Worst Part of Surgery Recovery? Daytime TV.

By BOB WIRE

I’m bed-bound for two weeks, flat on my back after spinal fusion surgery. The good news is that the chronic back pain is gone. Bad news? My dream of an Olympic gymnastics gold medal is dead. Phooey.

I do get out of bed every couple of hours to shuffle around the house with my walker and make a low pass by the bathroom. I wear a back brace whenever I’m up.

You should see this thing: It works on the same principle as rolling up a dead body in a carpet, but is more adjustable. It keeps me from twisting, turning, bending, leaning, and stretching in any direction. This must be what it feels like to be Ozzy Osborne.

Our bedroom has been converted into Command Central. The bed is surrounded by TV trays and a rolling computer platform. I have the bedroom TV, my Kindle, my Macbook, my iPod, and my cell, not to mention stacks of unread novels and magazines and newspapers. Thus far, boredom is not an issue.

Barb has been taking great care of me, but she is concerned about the amount of TV I’ve been watching. It’s practically nil, and she says that’s not enough.

I rarely have the set on, mostly because of what happened while I was in the hospital for several days after the surgery. Every time she came into my room, Barb said, I was asleep and the TV was on. It was always on channel 8, the “What’s On TV” channel. I was in a constant state of trying to find something worth watching.

I don’t know if this was a special hospital feed coming into my little TV in Room 13, but it all seemed aimed at patients who were, uh, on their way to the Big Checkout Desk.

Ads were all for reverse mortgages, living will preparation, Medicare-funded scooters (“have you become a burden to your loved ones?”), and funeral insurance. Not a peep from Poli-Grip, Metamucil, or the Jitterbug phone. No Joe Theisman hawking boner pills, just a pensive Henry Winkler telling an old couple not to leave a big legal hassle for their heirs. This was channel 99, baby. It’s all about signing off.

The programs themselves should have been a clue: Golden Girls. Barney Miller (Abe Vigoda looked ancient even back then). Murder, She Wrote (in this case they should have called it Congestive Heart Failure She Wrote). Andy Griffith.

Bob Wire models the latest look in surgical stockings.

These are the lovely compression stockings I get to wear for several weeks to prevent blood clots. Good thing I have dynamitelegs.

Now, just hold on there a minute, son. Andy Griffith has some major analgesic appeal that transcends generations and values. Barney Fife should be in a time capsule somewhere. As my friend Jims told me, Andy Griffith is morphine for the mind. I watched three episodes before I drifted off one afternoon, but when I woke up the screen was back on channel 8. Hmm. Creepy. Maybe this only happened in Room 13.

Scrolling through the listings on channel 8 was an exercise in frustration, shock and disgust. Daytime reality TV is even more bizarre and sickening than the prime time stuff. It also leads me to believe that there has never been a reality show pitch that’s been turned down. The titles alone were enough to make my innards shiver and my scalp jump like a cricket on a hot plate. (Although maybe that was from the Dilaudid pumping through my veins.)

Toddlers and Tiaras. 40 Naughtiest Nasty Celebrity Scandals. Teen Mom: Temper Tantrums. Animal Cops: Houston. (This one seemed ambiguous. Are we talking about redneck sheriffs handing out speeding tickets, or is it a bunch of spider monkeys running a sting operation on a meth lab?)

Biggest Hillbilly Bloopers 3. (I wasn’t sure I could follow that one, not having seen the first two.) The Gilmore Girls (one bathroom, three vaginas). The People’s Court (this seemed to lack the depth and gravitas of Judge Judy).

Here’s one that gave me serious pause: Pit Bulls and Parolees. I am not kidding. Apparently they’ve closed the gap between pitch and title. This trend towards antagonizing juxtapositions could really take reality shows in a dark direction. How long before we see Meet Captain Morgan, Charlie Sheen’s AA Sponsor? Or Little League Team and Coach Pederast?

The high point of my hospital TV experience came early on, when I first turned on the set and it was emitting some horrible white noise. I asked the nurse to call a maintenance guy to come fix it, and in the meantime I found an episode of Celebrity All-Star Chef Cook-Off Audition Showdown War. They were preparing brook trout. I screwed my earbuds into my skull and dialed up some Thelonious Monk on my iPod. Serenity now!

So as I work my way back to being a productive member of society, and less of a burden on my loved ones, I don’t think TV will be playing much of a role. But that’s only because the summer Olympics aren’t on to tantalize my shattered dream.

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   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blogarchive.

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Bob Wire is medicated and ready to rock.

Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.