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This can’t be real but it’s happening anyway…?

Last week I missed my Tuesday @ 3 posting.

A friend told me, “As you go into the operating room, don’t look at the ceiling because it’s like you’re underneath a giant spider. The legs come down when they do robotic surgery. The doctor isn’t even in the same room.”

This can’t be real but it’s happening anyway?

Then he said “You’ve got to be ready to block it out. Before you go in, give yourself a question to think about and then think about working on solving it all the way through your time in the hospital even through the anesthesia. You will be an unreliable narrator and your answer might make no sense, but you’ve got to be ready to block it all out.”

The operating room doors opened and they pushed my bed to the center of the room. Several nurses were setting up under very bright lights but they had their backs to me. The second hand took baby steps on a wall clock until the minute hand hit exactly 6:45 am.

I didn’t look at the ceiling.

My thoughts turned to my eighth-grade hockey team’s first victory. We were joyously riding back in a school bus in full celebration. The coach was in a separate car and the bus driver had lost all authority on the bus.

There was a ruckus in the back. I turned to see one of the boys secretively drop his pants and moon the late afternoon traffic. I realized that his audience was not the following traffic. It was the boys on the bus.

I was unprepared. I had no question to work on as the anesthesia dripped through tubes into my arm.

Moments later, I blinked into consciousness and I saw my doctor, not the surgeon, saying to me, “you probably won’t remember this, but I came by to let you know they got all of it and it hadn’t spread.”

As I fell back to sleep, l focused on the jukebox in the basement bar I worked in during college. One night, I discovered that from behind the bar I could control the volume of the music and the dimmer for the lights. And that if I made strong drinks, turned down the lights and turned up the music, all that was missing was a high wire act.

Around 2 o’clock the following morning, I woke up and tried to roll over but I was unable to move. I was lost in a tangle of catheters and drainage systems with little bags hanging from a carriage on wheels. I could not move. I had become claustrophobic.

The night nurse reassured me that she also suffers from claustrophobia. She told me it would be good if she helped me out of bed, and I walked up and down the well-lit hall, slowly pushing the carriage holding the dripping bags that flowed into me.

I did laps and more laps, past night nurses who drifted in and out of rooms as they gathered blood pressure statistics and temperatures and returned to their computers like bees to their hive.

I read the patient thank you notes posted on the walls and looked at the list of this month’s birthdays, all in the gentle murmur of motion past midnight.

Everyone left me alone to work out my demons by myself, and I recognized we live in an ever-changing atmosphere our whole life.

Finally, I returned to bed to realize that over the last half an hour while I was walking, my gown had been lifted and snagged to expose my bare bottom to the world and I wondered… is this connected? And then I broke out laughing — fresh beautiful laugher — just because I knew I was alive.