Bear paw suit

I’m naked under a thermal hospital gown waiting for knee surgery. The gown is called a “bear paw”. The name is not comforting. Bears are scary and their paws and claws are flesh-shredding rasps. Why would they name a hospital gown after a weapon?

Bear paws are a ready made snack, too. A pastry like thing. When the nurse tells me to slip into the bear paw I’m confused because I’m hungry after nine hours of fasting. All I can think about is food.

The gown has an opening just below my hip that looks like the kind of hole you find on a vacuum cleaner bag. A bendy hose nozzle is inserted into it by a nurse who explains a new theory that a warm body heals faster. He flicks the on-button. The gown begins to inflate with warm air.

I watch the space around my abdomen round and spread like rapidly growing fat cells, the kind one grows from eating too much icing shaved from cupcakes and drinking too many bottles of well-chilled Riesling on hot summer nights. He passes me the temperature control knob. Where was this device when I was in the thick of menopause? Could cold air be substituted?

After hours of fasting, I feel hollow and the hot air infusion worries me. What if I float away? I’m attached to a hose, like an astronaut tethered to a space capsule so I wouldn’t get far. Just float up to the ceiling where I could look down on the empty bed and laugh when the nurse comes looking and discovers I’ve ballooned out of reach.

The anesthesiologist visits me, goes over what will happen, how long the procedure will take, what to expect when I wake up, what paperwork will be given to me. He’s efficient and painless. The surgeon comes in, reviews the procedure, double-checks, triple-checks which knee then writes his initials on the incision site. I feel like a graffiti wall. I wonder if he drew a heart around his initials. I like my surgeon. He has that surgeon swagger. Plus he marked my knee. He knows what he’s doing, right?

A nurse puts an oxygen mask over my face and tells me to take lots of deep breaths. I take shallow breaths. The mask scares me. The anesthesiologist starts playing with the I.V. line in my left hand and I know what’s going to happen next.

The clock says 11:05. I’m hungry and thirsty.

At 1:15 I wake up. I’m not hungry anymore. The nurse gives me Dilaudid and Advil. I dress without bending my knee or standing. I plop into a wheelchair. The hot air has left my bear paw suit and I get wheeled out to meet my husband.

The drive home feels like a rocket launcher ride. Cars and trucks blur as we speed down a narrow corn-crop flanked highway, stalks bowing as we whiz by. I can smell the corn niblets growing. I’m hungry again.


21 thoughts on “Bear paw suit

  1. Bruce Goodman September 10, 2015 / 3:07 pm

    Oh, knees up Mother Brown
    Knees up Mother Brown
    Knees up, knees up, never let the breeze up, (in the Bear Paw)
    Knees up Mother Brown.

    Make a full recovery real quick!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cynthia Jobin September 10, 2015 / 3:45 pm

      I second Bruce’s wishes for a speedy and full recovery, Sue.

      And when you’re able to march high-stepping with those knees- up as Bruce advises….you might consider Rusty Warren’s advice (reminiscent of the 1970’s and also a recent post on Wuthering Bites) which is good for your posture, and keeping your knees fit also:

      Knockers up! Knockers up! I just checked it out on youtube and had a good laugh!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • redosue September 11, 2015 / 7:13 am

        Hey! Ho! That old song does perk a body up. Thanks, Cynthia.


    • redosue September 11, 2015 / 7:15 am

      Ha! Think it will be a while before I get me knees or a breeze up! Thanks, Bruce.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. exiledprospero September 10, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    You may want to wait till the weekend before you try a developpé, a high-kicking battement, or even a plié. ‎


  3. Julie Ethan September 10, 2015 / 7:36 pm

    Yeah, this doesn’t make me feel any less revulsion for hospitals or procedures, but I’m thankful it’s all there when it’s needed. Hope you feel better soon and don’t do anything heroic like try to skip a pain med – keep them coming at the regular intervals. Did you ever see Harry Potter in that opening scene when his aunt or somebody, blows up and floats away? I was trying to picture walking into your room and seeing you disproportionate, and keeping a straight face as I explained the risks of anesthesia etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 11, 2015 / 7:06 am

      I’m no hero, Julie. Bring on the pain meds! Yes, I recall the scene from Harry Potter with his inflated Aunt – there’s a symbol, eh? Thanks for sending the good thoughts my way.


  4. Anthony September 10, 2015 / 10:25 pm

    Here’s to a fast recovery. Feel well soon.


    • redosue September 11, 2015 / 7:04 am

      Thanks, Anthony. Already feeling an improvement today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony September 11, 2015 / 9:04 pm

        Huzzah! Good healing thoughts heading your way…


  5. Luanne September 11, 2015 / 12:16 am

    I hope you have the swiftest and most uneventful recovery in history! I love the image of you ballooning up to the ceiling! So funny! What is this food stuff? Strange looking!


    • redosue September 11, 2015 / 7:03 am

      The food stuff is a pre-packaged cookie in the shape of a bear paw – not very good but popular amongst small-fry. Thanks for your good wishes, Luanne!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Luanne September 11, 2015 / 9:44 am

        Yes, it looks kind of scary!


  6. Ellen Morris Prewitt September 16, 2015 / 9:38 am

    I, too, was inflated, a gesture that reminded me of those old-fashioned “mobile” hair dryers we thought were so modern. I greatly appreciated the gesture as I tend toward chills. But no one explained the healing theory; I thought they’d finally realized how damn cold it is in hospitals. So glad it’s in your past and you are on the road to healing. Take care of yourself; your sense of humor will serve you well. 🙂


    • redosue September 16, 2015 / 11:27 am

      I enjoyed the inflation machine, too. I was sorry when they “unhooked” me! Getting better every day, Ellen. Many thanks for your caring words!


  7. Rosanna September 22, 2015 / 4:34 am

    I’ve never seen those bear paws, sounds uncomfortable to wear…but this is why I love the way you write…you can turn an otherwise unpleasant story into an interesting and funny tale. Get well soon!


    • redosue September 22, 2015 / 7:20 am

      The bear paw nightie was a treat and a half. Instead of one of those tissue-thin cotton hospital nighties this was as warm as July on the beach. It was wonderful and soothing. I’m much better that this time last week although walking is still a challenge. Step by step I’ll get there!


  8. J.B. Whitmore October 11, 2015 / 10:50 pm

    I didn’t believe you, and was going to suggest you meant bear claw. Something new every day. Hope your surgeon knew what he was doing and the knee is healing well.


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