It has finally arrived, this particular morning, of the proscribed day, 63 years 359 days in the making. The air of disbelief hangs over me, coloring my perceptions. Although I am outwardly calm my mind races in a dozen different directions at the same time. I had promised myself I would pay attention, mark each thought, sight and sound to be recalled again and again to be retold the rest of my days. The trouble with promises made without understanding is the disappointment when you can’t live up to them.
What do I remember? well I remember most of what happened, I’m just having trouble putting it all on a timeline. I have written several pieces about how I envisioned everything happening, the reality was completely different. Of course the drugs they gave me at the beginning of the day had something to do with it.
I remember meeting with Dr. Brassard that morning and in a conversation that ranks at the very top of my lifetime list of surreal conversations, having my gentiles examined and discussed. It seems that there was some concern about “The Shrinkage” (A Seinfeld Reference) A natural effect of cold water or four years of estrogen. I hear him say,”We may have to take a skin graft if the tissue won’t stretch enough.” I told him,”I trust you, you know how I want this to come out.” I signed the consent form without a moments hesitation.
Returning to my room to await the ride to the operating room, I concentrated on breathing. The delivery of the first dose of sedatives made that a whole lot easier and being first on the surgical schedule was most definitely a blessing.
I had it all worked out in my mind, how I would be lying on the gurney watching the lights over head countdown as they rolled me to the operating room. In the end the reality was slightly less dramatic. A male nurse walked into my room announced that his name was Richard, how weird was that, and said,”follow me” So in a departure from the narrative I had envisioned, I got up and walked to the operating room where I was told to sit on the operating table. Once the IV was in my hand things got somewhat fuzzy, who am I kidding, I was there but I wasn’t. I remember that the room was bright, really bright. I remember the spinal vaguely, it was uncomfortable I think and then there was nothing.
The next thing I remember is “Rachel open your eyes” I looked to the side and saw someone else recovering from surgery, then “Rachel can you move your toes” then sinking back into the black for a little while longer, slowly rises up from deep under water I felt the darkness was so comfortable so peaceful, I think I could have just stayed there. Then “Rachel open your eyes, move your toes”, it was obvious they had no intention of allowing me to remain wrapped in that comfortable nothingness. Then the ride back to my room, being lifted gently into my bed, a moment to look down. Can I tell, what do I see? The truth is buried under six inches of gauze and piles of ice packs. The feeling in my legs takes hours to come back, I surface for a few minutes try to wiggle my toes then submerge again for a little while longer.
I remember thinking , that’s it? considering the amount of time and anxiety I had invested in this over the years this seems almost anticlimactic. The pain wasn’t anywhere near what I had expected, in fact I didn’t have anything stronger than Tylenol for the the first two days after the surgery. The remainder of my three days in the hospital are a series of walks followed by naps,drinking lots of water a little bit of food periodic visits by nurses, more naps another walk and on and on.
On the third day, I heard,”pack your stuff you’re outa here.”What about breakfast? You’ll get that at the recovery center. So into a wheelchair with my trusty rubber doughnut and 100 bumpy, painful yards later I’m at the recovery center where I was to spend the next seven days. It’s there I will learn about my new anatomy, how to take care of it and the adventure that is now taking a pee.
To be continued.