Get Me Outta Here!
We arrive at 6am. I sign a piece of paper which informs me of the risks of my day procedure using phrases such as “unforeseen side effects including death.” A plastic bracelet is secured around my wrist. Promptly at 7am, I kiss my husband goodbye and follow a stern-looking nurse through a side door. She points me to a changing room.
“Nothing on underneath. Only the gown.”
She takes my clothes, my shoes, my underwear. I am left barefoot in a nearly see-through gown I hold shut in the back with a tight grip on the gaping cloth.
“Lay down.” She points to a narrow bed on rollers.
Again, I obey.
Three seconds later I have a tube in my arm. Another nurse takes my blood pressure and my pulse. “Did you have anything to eat in the last twenty-four hours?”
“Are you sure?”
“No cereal, no fruit, no bread, no banana . . . “The list continues. On and on.
“If you've had something to eat, I need to know.”
“No, I have not had anything to eat.” Does she think I'm lying?
“This form says that I've asked you if you've had anything to eat and you've said, no. Sign here.”
Too late I realize I didn't read the form. As she walks away, I almost call her back, but that's stupid--isn't it? I mean, why am I so nervous? This is just day surgery.
They wheel me away down a hallway, into an elevator, and then into a room crowded with people. Surely this can't be correct? This is minor surgery. What are all these people doing here? I count fourteen. Really? Fourteen?
Two nurses or doctors--let's just call them people in scrubs and masks--strap me down to the table.
Why straps? Do they expect me to try to make a run for it?
“Just relax,” one of the people who had strapped me to the table says.
Does he really think the phrase, “Just relax,” makes people relax? I think unstrapping me might make me relax.
Above me lights, so many lights, perhaps fifteen or twenty, glow brightly, each one with a shiny metal hat to direct the beam. Moving my head slightly from side to side, I intently examine the fixture. Something's wrong, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Then I realize that although the fixture is polished and highly reflective, I can't see my reflection on any surface. Someone has deliberately designed the fixture so that I, the patient, cannot see myself strapped down to the operating table.
My heart pounds in my chest.
I gasp for breath.
Calm down. It's only day surgery. This probably isn't a horror movie. Surely, they aren't going to harvest my organs and sell them overseas, or implant an alien fetus in my uterus.
Yet, there is something about those lights, as if no one wants me to realize what a precarious position I'm in. Precarious? No, helpless! And the masks? Of course, they are wearing masks. That way I can't identify them in a police lineup when I finally manage to escape and notify the authorities.
As every instinct in my body screams, “Get out! Get out now!” the nurse/doctor/whatever who had strapped me down, injects something into my IV.
I want to shout, “No!” But I don't. Afterall, what can I do? I AM STRAPPED TO THE TABLE!
“Count backwards from a hundred,” he says.
I try to control my shaking. “One hundred.” I am so obedient. Why am I so freaking obedient?
“Please keep counting.”
“Ninety-nine . . .”
I'm an educated, adult woman. Why did I allow someone to strap me, nearly naked, to an operating table in a room full of strangers?
My doctor? Where is my doctor? Am I in the right room? What if there's been some clerical error?
I realize I never read the name on my bracelet.
What if they think I'm someone else? What if they amputate my leg, or remove my brain!
I lift my head, straining to see the thin slip of plastic. I can't quite . . .
I wake in recovery. Home by super. The operation is a complete success.
Nope, never going back.