Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brain Surgery

The expression "it's not brain surgery" is synonymous with something not being super difficult. Therefore, "brain surgery" (like, perhaps, "rocket science") is a neat expression for something that is about as challenging as humans can imagine. That is, until you are about to HAVE brain surgery, and then you start to find importance in subtle distinctions -- like "as far as brain surgery goes, it's relatively simple," which i found comforting until the anesthsiologist today suggested that maybe i was being a bit TOO casual about upcoming events, and that I had to cut myself some slack -- that this was "brain surgery, afterall..."

Hell, even the Incas did brain surgery.

Many times when people have big dangerous operations, it's all part of a larger emergency - a stroke or heart attack or accident or whatever; where something happens and you're rushed to the hospital and the next thing you know you've got an IV in your arm and you're in the O.R. You might not even be conscious. By the time you wake up you're just glad the doctors got to you in time. Then there are those other medical moments, when it's an emergency of sorts, but its scheduled. Maybe a tumor or, in my case, an AVM. In these moments you've got LOTS of time to ponder the implications. I imagine it sort of like being on death row. It's not optional. It looms out there in the near future, hard to think about, hard to envision. Best ignored. But it hits you in waves... of panic or fear or loss... sadness often. Then you buck up and it goes away for awhile. It's inevitable. There's a general sense of fear of discomfort or pain. On death row, like in my case, you know there will be pain/discomfort, but regardless, it will be short lived and then, as soon as you're there, you're through it. I felt that way as the nurse outlined the various I.Vs and catheters and stuff that were going into me and when. Some when I was awake, more when i was asleep. I urged her to move as many to the unconscious part of my morning and she agreed.

Anyway, this evening feels full of ritual: the paying of bills, the finding of family documents, the returning of some emails, the packing and the body prep... the shaving of my head, for instance. Less for medical practicality and more for mental preparation and transition. (I thought at first it would keep me from looking lopsided as they shaved whatever they needed to for cutting me - but i have to admit it was ultimately just part of my process - like the face paint of a warrior or the laying out of a uniform.) My uniform and tools (baggy shorts, sweat shirt, some WIRED magazines, a stack of Netflix movies, and a fully charged laptop) is ready to go, although i won't need much until Thursday some time. I'm told Wednesday is going to be an utter haze and as with crossing the International Date Line west to China, you just accept that you're going to lose a day and probably never really get it back.

I'm going to go be somber, find some warm socks, and i'll see ya'll on the other side.


Anonymous said...

I hope youer doing well. I cant even think of what this is like for you but lets hope it make youer life better after its all done.

Random Thoughts said...

Wow. They did brain surgery that long ago. That is pretty scary. Do you think that they were ever successful in their practice? If a brain swells up, they can cut a piece of the skull to prevent death. That may have been a successful procedure that could have occurred way back then.

DelorumRex said...

They say it was a plus...