Having survived crispy critterdom less about 40% of his hide, Uncle Al was prepared to blend into hospital routine while he regenerated. He was ready to sop up exorbitant amounts of pharmaceutical joy, avoid discussing politics with the nurses, and grimly survive each day's Hydrotherapy. On Sunday, he rested. On Monday, they raised the ante!

Monday morning dawned, and with it more prettily colored pills, breakfast, more IV fluids, more morphine, and another trip to Hydrotherapy. They scraped, I screamed, and it was eventually over. Time to freeze and recover. But noooooo! Not on Monday! Monday was mini-rounds, and the doctors and their faithful entourage of nurses, therapists, specialists, orderlies, and insurance adjusters could not see through mesh, gauze and cream. On Mondays all my raw, freshly scraped tissue, square feet of it, was packaged in Saran wrap so that it could be viewed. It was bundled in Saran Wrap so that it could be viewed about two hours later. Time goes so slowly when you are drowning in misery.

I held up my paws, sitting shivering by my bedside, and looked at those meaty appendages screaming red, screaming pain, and slowly dripping pale yellow tissue juice. I was scraped at ten and sat until two that afternoon, and had I been able to open my mouth around burned lips I would have castrated the attending physician with my teeth, and swallowed. I was awash in pools of my own fluids when they finally unwrapped me and covered that afflicted flesh with dressings. I was now well primed for my afternoon surprise.

Growing back major portions of anatomy requires insanely large quantities of nutrients. Being short a few square feet of skin engenders a massive loss of body heat, tremendous numbers of calories floating into the room as tissue madly metabolizes, trying to keep the thermostat up. The ordinary person gets by on perhaps 2000 Calories each day. I was scheduled for 7000 Calories each day, or more. They were going to help me.

The scariest thing to encounter within the white-shod world of medicine is an obese 60 year old nurse with flat feet, a bad attitude, and a nasogastric tube with your name on it. They were going to thread a pipe down my nose, down the back of my throat to my stomach and pump, pump mind you, gallons of rich, creamy Traumacal into my poor being 24 hours a day. The first priority was to thread that weighted hose through my face, no mean feat in light of a nose well smashed during high school football.

Contrary to medical opinion, a patent absolutely sloshed on morphine and diazepine tranquilizers can indeed work up sufficient rage to vociferously complain, bellow actually, about the sound and feeling of cancellous bone being crushed inside his skull as a bored nurse thrashes a lead-weighted truncheon about the insides his sinuses. She knew there was an exit to my throat back there somewhere, it was in the anatomy books. If she could not find it, she would make a new one, a better one, a medically approved one. The second try did it. They x-rayed my remains to verify that the end of the hose was not someplace that would engender more paperwork, like in my lungs or perforating my esophagus. The first gallon of supplementary nutrition was set to roll. Little did I suspect that this was not to be merely a good deployment of therapy, it was going to be perfect! It would be something for the patient to remember.

All my naked meat was visibly oozing juice, creating a constant concern among the cognoscenti that all the wonderful cations and anions dissolved in specific and unalterable concentrations in a person's blood, the stuff that keeps you alive, were leaking away. They supplemented my creamy, delicious Traumacal (I was also guzzling the stuff with meals - go for the lasagna) so happily oozing into my stomach via my nose, with minerals. This set the stuff up like concrete, clogging that damn nasogastric tube three or four times a day. If they could not get the plug loose, no problem! They just pull conduit out, thread down a new one, and give you another blast of radiation! Then they will pump in more quick-set concrete, and get the thing plugged again.

Shortly before I was discharged, they irreversibly plugged my third nasogastric tube. The attending vocational nurse was just out of school and easily intimidated by my graphic descriptions of physical violence and corporeal mutilation, all of it to be hers if she persisted in installing another damn tube. During the last two days everything that appeared in my stomach made it there via my mouth. Some weeks later, well after my discharge, I bought a round of Godiva chocolates for all concerned. I would have gladly invested the extra effort to have run them through a blender and then up the nose and down the throat of any volunteer. Oddly enough, despite the potential intimacy of the act, I had no takers.

There I lay with a tube down my nose, a tube in my arm, covered with gauze, cream and mesh, with a tree of peristaltic pumps jamming various liquids into my corpus. The recreational possibilities of this adventure were growing more limited by the hour. What the heck, it was not so bad.

It got worse.

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