Each day I learn that what I thought was alertness of mind were mere glimpses. For the past four days are sketchy. Full of holes I cannot fill.
I remember them taking me back to get me ready. Then the anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself. Seems a bit odd that this person you meet for perhaps five minutes is going to hold your very life in his hand.
I feared he would ask the one thing I found odd on the intake papers I filled out at home. And of course he did.
“So you have lost time?”
He is looking at me, and I think: How to explain something I don’t really understand myself? I say yes, I do from time to time. It has been going on since childhood. I am accustomed to it.
He is still looking at me, waiting for more. I feel compelled by his stare to give him something of consequence to put on his chart. “I sometimes dissociate,” I said.
I know people don’t understand. I don’t understand. I just know that my brain lifts me up from the fray from time to time and suspends me in mid-air until I can take things in. (More here.)
But why, why would they ask this on a medical form? I’ve filled out many, and this was the first time it was even hinted of. I felt as though I was giving them too much of myself. Why would they need to know this?
They wheel me into a very cold room and cover me with warm blankets. You feel the sting of antibiotics flow into your arm. Then he puts an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth.
He tells me to take four or five deep breaths of the oxygen. I watch the nurses moving around in preparation.
Then suddenly it is all gone. Blackness takes over before I even have a chance to see it coming.
Next, in what seems the blink of an eye, but was an hour and a half, I am in recovery and begging for ice chips. The nurse, Kay tells me, says I must slow down. But my throat hurts from the apparatus that went down my throat, and I am so thirsty.
It is vague putting on my clothes and being wheeled out to my car. I remember using my arm to hoist myself up into the SUV seat. I am suddenly fully awake and full of chatter.
In and out, in and out, goes my memory of this day. I seem completely lucid at one moment, vague and uncertain the next.
We are home and I shift myself up into my bed, where the dogs immediately surround me.
When you go into surgery, you think about possibly dying. What if something happens and I don’t wake up? you ask yourself.
The strongest of soldiers will fall along the way, lost to the war that is life. We can wonder why this one and not that one. But that will be an answer we’ll never have, so why ask it at all?