06 April 2009

One Step Closer: Where Will I Wake Up?

One more meeting.

Today my department had its penultimate meeting of this academic year. One more to go...until my surgery.

It seems lately that everything is a countdown. It's always another week, another day, another moment closer to the surgery. One less day, one less meeting till the surgery. No more clothes swaps. One less trip on the subway. Yes, I even thought that tonight, as the train rushed through the 67th Avenue station on the E train. Once more out of the station.

All of the doctors insist, and everything I've read asserts, that I'll still have the same senses, and that I'll be able to do anything I did before, as long as it doesn't require as much physical strength as I had before. Still, I can't help but to wonder whether I'll see any of my surroundings differently, or perhaps I'll be in different surroundings.

Logically, I don't expect the surgery to change my senses. Then again, I didn't think the hormones would, either. Sometimes I feel as if I've lost some layer of protection I once had: sounds and light are more intense than they once were.

And everything I feel, hear, see, taste and touch--or touches me--is one step closer to that day. Or one less experience that I must have on the way.

One less meeting in a conference room. One less meeting in a coffee shop, a classroom or on the streets. Or one more experience on the way.

I'm glad the meeting is past. That hasn't changed; I don't think anyone has ever wished for longer or more meetings at the workplace. Or less sleep. That's how I'm feeling now: ready to drop off. One less time falling asleep, or one more sleep, before the one that will be induced when I am in the operating room.

That makes me more nervous than the operation itself. I have never undergone anything more than local anaesthesia, except for one time when I was about seven or eight years old. I was having a tooth pulled, and in those days doctors almost always put people under general anaesthesia even for the smallest of surgeries. After being in that dentist's chair, the next thing I could remember was getting on the subway at the Fourth Avenue station in Brooklyn. It's an elevated, open-air station that, on one end, plunges into a tunnel. We got on the train that went in that direction and disembarked a couple of stations after it re-emerged from the tunnel.

The E train, which I ride to and from work, runs underground for its entire length. Of the city's two dozen or so subway lines, the R and the Times Square shuttle are the only others that never run in the open air. People invariably leave those tunnels in different places from the ones where they entered. Most of the time, the places where they enter and exit the tunnel are places they've seen before; sometimes they're seen every day. But once in a while, someone enters for the first time or comes out in some place he or she has never seen.

Where will I wake up?

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