Tuesday, November 13, 2007

14 hours

I have no idea what's going to be happening.

It's 1:00 am, which means that in fourteen hours, I'll be getting in a car and going to the hospital. My doctor is going to try and fit me in, so there's a chance that I'll be sitting in a room or lying on my side in a bed well into the evening. There's a chance that I'll do all that sitting or lying, stomach empty and painkiller-free, only to be told that I have to come back the next day. Or maybe the next. In the world of elective surgery, you take those kind of chances. But with any luck, some time tomorrow I'll be unconscious and breathing with the kind assistance of a machine. Thanks, machine!

From what I understand, no time passes under general anaesthetic. You blank out and fade back in moments later. But that moment holds hours. It holds the entire surgery in that thin black vial of time. Maybe there are more powerful and flexible metaphors on hand to describe what I'm imagining, but my mind balks at that five-hour instant. I will know, when I come out of the anaesthetic, what's happened to me, but my mind will not understand. And the notion that my mind can be so thoroughly tricked, in a feat of prestige akin to induced death, while my consciousness holds the knowledge with such bland ease, makes me angry, afraid and nauseated. Where do I put these emotions, since what's going to happen is something I've waited and campaigned for over the last eight months? These kinds of thoughts feel churlish.

Perhaps I'm used to my crippled state. The truth is that chronic pain gives you the ultimate hall pass. My natural tendency is to hermit, to sit at home or in a coffee shop and read or write the day away, to light a tiny room inside my head and close the door. My twisted back has given me license to indulge in this behaviour. Healing returns me to the world of physical freedom and responsibility, which exhilarates and terrifies.

The last time I went for a walk by myself, it was spring. It was cool enough out that I needed a hat. I walked five blocks to a coffee shop, and then a couple more blocks to a movie theatre. Every block I had to sit down and wait for the pain to die down. In early summer, I walked six blocks with Schmutzie. It took nearly an hour, and it was the dumbest thing I could have done. I hurt my back even further and have not recovered.

Now I'm looking forward to walking again. You have no idea how good that feels. I have a list of places I want to visit, stores and galleries and coffee shops. There's a chick pea stew at one place, a falafel at another. I want a new pair of jeans. Did you know that when you're twisted and bent over, there's no fucking point in buying new clothes? Bring on the full-length mirrors and the cruel lighting. Bring on the pleasure. Bring on the boredom.

23 comments:

Jude said...

Long time lurker:) I'll be praying for you today while your back gets fixed. I'm with you on the hermit issue - if I could I'd avoid most of the world most of the time but that doesn't mean it's a positive thing.....
Hoping you have good company and a good book for that waiting time and a peaceful mind to ease you through the day.

Indigo Bunting said...

So much happens in the space of not keeping up with blog reading.

You'll be in my thoughts today.

And I loved the nipple ring on the x-ray. It's kind of this ring of hope and everydayness.

Koan said...

You're definitely in my thoughts today.

How I remember that exciting (yet scary) "I'll get my life back after surgery... but what do I *do* with it?" feeling. Putting life on hold, for so long, and then realising that (barring complications, and allowing for recuperation) you can actually live again (or maybe for the first time)... heady stuff.

Be well, today, in recovery, and hereafter.

blackbird said...

I'll be thinking of you all day -

I missed the nipple ring. What a shame.

Working From Home Today said...

You may have mentioned and I've just completely missed it, but what exactly is wrong with your back? Did you get any answers?

Wishing you sweet relief! And as pain-free a recovery as possible.

wench said...

bring that sexy back Aiden! it will be stupendous to see a smile dawn on your face without the lurking pain fiend hiding in the back of your eyes.

Nate said...

::good thoughts::

New jeans? I dunno, I liked the ones with the hole in 'em.

lamech said...

For what it's worth, the few times I've been under general anaesthetic, coming back has been more like slowly floating up to the surface from the bottom of some kind of hangover-y ocean. It wasn't a sudden coming-to at all, more of a gradual returning from somewhere very far away; this served to diminish the lost-time feeling you're talking about. I say this to offer you some hope that it might not suck; or, that if it does, it might at least have the crushing familiarity of recovering from a night of several too many drinks.

