I never imagined watching your nearly teenage son do drugs for the first time could be so much fun.
Technically the first time he was drugged was when he was about 2, but that really doesn’t count because he didn’t really have much to say.
Before anyone out there calls DHR or tries to strap my son Ulysses and me to a chair to watch “Reefer Madness,” he was doing completely legal drugs for a minor foot surgery that will enable him to continue his steady climb to an amazing career in some sort of professional sport either as a player, manager, mascot or beloved commentator. (His plans, not mine.)
Ulysses has had a bone spur on his right foot for a while and it was time for that painful thing to come off. He and I have been to several consultations with his doctor, Adam Handwerger, over the past few months. I’m going to say right here Dr. Handwerger started the silliness. He’s clearly a great doctor, but if he ever gets tired of that he might have a promising career as a stand-up comic.
The humor helped eased Ulysses’ trepidations about being put under general anesthesia — especially when Handwerger said, “I’ll go ahead and do the sex change for you while you’re out.” My son laughed at that joke for weeks.
But he was still nervous about the anesthesia as the operation approached. I think he thought the doctor and I were going to shave his head or draw a mustache on him. That morning we checked in at 5:30, and I was still so sleepy they could have operated on me without anesthesia. As we got ready, his anesthesiologist came in and started discussing whether or not Ulysses would be put under via IV or breathed-in anesthesia. I could tell the idea of a needle in his arm wasn’t exciting, but the doctor did a good job of explaining why the IV was a better way to go. At the end of it Ulysses made his decision.
“I’ll take the HIV,” he said confidently.
I started laughing and the doctor did a double take, then assured him that wasn’t part of the plan. They probably hear a lot more about HIV than IVs, so it’s an easy mistake.
While Ulysses has been anxious to get the bone spur removed, one of the things he’s been most looking forward to about having surgery is going to Winn-Dixie afterwards and driving one of the carts reserved for people who are handicapped or otherwise unable to walk through the aisles. So as they got ready to wheel him back to surgery, he was eliciting promises from me that we’d head to the grocery store as soon as possible after surgery. “Um, yeah, sounds like a ball.”
Things went well and within an hour I was in the post-op area with him, and man, was the kid loopy. His foot hurt so the nurse gave him some pain killer through the ol’ “HIV” and in a minute or two it reminded me of talking to a freshman girl after her first big college night of serious boozing.
First he just started saying, “Eminem. Eminem. Eminem,” referring to the rapper. I’d say, “What about Eminem?” He’d reply, “He’s a rapper.” “Yes, I know, but what about him?” “Eminem.” “What?” “He’s a rapper. Eminem.” It didn’t take long to realize this Abbot and Costello routine was going nowhere.
He suddenly changed gears and launched into a detailed plan for how the Dallas Cowboys could keep star receiver Dez Bryant as well as former running back Demarco Murray. Bryant signed a contract with the Cowboys two weeks ago and Murray now plays in Philadelphia, two facts that escaped someone who generally knows every single move made in the NFL. Apparently his brilliant plan to keep both players was something I was supposed to keep close to the vest, though, especially from members of the postal service.
“That’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone. Not even the mailman,” he said after laying it all out. “Unless you see [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones. You can tell him.”
I explained Murray was gone and playing for the arch-rival Eagles.
“He’s playing for the Eagles?! The Eagles suck!” he yelled, then started looking like he might cry. But he quickly had bigger concerns.
“Hey, he didn’t give me a sex change, did he? Because I really didn’t want one,” Ulysses said, repeating it several times. I told him I was pretty sure that didn’t happen and that Handwerger was joking.
Then he asked what happened to his foot. I told him they cut it off. He started to sob, so I quickly assured him I was joking and his foot was still there. I’ll admit it was bad parenting, but it was funny.
At some point he also asked, “Do you know that girl Ursula?” I told him I am familiar with her since she is his sister. Confusion. Then the beeping of another patient’s heart monitor caught his ear.
“That’s a cool beat,” he said. Suddenly he was trying to rap to a heart monitor. Eminem would have been so proud.
The fun had to end eventually, and I loaded him up to head home where I spent a good part of the day giving him piggy-back rides around the house and upstairs to his room. By late afternoon, though, he was ready to make his dream come true.
I figured we’d get to Winn-Dixie and all the scooters would have been taken by the legitimately needy or the overly full-figured, but much to his joy there were plenty available. A cop eyeballed us at first, but we passed muster and I was able to give my son his first driving lesson inside a grocery story.
Luckily he didn’t hit anyone or knock over a display of pork-n-beans because, given his condition just a few hours earlier, I’m not so sure he should’ve been behind the wheel (well, actually, handlebars).
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