I am getting the same nervous feeling I have when I enter a hockey arena, mentally prepping myself and psyching myself up to step on the ice for a game. I have had 5 nervous pees. That’s 4 more than usual, I must admit. And then I wonder how I could possibly compare this to a game, and then I remember that life is like a game: we make decisions and they have certain consequences. Everyone lives by different rules and that satisfies their morals and validates their judgments. But at the end of the day, there is one objective to life, like winning a game in a round-robin tournament: survive.
It’s 6 am on surgery day, and I could feel the chill of the hospital AC running down my spine as I changed into a blue snowflaked gown. I was completely covered but am feeling so exposed. My feet are slipped into the blue disposable slippers and I feel like a smurf, but my hair tucked up in a blue cap.
My mother and sister are sitting in the waiting room as I am provided several different pre-op medications and instructed to wait, in what the nurse called, the “Mount Sinai spa:” recline-able chairs and a heated blanket. I was uncontrollably shivering, my teeth chattering a little, but I wasn’t cold. The woman across from me was very high and I couldn’t help but think she looked like a burrito: rolled up tightly in her white heated blanket. My sister tucked me up like her, cocooned in heat but not warming. I started to feel just like the other patient looked.
I remember signing surgery formalities for blood transfusions and resuscitation. This reminded me that this is in fact a major surgery. I was falling in and out of sleep, my insomnia-related sleep-deprivation catching up with me. I remember my mother and sister hugging and kissing me before I left the room with a cute nurse with a Russian accent. We were heading to the OR, talking about the weather or some other senseless and safe topic, though I must admit I forget our conversation.
I remember the bright white room and counted five people: the anesthesiologist and four nurses, preparing the surgeons tools on a sanitary stainless steel tray, and the anesthesiologist prepping his dosages. I laid on the table as instructed and spread my arms like I was on a crucifix. They strapped me in, hands and feet. I felt like cattle on a butcher hook. My heart was fluttering but my stomach was strong.
I instructed the anesthesiologist to be liberal with the dosage and explained I have a high tolerance for most sedatives. He laughed and said he’d take good care of me.
The nurse gasped when she saw the massive purple and blue bruise on my shoulder. I laughed then, and began telling her beautiful eyes that I was shooting shotguns and machine guns and made my summer happen before my surgery: cramming everything into the month of June so I could sleep through July and August. I encourage you to live it up, because it does help a lot with your post-op mental health.
The last thing I remember before slipping unconscious was the white glow of the operation light over the Russian resident’s operation cap, her bright blue eyes with white flecks, her soft smile, and her kind words of “I’ll be here the entire time, we will see you when you wake.” I felt comforted, and safe.