The Surgical Story by Reginald Crump

I pick up the phone.

"Merry Christmas I have a special gift for you today!"

It's Manchild!!!

He's calling from his mothers who also sends Christmas wishes.

Manchild loves a good surprise and practical jokes. I can only imagine what might be in store for this day that Jesus was born.

Since the first night of my hospital stay the whirlwind of concern and confusion has also lead to the when's and how's Manchild might get to Virginia.

Until 2016, our holiday celebrations have always meant that we split for Turkey Day and Christmas. It's been the right thing to do, understanding that neither of us felt the need to pull away from family tradition that had been in place for decades. We of course enjoy the holidays but we haven't been at all wrapped up in the need to create our personal new traditions.

Until now.

Thanksgiving 2016 saw us driving 7 hrs at 4am in a rental car to Williamsburg, Virginia to stay for 3 days. The day after Thanksgiving we drove to Maryland to celebrate Manchilds birthday. That was my first time driving that distance. I can get use to it, if I have to.

So, now it's Christmas Day.

My cousins who are located close to WMBG are visiting their younger brother who resides in Northern Virginia with his significant other. I've heard through the grapevine that there has been talk of them picking Manchild up to bring him when they come. Of course he doesn't tell me any of this. I should mention, as much as Manchild loves to surprise, I like figuring out surprises. I'm psychic. But this time I don't spoil the fun like I usually do.

We talk about the success of the party he spun for before traveling home to his moms, my surprise guest and the meals they've been feeding me and my escalating blood pressure.

For years now we've spent short amounts of time on the phone on Christmas morning before heading into the day of creating memories and celebrating with family and friends of the family, without each other.

We completed our conversation with our usual I love u's and I'll call u later.

I immediately call my mother before I call my sister.

Merry Christmas, what are y'all doing? She puts me on speaker phone and turns it up loud, so that my dad can hear me as well.

"Finishing up breakfast and getting ready to go to church." We'll be down to the hospital early this evening. How are you feeling?"

I'm ok, I've had breakfast already, now I'm talking on the phone and watching HGTV. You know just hanging out in a hospital gown with my ass out and occasionally having to pee into this Tupperware thing they gave me. It's so convenient, the tupperware thingy. I need one for home. I'll never ever have to get up to pee during the night again.

My mom and dad burst into laughter.

"That's all you watch is HGTV isn't it?"

For the most part.

I guess I'm learning a lot from it.

I'm learning about home decor, construction, flipping houses, the world, desire, wants vs. needs, classism, colonialism, gentrification, excessiveness. It's fun filled entertainment. I love it. Besides when I turn it off all I can focus on is B-Flat and A-Sharp.

the surgical story by Reginald Crump

He responds, "Bruton High School!"

They say I look young, but I have to admit it's been years now since I've been in high school. The face I recognize immediately. Almost as if it was yesterday, but names from decades of meeting folks start to come into play, all at once. He gives me another clue. 

Oh, my god!

It's been forever.

Literally!

I can't even believe it what an amazing surprise! It's been literally since graduation day.

How in the hell are you? What a random place for us to run into each other.

Well... you run into me.

I haven't been running in years and by the looks of my condition at the moment I won't be winning any marathons anytime soon. I'm just hanging out here, w/ my IV's, machines and HGTV.

Have a seat.

At this point I've got nothing but time to kill.

For nearly four hours, we went into great detail about our adventures following high school years.

We laughed about our New Breed attitude in High School and the over accessorized fashion terror we caused. Wardrobe combinations, Punk/New Wave, walking hallways as a runway.

I wasn't shocked to find that we'd both traveled the world and maintained a desire to do so.

We laughed at the push back that was given, growing up in a small town and how ironic it was that he now works for the hospital and noticed my name as soon as it popped up in the system.

Monstah Black isn't so common.

We talked until almost 1:30 in the morning. We exchanged information and vowed to keep in touch. He ensured that I was in good hands and that we'd connect soon.

Life is so strange how it leads you in one direction and then the next. Reconnecting with family and friends seems keeps one grounded in this ever changing world, where seasons blur into each other, creating confusion, a little chaos, disorder and sickness.

I was grateful to have had a friend pop through unannounced. Someone I'd least expected. Someone who drifted into a completely opposite direction because life happened. Yet somehow on Christmas Eve 2016 our paths were meant to cross again while I lay in this hospital bed.

Oh so grateful.

Shortly after he left the nurse entered. Checking my vitals, pain level and to once again plug me in to the vibrating bed for circulation.

Certain that I'd be able to drift off into a comfortable sleep I closed my eyes and there I was, back again, floating and topsy turvy'ing through space as if nothing happened and everything was ok with the world.

