Chapter 3: Here’s the Boxer

That’s what the doctor said when I came in to get my cast checked a few days later. It was a pretty simple, in-and-out procedure. We sat in the hallway outside the Orthopedist’s office with a whole lot of people- it seems people like to bring their whole families to the e.r. on Sundays for, I don’t know what. Picnics?- until beautiful B got impatient and barged into the room with me in tow. This is standard operating procedure for every line in Turkey, by the way. To wait is deadly. You must shove your way to the front.

“Here’s the boxer,” the doctor said to his assistant. His assistant looked me up and down and nodded. The doctor examined my cast, scolded me b/c there was a crack in it, slapped some more plaster on it, and sent me home.

That evening was a hard one. That’s when the fear set in. I paced around the apartment like an old dog who’s afraid to lie down lest his heart stop. I picked things up and put them down again. I twirled my hair around my fingers. I stared into space. I couldn’t get interested in teevee or books. I felt unaccountably nervous. I lay down. I stood up. I sat down. I stood up. I looked in the fridge. I sat down again. I got up and went to the store and looked at all the food in it, carefully, thinking I should eat something, but I came home empty handed. I startled easily- a strange noise, a shadow on the wall. That night I couldn’t sleep.

So the week went.

On Thursday I went back to the hospital, this time with my boss AG. I was anticipating an easy visit- I knew my hand wasn’t set properly. It’s been years since I broke a bone, but I just knew it wasn’t a healing kind of pain I was in, but i figured since I knew where the Orthopedist Office was, and how to barge in, I didn’t really need anyone, and that the visit would be painful but short. Boy was I wrong. Thank you, AG. I would still be in the hospital looking blankly at a sheet of printed-out barcodes, feebly enquiring “Bu ne?” to any passing person if you hadn’t been there.

It took us visits to three desks to get me into the x-ray room. Then a visit to the doctor, where AG barged into the room ahead of me and tattled, “She’s been using her hand too much, even though I told her not to.” The doctor looked at my x-ray and agreed, and calmly patted the examining table. I hopped up like a good little lamb to slaughter. They cut my cast off and- WITHOUT GIVING ME ANY PAIN MEDS (not that I’m still angry)- broke whatever healing had been done and played around with my bones until they figured they were set right. This is, btw, the kind of behavior that would constitute a war crime if we were in war time.

“You were bad and used your hand,” he said pleasantly while his assistant wrapped fresh plaster around my paw. “This is your punishment.”  He looked down at me thoughtfully, and asked (through AG) when I’d last had anything to eat or drink.

“Four,” I said. “Cake at four.” He nodded, and then went back to answering the questions AG was peppering him with. A moment later I said, “Um, why did he ask that?”

“You may need operasyon,” the doctor said.


So back to the three desks, back for x-rays. I should mention here that while every x-ray I’ve had in the states they’ve taken safety precautions- draped me with lead aprons, confirmed that I’m not pregnant- in Turkey they just show you where to stand and zap you. I had three x-rays that night total. I’m surprised, frankly, that I haven’t acquired superpowers. He took the fresh x-rays up to his professor, and they both came down a half hour later.

‘So it’s not an operation,” AG whispered as we watched them approach. “They wouldn’t be so smiley if it was an operation.” He stood up and the three of them talked for a few minutes while I looked around and wiggled my foot and examined a chip in my nail polish. (I cannot tell you how disorienting it is to be in the hospital and have no idea what’s going on.)

“Okay,” AG said finally, “You need an operation.”



Dear Marc, 

Is no problem. Quick note though before double dose pain meds kick in and render me wudhfn jduwjj666o9jw3… what? sorry. Quick note before third double dose of pain meds totes destroys what’s left of brain:

At the hospital Yesterday, at one point we had to pay a visit to the florr where I’ll be recovering from surgery. And they had an intake form like they do at any doctor’s office- about ten pages long. The nurse didn’t speak English, but I’d brought a Turk to translate. Through him, she sasked me the first, like four questions. Do you have any allergies. Do you have a history of heart conditions. Have ypou had surgery lately. (God. my typing SUCKs)  Then she got impatient and said, “Okay. I’ll do the rest.” 
So she filled out my medical history with minimal input from me. 
This has been typical of my pre-surgery experience. 
I go in on Monday, and I’d like to talk to you one last time before I do.

I wish I were a better writer so I could truly make you feel the utter bewilderment I felt that night, and how utterly helpless I felt. No one spoke English, and AG was being really good about translating, but the whole sequence of events didn’t make sense to me. “Where are we going now? Why?” I said again and again. “What did she say? What are we doing now? Why?” The endless circling of desks to pick up more barcodes and stamps, sign papers, get prescriptions, take blood, get a shot of morphine (3 hours too late not that I’m still mad) in the butt, go upstairs, go downstairs, sign some more papers, deliver a vial of my own blood to a different building, take a break for tea and börek, get more papers, get more barcodes, get more stamps, get my medical history (sort of) taken down… and the whole time AG being such a trooper, and asking all the questions and making sure everything was done as correctly as possible in a Turkish hospital, and me with no input, no agency, no clue what was going on. We were there for five and a half hours but in the end I was so tired and disoriented that if you’d told me I’d been in there for a day and a half I would have believed you. Even indefatigable AG was showing signs of wear shortly after midnight when we finally left, and had to find an emergency, all-night pharmacy. Because why would a hospital have a pharmacy?

Anyway, on Monday I go in.

Wish me luck.

I think I need it.



Filed under Turkish Culture

2 responses to “Chapter 3: Here’s the Boxer

  1. Holy shit. Just did some back reading.

    Good luck.

    It’s a shame you didn’t punch that guy in the nuts. They were probably softer.

  2. Good Freakin’ Grief!

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