Saralee Perel

Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at 

Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on

Surgery, Stunts & Chutzpah

"Your husband's in the next bay wearing breasts," the nurse said as she hurried by me in the pre-op area of the hospital.

Yes, Bob was fully endowed as he waited for arthroscopic shoulder surgery last week.

Dr. Timothy Kinkead, his orthopedic surgeon, has a warped sense of humor, too. He ordered Bob an HCG, which I later found out is a pregnancy test.

The staff became comedians. "Oooh," one gal said, admiring Bob's accouterments, which looked remarkably real and were pointedly anatomically correct, if you get my drift. "Are those up for grabs?"

A few years ago, Kinkead operated on Bob's knee. When he lifted Bob's gown, his expression was of a man looking at someone with three legs. And, in fact, that was essentially true.

Bob had bought a very authentic-looking leg at a joke shop. The staff helped him dress and position it. When Dr. K. saw Bob's three legs, he went blank and sat motionless for an inordinate amount of time. When reality hit, he cracked up and took pictures.

My husband is 61 years old, by the way.

The leg was designed to appear chopped off with a hatchet. Thinking it might not be in the best of taste to carry a bloody leg into the hospital, we brought it in a long case. But when Bob was wheeled to surgery, I couldn't find that case.

Carrying the bloody leg, I raced through the pre-op bays, then through the waiting area filled with family members, who looked up from their magazines.

Then I ran through the parking lot, drawing stares from passers-by as I panicked and yelled, "It's not what it looks like." But that sounded insane so I called out, "Well it is a leg." People kept staring so I shouted like a lunatic, "But it's not my husband's leg!"

I threw it in our car. I'm sure that a hemorrhaging leg was a lovely sight to anyone who glanced in our windows.

The fake bosoms that Bob wore for last week's surgery were just the tips of the iceberg, so to speak.

Bob's name was on the curtain in the bay where he was supposedly waiting. But he wasn't there. He was in the next bay, talking with an anesthesiologist who asked, "How are you doing?"

"Better than that guy next door." When the doctor opened the curtain, he looked like he had seen a ghost, which wasn't all that far from the truth.

Then the staff gathered around, waiting for Kinkead to arrive.

I think all of Hyannis could have heard him laughing when he looked behind that curtain, because sitting upright in the chair and wearing a hospital gown was a life-sized mummified skeleton.

One staff comedian quipped, "Looks like you kept your patient waiting too long."

Later, in the recovery area, Bob was groggy and still wearing those ridiculous things on his chest. But they were on the outside of his gown. I grabbed them and stuck them in the only thing I could find, which was a clear plastic bag. Then I put them on the floor.

I couldn't imagine anything more bizarre-looking than body parts in a bag on the floor of a post-surgery unit. So clutching them to my own chest, a photo of which could have made it into "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" I made yet another mad dash through the waiting room, the parking lot and then to our car, where I tossed them on the front seat. A charming display.

That night, my friends asked, "How did you pull it off?"

"We carried everything in a large bag. When a nurse asked, 'Is there anything you need?' Bob took the bones out and said, 'An extra hospital gown, please.'" The staff members were such good sports.

At, it states that its central theme is to "provide the best medical care possible" and to "listen and respond to patient needs." Kinkead, a Yale graduate, has more than medical expertise. He has heart, humor and compassion. I don't think those things can be taught.

And so, if Kinkead does your arm surgery, call Bob. He could probably lend you a hand — literally.