It seemed like only a matter of minutes before the next shift of nurses entered to check my vitals.

Somewhere in the mix of this hospital stay, mornings began including a shot into the side of my stomach. Everything was always explained in detail. When it wasn't I asked. At the time it seemed as though I'd be able to hold onto that information forever. Honestly, I've never been known for my memory. Unless it was related to something kinesthetic and even now that seems to be less prominent.

Oh, the blessings that come with advancement.

The needles have at this point become less frightening. Usually because I focus on the fact that if I can endure the pain of a tattoo needle, body piercings or the disgusting taste of a celebratory shot of alcohol, I shouldn't flinch when having to drink medicine or at the prick of a needle.

Before I know it, breakfast arrives bright and early. It's Christmas morning. It's still way to early to call anyone. It's about 6:30 or 7:00am.

Mmm, breakfast. My favorite. It's Christmas morning right?

 I deserve to have real bacon, real sausage, eggs, pancakes, juice. Why not? After inhaling breakfast I drift back into sleep to the sound of HGTV.

Again a nurse enters to check my vitals, ask my level and pain and oh yes, a shot in my stomach.

Originally I thought I'd be heading home on Christmas night.

Not so much.

The hospital is a ghost town and the only people working are those who agreed to work. Probably because there are no children at home to cater to the sugary, glistening, fun filled excitement of Santa shimmying down a far too narrow chimney stack. No children, anxiously waiting to open freshly wrapped packages to reveal the brand spanking new tricycle that they asked Santa to bring.

The phone rings.

THE SURGICAL STORY by Reginald Crump

Evening falls slowly into night.


A nurse enters.

She asks what my pain level is from 1 to 10. This is where I completely understand the number system. I believe I am at 3 or 4. Clearly because the pain killers from the operation hadn't completely warn off.

Not long after she asked I called her back in, to let her know that something was changing and I could feel the pain rising to a 5, 6 or 7. Out of fear of approaching 10, I agreed I should have 2 doses of Percocet.

Now it's clear to me. I'm not interested in 8, 9 or 10. Numbness at this point seemed to be the answer.

Remote in hand, I lay quietly staring at the tv, occasionally switching to other channels to see what I might be missing. 


Nothing.


HGTV it is.

I'm much more interested in seeing tiny homes or horribly ruined or outdated houses being flipped into luxurious, overpriced Mac Daddy/Mama Pads with mind blowing back splash, concrete counter tops and dangerous marble islands that risk anxious kindergarteners running into them head first. "Honey what did I say about roller skating in the house?"

That's a little dark.

But its not as dark as the sensation I start to feel from being on so much medication. My chin dips south toward my right shoulder as my upper eyelashes join the bottom row. A familiar sensation I failed to mention happening the night before. I open my eyes and looked around the room and down to the sides of the bed to see if my bed was in fact floating on a miniature barge and rocking me from side to side. Cradling me in the warmth of a bosom that made everything in the world ok. I was fascinated by this electric bed, vibrating my insides, taking my soul on a psychedelic ride. Topsy turvy'ing around this pristine hospital room.

I shifted from side to side and began to play with the positioning of my head and body and where those positions would send my mind. Ah, this is the dangerous place where many find it challenging to escape. Clutched by the grip of opiates. My head tilts down, relaxing my chin again, dipping southwest of my chest. My tongue softens away from the roof of my mouth. This ultimate bliss, oh so dangerous. Thank the gods and goddesses I'm aware of it. 


It's clear to me now that if someone were looking at me at this moment they would think that I'm asleep. Dozing off.

Bingo!

I'm not asleep at all.

I'm drifting aimlessly in the womb of this trip where everything is ok and only I exist and here I'm safe, nonetheless. Sort of.

Yes, this is the dangerous place.

This is that place that you see on big city corners. The place where someone's brother, sister, mother or father is bent over at the waist, with their eyes softly closed and their head nearing the ground, almost toppling over into the busy street. Still managing to balance in a place that seems not at all humanly possible if you are taking an afternoon nap.

That place where strangers pass you by shaking their head as they hurry into the cross walk, sipping their Venti - mocha - triple shot - soy latte. Caffeinated buzz/drug, on their way to their brand new office chair in a cubicle or tiny room in hopes to land that big deal for the day. Reaching for that white picket fence around that perfectly manicured lawn. That pristine house on the hill surrounded by soft grass that is the absolute perfect shade of green and trees you can get lost in, in the distance.

That not so chic heroin place, where you might slip into losing everything but the clothes you currently have on your back. That place that might lead you to begging for change just to get another hit, or another pill. Just to get another moment like this that gets tougher and tougher to reach as your body gets use to it.


