Roy Exum: I Flunked The Survey

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When I left my pre-surgery appointment in Nashville yesterday and made my way in the Vanderbilt complex for a blood draw, this attractive young woman who has her doctorate in exercise psychology, or whatever they call it, confronted me by name and asked me to take part in a forthcoming survey of people with back surgery. Normally I turn down surveys – I think they are a waste of time – but the girl was pretty and apparently this is important to the National Institute of Health because they are paying a $200 “grant” to each participant.

I was going to have to wait on the lab anyway so I agreed, at which point the PhD flipped out her iPad and went over all these questions about chronic pain, feeling helpless, gloomy results, depression and – for instance -- if I agreed that no matter what happens in next week’s surgery, I feel like I’ll never get well.

Oh, my stars! I have never had a more laughable list of questions posed to me in my entire life. I asked the lady at one point, “Is this a joke?” and wondered on two other occasions if the person who originally wrote the questions did, indeed, need mental help. Every question begged for a negative response and, 15 minutes later when I was called to the lab, my newest PhD friend sadly informed me that I didn’t qualify for the survey. Evidently I am too optimistic!

This time last year I had a synovial cyst removed from my spinal cord. The doctors aren’t sure why these cysts actually occur but I can testify there isn’t a lot of extra room in anybody’s spinal canal. When the cyst pinches off the sciatica nerve, the hip and leg pain is quite impressive and they have to crack your spine open to shave or scrap off the little rascal for lasting relief.

The only thing that is worse than a spinal cyst is when one comes back. Sure enough, right after Christmas a MRI study showed my 2013 model is even bigger than the 2012 original. While I am hardly happy I have now birthed another, I am not going to mope around and wear sack-cloth and ashes. No, you handle the thing and move on.

For someone who has endured more surgeries than the average Joe, I have a singular distaste for the operating room. I am steadied by the fact that if God has allowed this to happen to me, something good will come out of it so let’s go ahead and get the bad part over with. Everybody agrees surgery is the only option but what kind of moron would I be if I allowed myself to have a bad attitude or harbored the negative thoughts the survey questions included.

Whew! Gloom and doom are the last things you need to take to the hospital. Instead I take joke books, fun stuff to read, my laptop computer and a sack of candy to share with the nurses. This isn’t my first rodeo and I have “mental devices” in place to help fight pain, boredom and the hours when escape to puff my cigar is too risky.

I got in bad trouble once at The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota when, as a guest for an extended stay, opened the door real wide one Sunday afternoon when visitors were roaming the halls. Watch ‘em sometimes – they may be going to visit Uncle Fred but they peer into every room they can. So I shut all the drapes, turned only the high-intensity light on over the bed and then lay concrete-still under a crisp sheet with just my feet sticking out.

Of course, everyone who peered into the room was certain I was a corpse and to overhear the hallway conversation was delicious. “Oh dear Lord, Martha .. don’t look in there. Poor thing didn’t make it!” and “Oh, oh, oh … the coroner hasn’t come yet! Look how pale those feet look,.” And, “Don’t let the children breath anything around the door! There is no telling what killed him … “

Well, I think that is a lot more fun than some survey asking if all you want to do is gaze out the window.  “Do you feel like your career is threatened?” “Are you worried that people look at you differently?”  Oh, heavens above –  deliver me from people with a mindset like that. This is just another bump in the road, you know? Let’s forge on.

It doesn’t bother me that I didn’t qualify for the survey and the $200 stipend. My newest PhD friend had said I would have to answer a 30-minute questionnaire a couple of times after surgery when, in fact, the minute surgery is over all I want to do is flee and never have to come back again. Truth be known, this may be the best survey I’ve ever been able to avoid.

The other day I was taking to a friend of mine about next week’s bump-in-the-road and told him that the cyst had come back in less than a year. “So lemme get this straight … You are going back to the same guy? Brother, I think I may have a slant on why you get operated on a lot. If you go back to the same guys, you might consider brain surgery to get to the real root of the problem!”

If that’s what my friends tell me, you think getting booted from a survey is going to cause me to worry? Not hardly. But now you know why I may miss a few days from my daily routine next week and why I feel good about getting the surgery over with and gone.

royexum@aol.com


HCDE Reality Check

The sooner everyone realizes that the sole reason the HCDE exists is to provide jobs to the HCDE administrators, teachers and staff, the sooner citizens can stop getting upset when the HCDE does what is in its own best interest. It's really not a foriegn concept if you think about it.  Most of us get up and go to work out of self-interest, earning a paycheck, not because ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Abolish Bail For Poor

Our terribly overcrowded Hamilton County Jail may get some help from an unsuspected corner – the Obama administration is tackling the fact that right now over 450,000 people are in our country’s jails because they are too poor to pay for bail. It is a violation of the Constitution to “punish people for their poverty.” As the Eighth Amendment provides, “… excessive bail ought not ... (click for more)

2 Juveniles Arrested For Arson In Sevier County Fires

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has resulted in charges being placed against two people in connection with the deadly wildfires in Sevier County.  Last week, at the request of 4 th  District Attorney General ... (click for more)

Shannon Whitfield Already At Work Eliminating Sole Commissioner Post In Walker County; Process To Take 4 Years

Shannon Whitfield is already at work eliminating the position he won by a landslide in the recent election. Mr. Whitfield, who takes over at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1 after a 16-year reign by Bebe Heiskell, noted, however, that it is a four-year process. He said the two House members and local senator are working with him on legislation that must first be approved. That should ... (click for more)

Top-Ranked Bradley Uses Fast Start To Beat Baylor

There’s no question that the Bradley Bears are ranked first in the initial state wrestling poll and they proved they deserve to be in that top spot following a 43-30 victory over the Baylor Red Raiders. Baylor is ranked fourth in that first poll and will surely be a force to be reckoned with in Division II as the season progresses, but the Bears are head and shoulders ahead after ... (click for more)

Run-And-Gun Tyner Shoots Down Red Bank 71-33

Tyner opponents better batten down the hatches if the Rams ever iron out their half-court offensive struggles. Even without that weapon showing up Tuesday night, the Rams showed they have a run-and-gun assault that can bury an opponent under an avalanche of points. And their defense is as tenacious as ever. Tyner outscored Red Bank 15-0 to start the second quarter ... (click for more)