I sign in at the pre-op registration desk, then sit down with a pile of books and magazines. One thing I remember about surgery, even something minor, is that there's a lot of waiting. J. is next to me, furiously emailing on his iPhone. He's working remotely today so I can do this.
Near us, two couples meet and hug. One of the women keeps protectively rubbing a palm over her abdomen and I get the feeling there is an egg exchange about to happen.
The second woman is left alone. The donor? Her face twitches like she might cry. Though I try to look away in time, I know she's caught me watching. She seems okay with it, and keeps almost meeting my eyes as I continue to glance her way and she mine.
When a nurse finally comes to fetch me, I tell J. to wait in the hospital lobby where it will be more comfortable for him to work and also where he'll have cell coverage if the kids' school calls.
I go alone to a recliner, where I change into a gown, pajama pants, matching robe, and fuzzy socks. My blood is taken, and then accidentally dripped all over the tile floor.
They give me a pregnancy test. Though I know I'm not pregnant, I wonder what I would do if the test came back positive. Would I pack up my things and ask J. to drive me home, dumbfounded and horrified? Or would I say, It can't be more than a few cells by now, just continue on. The D&C and burning of my uterine lining will take care of that.
I sit there for more than an hour. No one comes to tell me I'm pregnant. I am asked at least ten times if I had anything to eat or drink that day. It is noon and my stomach grumbles angrily. My throat is parched. I tell the nurses I had nothing. I don't mention that I sneaked a few ice chips.
Finally, I am taken down to the real pre-op room, where I'm given another recliner and, finally, an IV to rehydrate me. It is odd, I think, how after a while my thirst is quenched, my throat moistened, even though I drink nothing. A warm blanket is placed atop my legs (the best part about surgery, apart from the drugs). I've left all my belongings in a paper bag upstairs and I'm bored. I'm one of the only people there with no person with whom to quietly chat. It was my choice to come here alone, I remind myself.
I can only watch the others and try not to think about going under soon. That's the part that scares me. The fear of not waking up.
The woman in the chair next to mine is getting a breast biopsy. I know this because I eavesdrop. Thin curtains give the illusion of privacy, but can't really muffle much. She's emotional. Her husband sits next to her flipping through a Kaui guidebook. Mostly he's attentive and low key. I think I could be friends with both of them.
Two chairs to my right is an Asian man and his wife who require the use of a translator. When his doctor comes to talk to him, he says loudly that's he's going to "CARVE A CHANNEL THROUGH YOUR PROSTATE". I don't know what this means, but the man looks frail already. He lies reposed, old.
I am amused by how each anesthesiologist asks to see everyone's teeth. They are looking for chips or loosening or dentures. My own anesthesiologist explains they do this in case they have to use a breathing tube. They need to cover their asses by proving that they didn't chip or knock out any teeth in surgery.
And then he does something strange, my anesthesiologist. He claims to spot a small chip in one of my top, front teeth. "Huh," I say. "No, I don't think so."
He says, "Touch it with your thumb, right there." I do, but then he also, awkwardly, wedges his own thumb into my mouth. He proceeds to tell me I have beautiful teeth. I feel like something slightly askew has happened. I just hope he's smart and can keep me comfortable and alive.
I am led into the OR, where I lie, fully sober, on a bed and look up at the massive lights hanging down from the ceiling. I want my drugs. Even with more warm blankets draped across me, I shiver. I remember this, how cold operating rooms are kept.
After a moment, the anesthesiologist says, "Here comes your martini."
I stop shivering almost instantly. I stare up at the ceiling as the narcotics take effect. It is nice and floaty and I assume I close my eyes.
When I wake up, I feel terrific, like I've just had a long, refreshing nap. Nothing hurts.
The nurse gets me applesauce, juice, and graham crackers. I am eating as J. comes in. Then the cramps start. Mildly at first. Like a bad period. I ask for percocet. I have learned the hard way that when pain comes, you jump on it quickly without waiting for it to get bad. The percocet takes the edge off. I am extremely woozy, yet grateful that I've been able to get this done.
I try to refuse the wheelchair that will take me to the car, but am instructed to sit down anyway. Smart, I think. It would've been a slow walk.
At home the cramps worsen and J. leaves to get the kids and take them to Max's Little League practice. I have two hours of sweet, sweet quiet, during which I post too much on Facebook and nap and press a heating pad to my stomach. Accidentally, I take more pain pills than I should. Nothing bad comes to pass, though.
I wake the next day with barely a twinge of pain. I put away the percoset--a little regretfully--and resume my normal life. Grocery shopping, blog posting, work, writing, phone calls. And if this is all there has been to it, it will have been so worth it.