a hospital gown.

I think.

If you’ve kept up with me chasing just about everything that bites or claws over the past three decades, you may find this hard to believe: last month was my first time ever as a paying customer inside a hospital.

Had I known then what I went on to discover, ‘spect I’d have just gone off and arm-wrestled a 12-foot gator.

Again. Trust me: gators is a heap more fun!

This was all supposed to be one of those precautionary tests that so-called sensible folks undergo every five or 10 years. How I got into the mix is beyond any of us. But at least I managed to hold out a heap longer that most. (And if you folks in the gowns get ME back in five years, you’ll have witnessed a true miracle!)

Back to that garment…

It goes without saying that MY hospital visit would be unlike any other since surgery was conducted in caves. I don’t get it, boys; just lucky, I guess.

I must’ve flipped that chunk of cotton 30 different ways attempting to figure what piece covered which part. It crossed my mind to look out and tell the nurse that it was for a 9-year-old girl; but she hadn’t seemed to have much of a sense of humor. And did have needles.

Fortunately, as he has always been, Dylan was but a couple of feet away, other side of the sliding curtain.

“Hey, Bud,” I whispered, “know anything about hospital gowns?”

Fortunately, I hadn’t stripped ALL the way down, so he was OK with easing in to lend a hand. UN-fortunately, he looked at the thing the same way I had. E-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y, we figured it out, and I climbed up onto a gurney—grabbing a sheet to hide the 98 percent that excuse for a gown failed to cover.

I’ve got bandanas bigger than that. And with no snaps.

Remember: this is all a first for me. I ain’t had a drink in 26 years, but if there’d been a quart bottle of Bud nearby, the streak just might’ve been in jeopardy.

It’s the unknown; like, which one of y’all is going to stick me with how big a needle and where?

Then I found out. Having protected the names of the semi-innocent up to this point, I’m going to insert the only one you’ll see right here: Patricia Alligood.

I love Patricia Alligood. As only a man who’s never had a sister can. Always been that way, 20-plus years. Her husband’s a baseball guy, our boys came up together, on and on…

She’s just a sweetheart of a lady, and when that curtain slid back and  I saw her heartwarming smile…

We hugged as always—me with a death grip on the sheet—and perusing my chart, she chortled as another nurse moved in behind her.

“You’re disgustingly healthy. And I’ve got somebody here that wants to meet you, one of your biggest fans…”

Now remember that I’m propped up here nekkider than Adam with his fig leaf, thinking, “Maybe she just needs to come to the Outdoor Blast in July…”

Turns out it was truly an honor to meet the lady, and I’d like to see her again to share reminisces under slightly less extenuating circumstances. She says she always reads and loves this column, so gimme a holler ma’am, and I’ll try to come across next time as something less than a complete delusional idiot.

Patricia put the IV—my first!— in, and wheeled me gleefully away.

“First time I’ve ever taken a patient to surgery with groupies…”

She is one jewel of a nurse; to put me at such ease under those circumstances.

Well, at least until I GOT to surgery and took a glance around…

Maybe I’ve watched too many late-night Frankensteins. I remember thinking that I hoped I didn’t leave looking like Boris Karloff with a bolt and nut in my neck.

The original gown-giving drill sergeant had showed back up, and she ordered: “Turn over on your left side, put your left arm under your cheek…”

And that’s when I checked out. Evidently it was all a tactical diversion, and she snuck a little somethin’ into that IV when my head turned.

And right here is where you learn that who you is is who you is, and they ain’t no changing who you is, as Ma used to tell us boys.

I had misgivings about anesthesia, too, having never been put under. But there was nothing—until they brought me out.


It was all their fault!

Right now, in my mind’s eye, I can see the dream exactly, curiously all in black and white: the big buck was running from my left to right, and I was swinging the Model 70 with total confidence. The crosshairs got just behind the shoulder, with about another 2 feet of swing left—when I woke up!

TWO SECONDS! Couldn’t y’all have given me that long? He would have been down, and I could have showed you a thing or two about undressing. I mean, we already got scalpels here and everything!

But getting back to the real world, if you’ve ever wondered what a colonoscopy is all about, there you have it. I’ve had mine—and it just may have saved my life. You’re up!

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