Whee! You know you’ve had too many surgeries when the whole thing starts to seem normal. First, there’s the psychological buildup to it, the mental preparation to keep your mind from spinning out of control imagining worst case scenarios. You know, the ones where you die on the table. The surgeon coming out and giving the “I’m sorry” speech to your loved ones (in my case that would be my wife). I’m an ER nurse so I see some version of this on a regular basis. So that’s the first hurdle.
Then comes the actual day of the surgery itself, with its usual call time of 5:30 am. It seems crazy early, and of course you’ve slept four hours if you’re lucky, but by the time you’ve checked in, stripped down and washed your body with the pre-packaged wipes they’ve given you while naked in a room that feels like it’s 50 degrees, it’s showtime. You change into the gown, and presto, here comes the anesthesiologist to introduce himself and take yet another medication history. Finally the surgeon pops in for a brief, informal chat, and then, as Jackie Gleason used to say, and away we go!
Personally, I like walking into the OR on my own; no fucking gurney needed – as I stroll in I greet everyone there like a visiting dignitarie. The surgeon often introduces each one, like actors in a play. In this way, I am facing my face my fears head on. I’m owning this procedure, goddamnit (of course, all the while I’m thinking “I hope this isn’t the last thing I see”).
Then there’s the somewhat creepy moment when you’re looking into your surgeons face, and then, whammo, the next thing you remember is waking up in the recovery room. This moment should be party time, except you know what kind of pain you’re about to be in as soon as the anesthesia wears off. And oh, my friend, there will be pain.
There’s a reason it’s called trauma. Your body isn’t meant to be cut open and have things removed (or hardware put in, as the case may be).
I now have a total of 13 surgical wounds on my abdomen and lower torso, thank you very much. I wear them proudly, as if they were body modifications I chose to have, which I guess they are. I take great pride in working hard to put myself back together, and, to the best of my ability, I succeed. I mean, I know I’m never the same, but goddamnit, I’m not dead either.
You know what else?
After all’s said and done – I know what I can handle. When the shit hits the fan, I don’t have to wonder how I’m going to react.
So I guess there’s a plus side to everything.