I get it.


I get the importance of monitoring your actual need for a higher dosage.

I get it.

It's clear.

My challenge? To see how long it takes me before I feel real pain.


I open my eyes and lay there staring into space.

I get it.


Knock knock kock...


Someone stands in the cracked doorway, a familiar face, tall, caucasian.

A kind face.

A doctor?

A nurse?

I can't wrap my brain around where I know this person from.

Is it Richmond?, Is it D.C? Is it New York City?


They say, "hi, can you remember me?"

I know the face. Oh so familiar.


Dear god is it Jesus?


Buddah?


Mary is that you?

The Surgical Story by Reginald Crump

I open my eyes and I'm back in the smaller room from before.

"I made it."

I looked down to check that both legs were there. I still have a penis, I have a flat chest instead of breasts and everything seems to be functioning as normal with the exception of the obvious left leg. My knee bandage is thicker, cleaner and neater. I don't feel any pain. I'm rolled back to my room, I get lost in HGTV and then the phone rings. It's my mom.

"Oh yeah, I've been out of surgery for half an hour to an hour."

I'm not sure why I thought the nurses would call everyone for me if all went well. So, i made the rest of my phone calls. Dining services entered to ask what I wanted for dinner.

Starving.

I couldn't wait to eat.

I can’t remember what I ate, but it had something to do with beef, some vegetables, dessert and sugary juice options along with canned ginger ale.

Somewhere during or after that meal something dawned on me. When my vitals are checked, “hi Mr. Crump I’m here to check your vitals,” the nurses ask, "do usually have high blood pressure?"

"Well you're on medication and a high dosage of antibiotics so it's not too unusual."


Has anyone stopped to think about the food I've been eating since I was admitted?

Food I don't normally eat and juices I don't normally drink?

At this point my body is being taken on an unfamiliar roller coaster on top of being motionless and it’s not happy about it.

Of course I’m on the verge of hypertension.

 Bandages -left knee surgery -right circulation and blood flow

Bandages -left knee surgery -right circulation and blood flow

The Surgical Story by Reginald Crump

Um...

ok.

Now everything is happening super fast. I'm making major life decisions on my own and if this is the end, then well, I guess this is the way it's happening.

Fear.

Check list of all my belongings locked up in the safe. The wheels of the bed get unlocked. I'm rolled through the hallways. Mr. Young and kind is comforting me with small talk and filling me in on what's happening as we enter elevators and wheel past all sorts of unfamiliar territory.

My mind wanders.

I'm suddenly in the middle of my very real, personal horror story. This imagination is a blessing, but sometimes a curse.

I'm being kidnapped.

They can do anything to me at this point.

I could wake up with a Vagina and tits.

They could sell my body parts to a billionaire somewhere in Switzerland or something. The thoughts were fast, the thoughts were endless.

Fear.

Finally we reached a room that felt like it was in the basement. I could only assume that we went down in the elevator. So weird.

I was rolled into a smaller room (this time with no windows) and comforted by 2 nice ladies in festive shower caps which of course I complemented them on.

"Yaaaaasss! I love your show cap!"

They were fun and made me feel like everything would be ok. They gave me the run down. Had me sign more paper work and then I waited for another 30 minutes for the room for surgery to be ready.

Ok, so that is the most responsibility I've ever had. If I need a blood transfusion, sure go ahead and do it.

I sign.

Urgh, I wish I'd known details of how this goes down before having to experience it.

Alone.

Fear.

The nurse enters and gives me insight on the series of events that will take place before I leave the room we're in and how I'll wake up in the same room.

I've never been put to sleep before.

I give her Manchilds # and Moms # to call, once it's done or if anything happens.

Fear.

All I can think about is people who have been put to sleep but didn't wake up. I've never been put to sleep before.

I focus on my inhales and my exhales, meditating to the best of my ability, bringing myself to a place of zen, god, Jesus and the gods and goddesses. Breath, yoga and meditation kept me from losing my mind in a situation that was brand new to me. During this moment I had faith in everything I've ever learned, discovered and believed in.

The nurse entered to put some blah blah blah into the bag to do this that and the other thing.

"The room is ready." I inhale. I exhale.

We're going to go ahead and wheel you in there now."

They wheel me in to what seemed to be a much larger room pristine room. To me it looked very futuristic, only because I'd never seen anything like it. Up to this point I'd never paid much attention to the set design of medical TV shows. Re-runs of M*A*S*H. doesn't count and I didn't start watching Nurse Jackie until I was recovering.

"Mr. Crump, do you think you have enough strength to scoot over onto this?"

Of course I can. I use my arms and hyper awareness of movement to show off and gracefully drag myself over to the. That's all I remember.

