1: Stomach Procedure
My gastro doctor gave me a general so he could scope my upper guts, et cetera. As things got blurry, the nurse told me I looked like Jerry Seinfeld. (Months earlier, a pimp made the same observation as I jogged past him and his creamy Mercedes at night outside The Ascot Lounge, where three women, decked out in shiny gold dresses, sang, “Seinfeld! Seinfeld!”) The medical team had installed some kind of device in my mouth that would accept the scope and when they introduced the scope to my throat, I responded with a long helpless burp, a free-jazz burp that sufficiently impressed the doctor, who scrutinized me. “AAAGGGHHH!” he screamed, nearly dropping the puppeteer controls of the scope. My eyes were wide open. “He’s not asleep!” I couldn’t speak, on account of the machinery jammed down my esophagus. I thought ‘Ha! Now you can’t talk about me!’ The nurse said, “Ha! Now we can’t talk about him!” Later, in the recovery room, the nurse added, “Seinfeld would’ve gone to sleep.” I asked the doctor what were the weirdest things he ever saw in someone’s stomach. He spit out his tic tac as the question must’ve caught him off guard. “A full size tooth brush,” he reasoned. “Also an undigested snake head.” I called him Dr. Gold— when his name was Dr. Wein—. He told me, in return, that I probably had a terrible condition. I’d have to take medication the rest of my life and we would have to schedule an appointment to discuss biopsy results. In the end, I didn’t have any condition at all, and on the appointed date of the dire appointment, the doctor sat beside me in a crisp white jacket. He didn’t really remember me (he had a busy practice) but he patted me on the back with the negative biopsy findings and rattled a few tic tacs in his hand, as if they were festive peanuts.
2: Wisdom Teeth
My oral surgeon gave me a general so he could saw into my upper jaw and lower jaw, to remove four impacted wisdom choppers. He and the nurse pumped me full of old school sleeping gas. Long past the junction when the oral surgery manual would’ve read, ‘Hey, enough of the gas already!’ he was pumping me full of sleeping gas. Did he say “Count to one hundred?” Did he say “Recite the alphabet backwards, starting at Z?” I have no idea because my eyes were blinkered. It was as black as death only it was black so it wasn’t death. (It was not unlike ‘the black lights of unconsciousness’ that boxers detail—boxers, that is, who’ve been knocked out—except there were no lights whatsoever, just the faintest rhythm of respiration.) I could tell time in there—I could tell time whatever I wanted—so I gave time a good piece of my mind—“Hurry the F--- up!” I said. (To time.) The doctor’s name was Bird or Turd. He and the nurse were crouched over me as I ‘came to’ but they were looking into my mouth with worried brows. Had I swallowed something during the surgery that they should discuss with me? Had they sawed into the proper part of my jaw? Was this some kind of elaborate Intervention concerning my oral hygiene habits? Before he discharged me, Dr. Turd told me to take as many painkillers as I wanted, so I did. I took so many painkillers that I woke up one night unable to move, with a sensation of falling into the earth. I didn’t die. But death seemed near.
3: Hand Surgery
I had done something valorous but part of me, in the process, passed through a window, leading to lots of blood, and I severed the nerve fiber in my thumb, so my hand doctor gave me a general before she attempted to reconnect the tissue. A curtain had been established between my elbow and the careful motions of the surgical instruments. I lay there, on the operating slab, considering the ceiling, the overhead lights, the ductwork, the electrical apparatus, and the ventilation, when a moon-like face, with overgrown eyebrows and nasal hairs, appeared above me. He hovered there, looking deeply into my eyes, a man wrinkled by his difficult experiences. “How’s it going?” he said, at last. “Okay,” I replied. “You’re supposed to be under,” he observed. “Yeah,” I said. “But you’re not,” he added. “I am not,” I agreed. “Unless I’m dreaming.” The face shook. “You’re not dreaming,” said the lips. “If you say so,” I sighed. “Are you in pain?” he said. I thought about this. “I feel some pressure,” I explained. “Do you want me to give you something?” He patted his pocket. “You mean you’ve got something in your coat?” I said. “Oh yeah,” he said. “I’m in charge around here.” He spread out his arms to indicate the entirety of the operating theatre. “Really?” I said. “Believe it,” he said. My surgeon then materialized beside The Moon-like Doctor. “He’s supposed to be under,” she stated. “Yes,” went The Moon-like Doctor, “he and I were just speaking about that.” She flabbergasted her hands this way and the other way before returning to the other side of the curtain, even though I think the surgery was over, by that point. “Well, so long,” said The Moon-like Doctor. “Wait a second,” I called. “Do you have many conversations like this, with patients who are supposed to be under?” He laughed but didn’t answer. The hand doctor casted my thumb. I was 19 years old. I would be less opposable than before but given the surgical intervention more opposable than if I’d opted, simply, to cleanse the original wound of its glass. In short, I could still resist.