U Can’t Touch That

AnatomicalGuyWarning: the following post contains subject matter that may be disturbing to some viewers. Even I squirm a little just thinking about it.

Only what bothered me wasn’t watching a surgical incision being made inches away. Or seeing a doctor insert large, pokey, stainless steel objects into another person’s abdomen. Or even the blood.

No, I squirm at the thought of having my belly button touched. But let’s all emit a sigh of relief that’s not what this is about. I’ll need professional help to deal with my belly button issues.

The reason I brought up belly buttons in the first place is that’s where a lot of minimally invasive surgery begins, in fact, it’s often referred to as “belly-button surgery.” And I was invited to observe such an operation a while back when writing on the subject for UTSouthwestern Medical Center.

My one disappointment was that I didn’t get to reenact the opening titles from the old tv series, Ben Casey, with lots of scrubbing and donning of scrubs. But that in itself reveals one of the key advantages of minimally invasive surgery: the incision is so small that risk of infection is greatly reduced.

The surgery itself goes something like this:

  • Make tiny incision.
  • Insert rubber stopper thingy similar to those used to pump air out of wine bottles.
  • Thread in tubes that will be conduits for an endoscopic camera and specially designed, collapsible, remote control surgical instruments.
  • Pump in carbon dioxide gas to inflate the abdominal area.
  • View progress on a tv monitor suspended over the operating table (does not get cable or reruns of Ben Casey).
  • Start cuttin’.

And even though, should I ever need such surgery, they’ll have to sedate me just to talk about my you-know-what, experiences like this represent to me one of the joys of being a writer. Going behind the scenes, like inside an operating room, to witness things other people don’t get to see. Okay, don’t want to see.

The writing itself is icing on the cake. I had a little fun with the project, an ad concept you can see here. And maybe there’s a little tip for you in all this, a bit of encouragement if you sometimes find writing difficult. In other words, you can have fun with it, even if it’s something you’re a bit touchy about.