In any case: rock on. Thoughts are with you. Here's all the luck you need, plus a bit extra to make the recovery easy.

Marie said...

General Anesthesia rocks!!! They stick a drip in you and strat to count backwards from ten, next thing you know you're watching Oprah.

palinode said...

You people are the snazz, with all your comments.

Jude - thanks. I'll have plenty of good company and good books. The peaceful mind I'm working on.

i. bunting - I'm going to tell people now that I have Body Piercings of Hope.

koan - Absolutely. Not only do I want my life back, I have this sense that what I'll be getting is a new life again - something different than before. Heady stuff for sure.

blackbird - You don't have to miss out on a nipple ring! Just send a self-addressed stamped envelope with "nipple ring" written on a 3x5 card. You'll receive Polaroids in 4-6 weeks. Or you can look at the x-ray image I posted a few entries back.

working - I have a midline fracture and herniated disc at my L4/L5 vertebrae. What that means is that my disc has escaped its home and is bumping up against my spinal cord. Once they remove the disc (or as much as possible) and some of the bone, I should be able to stand upright again. After that it's all rehab.

wench - Bring sexy back? I take sexy with me wherever I go! Sexy is my lapdog.

nate - Those are the only freaking pair of blue jeans I have left.

lamech - So what you're saying is that coming out of anaesthetic is like waking up after a hangover. I can live with that, especially since hangover treatments rarely involve Demerol. You've been under several times? I hope all is well with you these days.

marie - Do you mean that you're watching Oprah on television, or that she personally visits everyone who goes under the knife? Because I can see her doing that. Or does anaesthetic give you the magical power to spy on Oprah? That must get old pretty quick.

AH said...

Good surgeons are indeed a blessing, as are the lovely folks wholl tend to your after-needs. I'll be sending good vibes your way all day; your blog is on my 'read every day' list, so heal quickly!

Tamara said...

Thinking good thoughts for your doctor and you and for a speedy recovery.

elsie said...

Sending good thoughts your way -- happy healing thoughts. Just curious about one thing, though. You can't walk, you can't stand up straight, you can't work ... yet, the medical care system considers this to be elective surgery?

Working From Home Today said...

Re Gory Details: Gawd damn. Ouch. How does a vertebrae just fracture like that? (presumably you're heavily sedated right now, so I can wait for the answer)

I hope they let you have the Internets during recovery.

Gwen said...

I'm hoping that you're already under and being fixed and that your time of painful waiting will be over. Don't worry about your mind - it will heal and normalize the same as your body. And Schmutzie will likely have some funny stories about things you said or did while going under and coming out of anesthesia. The last time I was under they say I sang Tom Petty songs. I didn't even know I was a fan of his.

Brett said...

Good luck to you, yours, and on behalf of bipedal vertebrates everywhere, we look forward to your return to staunch uprightedness. Should your brain be up for literary endeavours during your recovery, do let me know.

Once when I went under general anaesthetic, I thought it would be funny to sing "A Bicycle Built For Two". The nurses didn't get it, and I've since learned to bite my lower lip while going under.

wench said...

clarification: i meant bring your "sexy back" along with other hopefully moving parts to the pub without the cushion.

when did you get a lapdpog? do oscar & onion like it?

fatboyfat said...

I'm not entirely sure how the time difference works, so I'll be thinking good thoughts for a day or so. Just to be on the safe side.

jon deal said...

Good luck to you! Hope it goes well.

lotus07 said...

God's Speed....hope you end up wearing out a pair of Dr. School's padded insouls.

erin said...

You have my best wishes. I hope you start to feel better soon.

Sue said...

I hope the pain-killers are the best and that soon you won't need them. I pray that the cats do not jump on your incision. May you walk in peace with your spine.

Ozma said...

Bring it! I hope you are well very soon.