The Surgical Story by Reginald Crump

The Dr. enters.

Puts on his Latex gloves.

Grabs gauze and begins to squeeze Mount Rushmore until it erupts.

Puss goes everywhere!

All over the Dr., my mom, the office door and all of the equipment and bed.

He stands up to grab a towel and slips on the now slippery floor covered in puss and bangs his head against the sink counter and scale.

Well not really, I'm exaggerating, but isn't it fun to imagine that?

The relief from having him squeezing the puss out of what is now a horrific boil was so satisfying. In my mind I was like "ah, yes, thank you, that's all I needed. Have a good rest of the day, (smiley face)!"

Not so much.

As if reciting from the medical manual he repeated "normally I'd insert a needle and withdraw the fluid, but the skin is so badly infected I risk inserting infection deeper into the joint. I'm gonna send you next door to ER and get their opinion."

4th ER visit?

Ok.

I guess.

This is getting way to dramatic, even for my taste.

He wraps it up, my mom wheels me out, grabs my father and we begin the journey out of the building and into ER next door.

We wait a little longer this time and finally my name is called.

I'm rolled into the back and the same Dr I'd seen the day before recognizes me, "I remember you! How's that knee doing?"

I remove the bandage and the look in her face was... "oh! Urgh!" "We"re gonna go ahead and admit you, can you make your way up onto the bed?"

Almost instantly I have IV's and bags are being filled.

"This is morphine to help with the pain and prepare for surgery tomorrow. We'll  go in and clean that up for you."

I guess I'm spending the night.

Everyone assures I'm going to be ok. My mom leaves because by now it's time for my fathers medication and lunch time is approaching. I'll be speaking on the phone with her later in the evening. Because of the distance to drive and the retiring sun, I didn't expect to see her anymore that day.

I get moved into a room. A very nice room, with a view of the parking lot (which I can't see because I'm hooked to IV's). It's also equipped with a lifesaving TV and remote.

More HGTV.

Cell phone plugged in and by my side I made several calls that night. It was all I could do until I could Fall asleep for a good nights rest.

Not so much.

This was my first time being hospitalized, so I did t know that getting your vitals checked happens all through the night. By different shifts of people. This is also when I finally began to understand 1 to 10 level of pain.

In the emergency room the day before I was asked what my level of pain was from 1 to 10 I said "I have a very high tolerance for pain, I was bullied as a child" and laughed it off.

Everyone I talked to on the phone wanted to know what time I was to have surgery. I'd been told first thing in the morning around 7 or 8am.

Next morning.

It's Christmas Eve.

It's now 8:45 and I'm not in surgery. I call Manchild, I call home to my parents, I call my sister. I start going through the list of closest friends, but not wanting to alarm anyone.

Time passes, it's approaching afternoon. I go through my series of phone calls in the same order. Everyone has the same question, "what time are you going into surgery?"

I realize that the questions are starting to wear on my nerves, which is probably sending my blood pressure up. I appreciate everyones concern and realize that they don't know that everyone is asking the same questions, wanting answers and I can only tell them so much. I try to focus on my breath in hopes to hide that I have zero nerves left.

"The last time I was told the time of surgery was she said it would be this afternoon."

More time passes.

I'm chilling.

Still no surgery.

3:30 approaches.

Before I could call anyone, I had two younger gentleman at the foot of my bed asking me my full name, date of birth and giving me the run down of what was about to happen and "sign this paper work."

The Surgical Story by Reginald Crump

I laid on the bed for what seemed like forever until the Dr. came in to tell me what they'd discovered.

With a straight face the Dr. entered and told me what they’re diagnosis was, "it's crucial that I show up for the appointment with the Orthopedic Surgeon scheduled for tomorrow!"

"He'll determine how to move forward."

Without skipping a beat he followed that with,

"you have to understand that if this is not taken care of you could lose your leg."

I sat there with my mouth agape, for what seemed like an hour.

30

seconds

is

a

long

time

to

sit

staring

at

the

Dr.

with

your

mouth

open

in

disbelief,

waiting

for

him

to

crack

a

smile,

chuckle

and say,

"just kidding!"

"Are you serious?" I thought he was fucking with me because I'd been full of humor from the moment I arrived.

He was not joking and now, there I was alone in the cold room. I gathered my belongings the best I could, on one leg, grabbed my cane and hobbled back out to the waiting area. I called my mom to come pick me up. Then my phone rang, it was Manchild.

 "So what's going on, how are you feeling?" he asked.

I sat alone in the empty ER waiting area.

I responded, "I just want my mama and daddy to be here to pick me up."

I burst into tears.