Muldoon: I feel like shit. My back hurts. My neck hurts.
Belinda: Stop whining and get checked out. Don’t go using your aches and pains to get out of helping out around here.
Dr. Magid: Your x-rays look weird. I’m going to refer you to a neurologist.
Muldoon: I hate neurologists. They don’t fix anything. Since they don’t make any money from fixing anything, they always tell you not to get it fixed – to be “conservative”. What bullshit! Don’t you know someone who can actually deal with this?
Dr. Magid: I’m sending you to Doctor Weil. He can fix it. His motto is “You heal with steel.”
Dr. Weil: I can fix this on Saturday. My daughter and wife are away and I have nothing else to do. Go check into St. Luke’s. We’ll work on L- 3-5. That ought to help free up your left leg and relieve the pain.
Neurologists visiting in hospital: We need to confirm the neurological findings with some testing.
Muldoon: Get the fuck out of my room. If I want a goddam neurologist I’ll send for one.
Neurologist on the telephone reporting the conversation to my primary physician: “And then he told me to get the fuck out of his room.”
Primary physician: Muldoon likes to take an active part in his treatment. Let’s just leave it to the surgeons in this one, OK?
Saturday, post op, back in my room.
Dr. Weil: It went well. How do you feel?
Muldoon: Wonderful. The pressure and pain in my leg are gone.
Dr. Weil: Great. The operation usually produces immediate relief. I want you to stay here tonight and you can go home in the morning.
Belinda: Can’t you keep him a few more days so I can get some rest?
A few months later.
Muldoon: My neck is giving me fits; it hurts and makes all sorts of crackling sounds whenever I move my head.
Belinda: Call Dr. Weil.
At Dr. Weil’s office.
Dr. Weil: Your neck needs work, but it won’t be as easy as the back operation. This won’t be a walk in the park. We’ll fix C-3 – 7.
Muldoon: How soon can we get it done?
Dr. Weil: I can do it week after next at St Luke’s.
Belinda: Don’t you want to think about this?
Muldoon: I have thought about it. It needs to get fixed.
Belinda (on call to Dr. Muffy, Muldoon’s daughter – the gynecologist): Your dad insists on doing this immediately. What do you think?
Dr. Muffy: Well, you know my dad. I’ll fly down and help keep him under control.
Belinda: Thanks. I really appreciate that.
Muldoon: Thanks, Muffy. This ought to be right up your alley. It’s the cervical spine.
Dr. Muffy: I don’t do that cervix, Dad.
Dr. Muffy, Belinda and Chuck Mullen all show up to gawk at Muldoon in pre op all trussed up and punctured with a line and wearing the funny looking shit they make you wear when they are about to slice your ass up. Mullen has so much fun ridiculing Muldoon that he thereafter shows up for all Muldoon’s surgeries. Same bullshit every time.
At St. Luke’s the day of surgery – recovery room, with Muldoon, Dr, Muffy and recovery room nurse. Muldoon comes out of the anesthesia: I hurt.
Dr. Muffy: Will you please give him another shot? Thanks.
Later, back in the room.
Dr. Weil: You can go home in the morning. Everything went well. You need to keep your head pretty immobile and supported for several days. Minimize head movement. Take pills for discomfort. Call me if there is a problem. Other than that, you are good to go.
Dr. Muffy: Can I get you anything, Dad?
Muldoon: Yeah. There’s a McDonalds downstairs in the hospital. I’d really love a double Texas Home Style burger with cheese and large fries.
Belinda: Can he eat that?
Nurse: No he can’t. He’s on clear liquids. If he eats that he will just throw it up.
Muldoon: I don’t throw up. I’m not some child to be ordered to live on clear liquids unless it’s martinis. Muffy, will you please get me something from McDonalds like I asked for?
Dr. Muffy: Sure dad. I’ll be right back with it.
Belinda: Are you both crazy?
Dr. Muffy: I don’t believe he will throw up if he says he won’t. He’s not your ordinary patient, you know.
Belinda: You’re both nuts. I’m going home. See you tomorrow.
Nurse: Here’s the barf bucket. When you throw all this back up, just clean yourself up and don’t call me about it. (Nurse leaves the room).
Muldoon enjoys his delicious meal from Mc Donald’s and has a peaceful night’s sleep, getting up to go to the bathroom to pee early in the morning without assistance. The nurse comes around with a pissed off attitude because her prediction that Muldoon would throw up did not prove to be true. Dr. Muffy comes to fetch Muldoon and take him home. All is well.
At home, Muldoon is enthroned in his fat boy chair in front of the big TV. Soon he hears screaming from the back yard. It is the neighbor calling for help. Her baby is locked in the car and she left the keys in the car and can’t get the car open. Two men from a passing car approach menacingly. Muldoon rushes out in his underwear with a 357 snub nosed magnum, chases the strangers away by behaving outrageously and takes charge until the police arrive to extricate the baby from the car. Muldoon then returns to his fat boy chair and puts the gun back between the arm of the chair and its cushion, where it is always kept in case an emergency should arise while he is watching TV.
The neighbor lady speaks very little English and now thinks that Muldoon must be a member of the Soprano family because no one else can run around the neighborhood in his drawers acting like a maniac, waiving a pistol and get away with it. Word gets around and Muldoon gets treated by everyone with exceptional respect thenceforth. Even the neighborhood dogs quit crapping on the lawn.
Dr. Muffy is proud of her dad and Belinda is worried that he might have hurt his neck. No problem.
Life goes on. Muldoon recovers and goes on to live what for him is a normal life until he again decides that he needs to see Dr. Weill about his back. There ensues another back operation to repair two fucked up disks at L – 3-4 and he goes home the next morning.
