And It Was All Yellow

So there I was: Finally awake, wearing different clothes, no underwear on, lying next to a strange woman, my belly shaved.

Not again, I think.

The strange woman is on the phone with my wife. I should probably pay attention to this. She explains that I’ve just woken up and that my gallbladder removal surgery was a success.

Oh, right.

My complicated relationship with my gallbladder has been well documented in this space. I say it’s complicated, but it boils down to me attacking my gallbladder with delicious foods, and my gallbladder attacking me back with the fury of a thousand angry badgers. We had reached an uneasy truce–a Cold War, of sorts–where I basically ate nothing, and the gallbladder just made me feel generally queasy, and neither of us would use our respective nuclear options of Horrifically Painful Gallbladder Attack or Surgical Removal.

Well, the stupid gallbladder gave me a 10-hour attack of 10/10 pain just for eating some guacamole, so I decided to nuke it into the ground. (I would have failed the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

At first, though, I decided to just gut through it, suffering stoically through the pain. This made me a real man, but then I started turning yellow, which made me a real yellow man. 

Slowly turning into a Simpsons character isn’t necessarily a medical emergency, so I drove my family to Vegas and got on a five-hour airplane flight across the country–the ideal conditions, of course, for suffering constant gallbladder pain. (Editor’s Note: Actually, his wife did most of the driving.)  The pain continued, and I continued to endure it, making me even more manly and even more yellow.

The next morning I became dizzy, making me a very dizzy, manly Man In the Yellow Hat, except instead of his hat it’s his whole body. And then my metaphors started getting weird. That’s when I knew it was Time.

For the hospital.


For those who don’t know, a hospital is where we put unhealthy people who are saddled with crushing debt and subsist entirely off of energy drinks, and then have them take care of everyone else. 

The way they do this is by asking your name and birth date approximately 700,000 times. Note that they don’t ask for your “birthday,” lest it actually be your birthday and you get the wrong impression about their intentions. This is usually accompanied by the very friendly, benign procedure known as “taking your blood,” but not in the sexy vampire way. The hospital way involves them stabbing you repeatedly in your arms and hands, putting tape on your arm hair, shaking their heads and ripping the tape, your hair, and skin off, and then stabbing you again somewhere else. If Edward Cullen had done it like this, Bella absolutely would’ve picked Jacob.

Then they do the same thing, except instead of taking blood, they install what’s called an “IV port.”  This is so they can hook you into an IV machine 24/7, and see if they can run the classic computer game DOOM on you. Ivey — the IV — was really my only true, constant companion. She was with me always, touching the back of my hand, going literally everywhere with me for those five days.

Yes, five days. They wanted to do tests on me first, and then wait for experts to look at the tests, and then wait for the experts to tell other experts about the tests, and then wait to put me on the surgery schedule–all communicated via a medical memo system with the apparent clarity of tin-can-and-string, combined with the rapidity of carrier pigeons.

Meanwhile, my nurses — named Gbemi and Wemi — wouldn’t let me eat or drink just in case somebody did their job and put me on the surgery schedule. One night they had mercy on me and let me eat a cafeteria dinner; then I realized the true mercy was not being allowed to eat anything.

The most interesting test was the MRI. An MRI is where they stick you in a tiny cylinder for 45 minutes and tell you not to move while the machine blares a sequence of loud error noises at you until they find the one that matches the error in your body. (Mine was “WAAAAAAAwhrrrrrrrr.”) They let you listen to music while you do this; I got to listen to alternative rock. The first song to play when they stuck me in the claustrophobia-tube — this is 100% true — was “Soul to Squeeze,” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yes, a song that (a) starts with the lyrics “I got a bad disease / Out from my brain is where I bleed”, (b) has the word “squeeze” in the title while I am jammed into a Pez dispenser, and (c) is by a group literally named after a food that triggers gallbladder attacks. Fortunately my test finished before the playlist got to “Radioactive,” “Hurt,” or “Yellow.”

So I was in “hurry up and wait” mode for a while. Fortunately, I got to spend all my time in a high tech hospital bed that’s more expensive than some cars. The vast majority of the expense comes from the tech that makes the bed constantly inflate and deflate every 5 minutes to jostle you awake, which was originally developed by the military to keep terrorists from sleeping in Guantanamo Bay. They also make sure to cover the bed with friendly-looking buttons that, if accidentally brushed against, will summon 13 nurses and a defibrillator.

So instead of sleeping I got to stay awake and listen to my neighbors’ vocalizations, including such insights as “Help!”, “Somebody help me!,” and “Please, anyone, help!”  Apparently the proscribed nurse response for each of these varied situations was to yell back: “Stop yelling!” 

After four restful days, they finally brought Ivey and I down to the surgical wing and yanked that gallbladder out. 

It’s the end of an era; no more bladding of galls for me. Now I just need to get through recovery, with strict instructions from the surgeon that I can’t swim, drive, or lift anything 10 pounds or heavier. So apparently I’m in the market for a 9-pound car.

But I am a lot less yellow now.

This article first appeared in the Duzett Gazette, the really official newsletter of Carl Duzett. Sign up here to get more content like this in your inbox, as well as some other content that isn’t quite like it, but is probably also good.

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