chapter 6: Post-op Re-entry

Unwritten interim:

  • chapter 4: The Lost Sunday
  • chapter 5: Operation Day

Post-op recovery room is more accurately re-entry room. Yet it’s also like a comedy club, where unfiltered minds let loose.

I remember nothing prior, not the final visit by the anesthesiologist, not the long gurney roll to the operation room with Scooter alongside, not a thing.

Waking up was as vivid as a Fellini movie. I’d been face down on an operating table for four hours. My pale round face was swollen and puffy, Scooter said, like a cotton ball with two terrified eyes staring out, dilated into black dots.

I sense his presence, but he’s somewhere in a netherworld closing in on the bed. The turbulent darkness disgorges hundreds of jeering ferocious faces, riddled with bulging veins coursing lumpy blood. Their bloodshot eyes protrude like jellyfish. Taunts vomit from huge gaping mouths with flabby drooling lips.

“You’re an idiot.” “This is the end.” “This is you now.” “You’re the stupid one.” “You’ll never be, never be again…” And laughter, bitter, sardonic, scornful laughter.

Thanks, ketamine, the anesthesia drug, for opening the door to my subconscious and shoving me in. I’m good at the brave soldier facade. Inside my brain, I am 100% fear laced with deep self-loathing for my predicament.

“Am I dead?” I implore the darkness.
“You’re alive, Amy,” a tearful Scooter replies.
“Are you dead?”
“No, I’m here, right here.”
“Is this real?”
“You’re in post-op. It’s just you and me”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, you are out of the operation. We’re in Baylor.”

Minutes pass as the Fellini faces slowly lurch and collapse, dissolving into turbulent inky waves. I struggle out of the subconscious sea, exhausted. Nurses enter and leave as vague white blobs. I relax into timelessness. One addresses me firmly:

“What is your name?”
“What is your birthday?”

Those I have down. They precede every doctor visit, procedure, medicines, even meals. The questions get harder; I bark answers like a soldier:

“Where are you?”
“Do you know what happened?”
“Who is this next to you?”
“Who is the president?”

Suddenly, there it is: consciousness. A chance to be a smart ass about Donald Trump. I struggle to form the words:

“A motherfucker.”

Long silence.

“I’ll accept that as an answer.”

Within 30 minutes, I am back in my hospital room, ready to start on the long road to home.

To read the whole tale, start with Neck Wreck