Belinda is starting to think that Muldoon may be enjoying all this, because after each back surgery he gets to go to outpatient rehab for two months where lovely women pamper him, reassure him that he is just fantastic and slowly administer treatments calculated to make him feel good and to bring him slowly back to normal physical functions without overdoing anything. She goes to visit the rehab session pretending to be going there to say thank you to everyone for all their help. Satisfied that none of the therapists is even remotely as good looking as she is, she decides not to be concerned.
Next year Muldoon complains about his right shoulder. He is sent to Dr. Bryan the shoulder guy, as they call him, and Dr. Bryan pronounces him in need of a total shoulder replacement. The new shoulder is made of titanium and Muldoon thinks he will become like Superman. Dr. Muffy is consulted. She comes down for the surgery, just like all the other times. All goes well, but soon there is another back episode and this time Dr. Weil decides that Muldoon needs some screws and rods and stuff like that implanted to enhance stability. They go in big time, and Muldoon’s back starts to look like something Dr. Frankenstein might have been stitching on. But it works and he returns to his favorite rehab babes for TLC and some rehab. On the rare occasions when Muldoon does not behave outrageously during rehab, the head lady in charge brings him a piece of candy that looks like a chocolate body part. He mistook which part it was until he turned it around to the right way and could see that it was actually chocolate lips and not a chocolate vagina. His remarking about that put an end to the thank you candy.
He goes back to the same rehab joint every time he needs reassurance that he is the catch of the day. The therapists see right through his bullshit and falsely lead him along to think that if he really does will in rehab he might just score a happy ending party. See The Uses Of Fantasy In Physical Rehabilitation Of The Human Male elsewhere in this anthology of weird shit.
Several months later Muldoon’s other shoulder starts coming apart. What is clear from the pattern is that he is paying for the sins of his younger years. Fortunately he lives in Houston where medically just about anything is possible and actually done successfully every day. What passes for medical treatment elsewhere in the country and in the world is not even close in quality or in its raw capability. Also fortunately, he has no underlying medical problems. There is no heart disease or diabetes, and his lungs do everything that lungs are supposed to do. Ultimately, however, his continued good health and happy life are due to Belinda. She has really made his life worth cherishing, and only the desire to have many years to spend happily with her could ever have brought him to make the kinds of lifestyle decisions that enable longevity. All his friends know that and regularly remind him of how incredibly lucky he is to have Belinda in his life.
Anyway, another appointment is made with Dr. Bryan, who proclaims that the shoulder is worn out and needs to be replaced with another titanium shoulder that will also last forever, even if he does not. This time everyone is getting used to the drill. Belinda does not go into a grand mal fret over it. Dr. Muffy is informed that there is no need for her to come down to be here and reassure everyone – which is really fortunate because she now has two kids and two kids visiting when a new shoulder is being installed is not a good idea.
Two weeks before the new shoulder job Muldoon needs to get his right thumb opened up and one of the joints rehabilitated to remove some accumulated arthritic shit. He calls Dr. Magid and asks: Do you know a surgeon who does hand jobs? Dr, Magid refers Muldoon to a pal who does hand jobs and who also has a good enough sense of humor not to come unglued when Muldoon refers to what he does as “hand jobs”. Hand job surgery is not a general anesthesia situation, and they get Muldoon to about where he used to be every Friday night at Muldoon’s back in the old dry Beefeater martini days of faded glory. The stitches come out just before the next shoulder replacement. The thumb is now fine. Everyone is now so blasé about his procedures that he just takes a taxi to get the hand job done, although Belinda does come to fetch him so he doesn’t go to Muldoon’s on the way home from the operation, with the happy stuff they gave him just wearing off.
Two weeks later he appears at his favorite major procedure hospital in Houston, selected because it is an easier drive from the house, right off an exit of the Belinda Matte Freeway; because his two favorite surgeons both do operations there; because the food is pretty good; because they have free valet parking; and because he expects one day soon to be retained by the hospital to represent them in a reputation restoration after a major TV expose about their ridiculous billing practices.
The hospital is owned by some entrepreneurial doctors and has a big spender wing where every patient has a suite of rooms and can entertain and have anything he might like – and I do mean anything - catered in. There is so much money in Houston that a big spenders hospital wing is always fully booked.
Muldoon does not get a room/suite in that part of the hospital, but his single private room is billed out at $ 17,500 a day. Since his shit is all covered by insurance, the hospital gets paid only a small fraction of what is billed and he does not have to pay the balance. The hospital settles for whatever insurance will pay. But in an era of huge public attention being paid to the cost of medical care, a hospital that bills out $ 17,500 a day for a single room could easily find itself on the evening news being excoriated by Dago Dwayne, ace investigative reporter and successor in interest to Watch Dog News that outed the Chicken Ranch over in LaGrange, known far and wide in theater as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”.
Belinda does not let him take a taxi to a shoulder replacement operation, and Muldoon teases her that she only drives him there so she doesn’t have to hear from Dr. Muffy should everything go wrong that she let him take a taxi to his last roundup. Much to her dismay, Dr. Bryan announces that it went so well that he can go home the next day. She loudly complains that she expected at least a few days off to get some happy shopping done without Muldoon under foot.
The easiest way to get Muldoon off the Vicodin quickly is to prohibit wine until he is done with Vicodin. He gets off Vicodin in two days. Now he gets to go back to the hot honeys for another round of rehab on his left shoulder, and the news of his coming back for more has reached the facility. The bullshit immediately commences and word gets back to him that the two best looking therapists in tight pants are fighting over which of them will get assigned to his rehab. Since the bullshit is so transparent, he and Belinda just chuckle.
Only in Texas can having major reconstructive surgery be so much fun. God I love living here!
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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