We show up on time and are ushered into the waiting room. There are a lot of people waiting, all accompanied by one or more person, and all carrying some sort of a bag. We are no different, except our bag is BIG. We were told to bring a house coat. The one we have is very plush and takes up a lot of room.

Our name comes up. I am taken into a room where this guy shaves my stomach and some other parts. He is very efficient. Then out to the pre-op room which also turns out to be the recovery room after the operation. All sorts of people are walking around, checking computers, and white boards on the wall. My bed is near the nursing station which is an amazing vantage point. Janet and I talk briefly about the organised chaos that abounds. Finally my turn.

Questions about drug allergies, and do I want an epidural or not. This is for when I come out of surgery as opposed to during surgery. The epidural stops the pain at the spine. The other choice is morphine which fuzzes up the brain. I go for the epidural. There are risks with the procedure, I might end up paralyzed. Whatever. They take my vitals. I am perfect.

Janet and I keep talking. Mostly about being strong, and not flinching. About the state of the mind which control so much of the body. We decide I am Spartacus and I will conquer. We also decide on a them song: Queen’s We are the champions:

I’ve paid my dues -
Time after time -
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime -
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face -
But I’ve come through

We are the champions – my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions – of the world -

I’ve taken my bows
And my curtain calls -
You brought me fame and fortuen and everything that goes with it
-
I thank you all -

But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise -
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race -
And I ain’t gonna lose -

We are the champions – my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions – of the world -

I don’t know the lyrics but sing bravely as they wheel me to the operating room. Narrow bed, lots of people milling about. I am moved to the narrow bed. I flirt briefly with the nurses and that is all I remember.  Turns out I went under singing the song which amused everyone.

I wake up, and I use the term very loosely in the recovery room. I hear people screaming at me, just like in the movies. I am told to wiggle my toes, and bend my knees. And I try. I tell my toes to wiggle. They tell me to get lost. I tell my knees to bend, they tell me to get lost. I talk to my toes who do not respond. I can somehow tell they are there, but they are not responding. The nurses told me later they thought I was being stubborn. Turns out I am opiate naive. Remember that from yesterday? One of the results of this condition is over-reaction to drugs. In this case, the epidural is blocking everything. I am paralyzed from the waist down. Cannot feel a thing. I touch my thighs and they feel like swollen blubber. The nurses calm down. We just have to wait for the drugs to thaw out.

I am very confused and want to know if the operation was done or not.  They tell me it was done and it took 8 hours. I am even more confused. I have no memory of 8 hours in my day. The drugs are so strong that it does not even occur to me to ask about where Janet is, and that she would be worried sick. I have no consciousness of anything at the moment. Only that 8 hours have disappeared. And that I cannot feel my toes.

At some point, Janet and Devin come in to see me. I have no concept of time. I have no idea when they came, or how long they stayed. I seem to recollect that Dr. Kennedy also showed up, but cannot be sure. It took over 6 hours for the effects of the epidural to wear off. I kept trying to wiggle my toes throughout the 6 hours. Had little else to do. Had long conversations with the nurse. She was wonderful, but I forget her name. What a relief when the toes finally responded. The night shift was just starting as I was taken into the step down room. I made the nurses sing We are the champions as I was wheeled out. They thought it was funny, specially since none of us knew the words.

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