Calm Before the Knife

2002.07.08
By

The weird thing is, I’m still trying to figure out why I’m not SCARED.

I often think I’m too stupid to realize when my life, reputation, or other reality-anchors are in danger. I mean, I experienced the certainty of death in February 1988 while serving as a deckhand on the Golden Hinde II, when a freighter loomed out of the midnight fog and into our tiny ship just west of the shark-rich Golden Gate (I recall turning to my fellow foredeck-perched shipmates just before impact and actually saying, “I know this is a cliche, but it really has been nice knowing you all”). Since then, everything has seemed like “Free Time” — it’s helpful to tell myself, “As bad as this current situation is, at least I’m not Carcharadon carcharias poo.” My self-perception is thus of this well-meaning fellow bumbling from one situation to the next, lope-diddy-lope, something like Swee’Pea gurgling in the robot factory while a frantic Popeye rushes frantically (and unnecessarily) to save him.

Well, I don’t always feel that way. But a lot of the time I do. Maybe everyone does. I don’t know.

It’s therefore probably a mistake to obsess over why I don’t feel something. Mostly what I’m feeling right now is testicular discomfort (I really should go lay down), happy wooziness from the painkillers, frustration and inconvenience, uselessness, and a deep gratitude for having this opportunity to learn stuff I otherwise wouldn’t have. (Did I write that already? Well, I still feel that way. I hate writing it out, though, because it makes me sound like some sort of pious religious fanatic. I hate pious religious fanatics. Hypocritical ones, anyway.)

So. Surgery tomorrow. The schedule, I have been informed, is as follows:

  • 12 a.m. to 10 a.m. — No food intake except for clear liquids.
  • 1:30 p.m. — Registration and pre-surgical prep (IV drip, interesting drugs)
  • (1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Hold Ann’s hand and lamely attempt to entertain her with gallows humor peppered with Seinfeld references
  • 3:30 p.m. — Surgery
  • 4:30 p.m. — Recovery room
  • 6:30 p.m. — Homecoming

Then, on Thursday, a trip to my oncologist in Marin County to get the pathology.

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