IV aches in my hand. My mom and I wait. My dad is outside reading his book.
Vivian (30+years as a nurse) and her younger counterpart whose name escapes me now attend beautifully. We wait. Andrea calls. Friends send texts of love and well wishes.
I remove my clothing and dress for the first time in my cotton garments of blue; the gown, the robe, the cap and the pièce de resistance, a blue booty for each foot. We rise to move to the next waiting area. My dad joins us in the march. I practice walking meditation. Stepping, inhale, stepping, stepping, exhale, stepping, stepping. We sit. Bibi is meeting with Trump on the television. We watch the woman sitting across from us. She is ahead of me in line. She is the model for us as she takes selfies with her loved one, meets with the surgeon and heads off with the nurse down the surgery hallway.
After 90 minutes, we meet members of the team, the surgical fellow and the chief resident. I feel fear rise to my throat asking tightly, “But Dr Satkunaratnam will be the one doing the surgery, won’t he? “The surgery requires more than one person.“ The fellow responds kindly before smiling and walking away. My fear wraps itself further around my diaphragm, holding tight as to a stuffie.
We call Andréa to let her know it will be any moment. As we are saying goodbye the anesthetist arrives. He is not the Lebanese man with whom I had the consult. His last name was Shabbath. This is not the same person. I am on the phone awkwardly saying, “I love you too honey. Yes. My mom will call you. Of course. I know you are there…..” He motions for me to hang up. The throat again.
“So you are a singer,” he clarifies. “Yes and Dr. Shabbath assured me that you would take extra precautions with the intubation.” He tells me it will be fine. But I press the issue trying to ensure that what precautions were promised would actually be taken. I feel myself protective as with my own child. “No,” he says, I don’t use a videoscope, I am the head of the department.” I put the cap on my terror just long enough for him to walk away. He is gone and out it bursts like water from a dam up out of the soft container of my diaphragm, through my throat and into the waiting room. I am weeping. My parents are comforting me. The surgeon arrives. I assure him the anxiety is focused on the intubation and that I feel very confidant with the work that he is going to do. He is understanding and compassionate. I am grateful and comforted. When he leaves, I tell my parents I need to sit quietly. I search frantically inside for an anchor. “Ashrei Yoshvei Veytecha,” I say to myself. I am sitting with you. “Yehalelucha”, praising, “Gadol,” expansive, “Hadar”, graceful. “What do you need?” I ask myself seeking a finer focus. And then the words come…”Ein Od,” there is no more, there is no other, all is Divine.
The nurse arrives. I hug and kiss my mom and dad. I love you, they each say. I love you, I reply. I am scared and excited. I feel equipped.
I rise in my magical blue garments. I shuffle down the hallway beside the nurse, the surgical team falling into line behind us. She asks me something. I answer calmly while reciting, “inhalation” for every two steps and “exhalaltion” for the next two. She pauses the entourage to pull two warm blankets out of the heater.
The room is freezing. I am shivering. The table is cold on my back as the anesthetist who is fortunately behind me, out of my sight, takes my left arm out of the gown. I feel the warmth of the blankets. I see the colourful, animated hats of the team, men and women also colourful, black, brown, white. The knot at the back of the gown is stuck. The surgeon offers to help the anesthetist. He walks around the table in front of me noting that he is expert on knots because of his 11 years old son’s boots. I think of my dad and his fine surgeon’s fingers in the cold battling the laces of my little girl skates.
I feel a change in my state of mind. I ask if I have been given the sedation. “Yes.” A mask is put over my mouth. Through the drowsiness, I motion for the mask to be lifted momentarily. I say, “Hey everybody, since I won’t get to see you after, thank you.” I see smiles. I don’t feel alone. The mask is put back on. The anesthetist says something like, “Now you get to go on a great holiday.” This seems ill fitting. I think, Ein Od, all is You. Then I know there is nothing left to do but surrender.
During the surgery they remove the growths that have been causing the extensive menstrual bleeding and cramping. They also discover 10 sites of endometriosis, mostly near my bowls, which they treat and excise.
I awake shaking.
I try to stay awake but am coming in and out, my consciousness drowning.
A nameless male nurse tells me it would be better if I stopped shaking.
I find out the other the nurse’s name, Katia.
I see my mom and dad and I am glad they are here.
I see Dr. Sat. I am grateful and relieved.
Once again, I receive tremendous care. My post-op nurse’s name is Sharon.
She has frizzy hair.
We head home in a taxi to begin healing.