Bent Words

Bent Words

November 19, 2006

A large parrot, the size of my 6’ 2” father – red, green and blue – followed us through the east entrance of the Waukesha Memorial Hospital. His wings, perhaps, obstructed his ability to open the door. A pirate disappeared down the corridor behind my mother and me.

It was Halloween, even at the hospital, and my every step seemed clouded with the reality of my ‘open right bankart’ surgery and the fantasy world that made up the disinfected hallways.

I was about to have a procedure done to repair my recurrent shoulder dislocations. It involved opening a two-inch slit in my arm, just above my right armpit, between my shoulder and breastbone, where the surgeon would cut through the muscle and replace the loosened cartilage, tightening it against the joint with two metal screws.

In the pre-op room, Betsy the Bunny took my temperature and measured my blood pressure. As she moved around the room, she wrinkled her nose and shifted the pointy white ears atop her head. Her whiskers, three lines drawn on either side of her nose with a black eyeliner pencil, crinkled with her smile. Her sarcastic eyes scanned my hairy legs as she fit them for circulation stockings. Her gaze, colored with criticism, met mine. I shrugged.

A woman, dressed as a rabbit, was scrutinizing my unshaven calves.

My mother remained in the small room with me while my father, who never seemed sure just what to do in situations like that, departed for a business meeting.

At first, I had not wanted my mother and father to take me to the hospital. It was such a long haul for them, merely to drive me five minutes up the road but, when the time came, I was extremely grateful for their company. My support team was in full effect, my two best friends were at my side and I no longer had to worry over the meaning of my boyfriend’s suggestion,

“Why don’t you just walk to the hospital and I’ll pick you up later?”

“That’s out of the question, Laura,” my mother had said after I called her, crying, “and don’t you worry about a thing. You’re coming home with us and we’re going to take care of you.”

Rolling down the long hallway to the operating room, Betsy the Bunny hopping alongside me, I staved off the tears and managed to make the girls in the operating room giggle. Strapped down to a narrow table, crucifix-style, my heart clambering in my chest, I recounted the hospital staff – the parrot, the pirate and the bunny – in all of their glorious detail. The two nurses laughed at the irony in my voice while they placed thick, heated blanket over my body.

Michael, the anesthesiologist, waved a gloved magician’s hand over my face and said; “see ya later,” while I rolled my eyes in reply. It was going to take more than a few seconds worth of… anesthesia… to knock… this girl… out…

Five and a half hours later, I was rolled into a large hospital suite where my mother and father stood, ready to greet me. My father, never knowing quite what to do in circumstances like that, merely remained silent with his hands shoved into his pant’s pockets, a gentle smile spread across his face. My mother smiled down at me, too, the light dancing through her dark brown eyes.

Muddled with Morphine, I stared back at them, wishing I could bring them both into better focus. But their blurry visages did not so much matter. Just knowing they were there for me, as they had always been, was more than enough to ease my troubled mind.

Written at 2:16 p.m.