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Anxiety. Frustration. Rage! Lady, don’t make me come over there. I haven’t had anything to eat or drink since midnight, and I REALLY don’t want to be here, and you’re going to make me late for my surgical prep because you can’t find my name in your &%#$ing computer?
But what I really said, after chuckling nervously, was, “Yes, ma’am, I’m sure.”
I would have paid big bucks for a cup of coffee.
I usually start my day with a bowl of oatmeal or an egg white omelette with sauteed veggies and cheddar, and God help the poor fool who gets between me and my favorite extra-large coffee cup. So while I knew I would survive a couple of hungry hours before my 11:00 AM surgical start time, I was more than a little concerned about the possibility of caffeine-deprivation and nerves combining and exploding in the face of anyone who dared to wish me a good morning.
We straightened out the confusion, I signed a stack of papers, then I settled into a chair in the surgical waiting room, where someone sat and sipped a cup of hospital cafeteria coffee. How dare they? Normally, that slightly stale, industrial grade coffee scent offends me, but that day the very idea of anything resembling my favorite morning addiction made me want to jump up and run to the nearest Starbucks and forget the whole thing.
Ah, Starbucks. How I love you.
I was relieved to have finally reached Thursday, the day of surgery, so that I could get it over with, but now I wanted to be anywhere but here. All week when asked how I was feeling about things, I replied, “I really just need it to be Friday.”
I had almost forgotten about the first time I had a lump removed, fifteen years ago, when the local anesthetic didn’t work. The sedation drugs snowed me under enough that I could not speak or open my eyes, but I could hear and understand everything, as if I was awake. And I most certainly did not receive any benefit of the merciful “amnesia” that was supposed to come from one of the drugs. I remember it vividly. The surgeon began to cut, and I felt all of it, but couldn’t get the words out to tell them so. After a few seconds, someone saw my face and asked, “Can you feel that, Kathryn?” at which point I was able to squeak out a pathetic, “It hurts; hard to talk.”
They stopped, told me that I needed to tell them if I felt pain (gee, thanks, wish I had thought of that) injected more local anesthetic, and got on with it. But the memory remains.
I worried a lot about that this week. What if the anesthesia doesn’t work? What if I can’t say anything this time? What if nobody notices?
I also worried about my extremely agitating tendency to bleed. My brother and I have joked for years that we must be from the planet Krypton, with our odd medical anomalies. I have enough platelets for three or four people, and I take an aspirin daily to keep them moving along. The concern about bleeding is trumped by the worry over clotting; in my case, the benefits of the aspirin outweigh the risk.
Hard to quiet those damned worry voices. They’ve kept up their blasted whispering for a week.