Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Procedure No. 5

Oh hum. Another procedure tomorrow, the fifth one to be exact, and I should be used to this by now but I’m not.  There’s still something deeply disturbing about being put under and having someone snip away at your innards.

It has gotten to be routine.  My friend P drives me to the hospital and drops me off. I sign a ton of papers saying the medical authorities are not responsible for a single thing, including somehow breaking my teeth. I strip down, put on the paper robe that leaves my but bare-naked, slip on the disposable slippers and hair net. I wait. I wait some more.

One or two young nurses insert tubes in my arm and poke at the veins in my left hand. At some point Anesthesiologist No. 1 comes in and explains that I will be put under, which I sort of already know, and I respond that because of my medical condition, I will need an extra-large dose of whatever they plan to use to knock me out. He/she smiles, nods, says of course, and leaves; a half-an-hour or so later, Anesthesiologist No. 2 makes an appearance to tell me what Anesthesiologist No. 1 said earlier, and IU repeat myself: high dosage, please, etcetera.  So far, so good. Nurses No. 3 and 4 ask me if have eaten anything in the last 12 hours, and if I have a living will. No and yes. And will someone come and pick me after the procedure?  No. I plan on riding my skateboard back to my house. That seldom gets a laugh.

I’ve been through this drill so many times I feel as if the medical staff should invite me to Thanksgiving dinner at their home. I am on first-name basis with half the nursing crew and on a daily basis I get friendly little emails from them reminding me of what I am allowed and not allowed to do before and after the operation.

It’s too dangerous to be overly optimistic. I’ve been declared cancer-free twice, and not-so-cancer free three times, so the law of averages dictates that the chemo process should have worked and I should be OK after this round, but then the very same laws shouldn’t have let that guy living in the Florida swamps win the lottery three separate times over two years.

“The older I get,” says my friend D, “the more I think it’s all probabilities.”  I tend to agree, even though even as I write I know I’m on the prayer list of several good people, and I deeply appreciate it. Being an aging hippy, I believe in both good and bad karma and the tendency for one to offset the other.  And being an aging Buddhist as well, I’m aware that the faith recommends an awareness  of the Three Poisons: Lobha, greed or desire, is attraction to something we think will gratify us. Dvesh or dosa is anger, hatred, animosity, ill-will, aversion. Moha is ignorance or delusion. Many Buddhists believe that the Three Poisons, together or separately can have a deep effect on one’s health.

Me? I don’t know. Certainly greed, lust, anger, hatred and ignorance are poor servants, but can they actually conspire to make us sick? Probably. Ulcers come to mind, as do panic attacks and a hellish wealth of other nasties. But cancer?  At any rate, I’ve always thought I’d been waging the good fight against lobha, dosa and moha for years, though in retrospect I may have been winning the skirmishes while losing the war.
Crap. It’s far too complex for a simple mind.

But here’s a good part my friend O reminded me of yesterday.  Say the surgeon really messes up and worst comes to worst, I’ll come back as a human. Why? Because I have had the honor of seeing the Shenshiyiqiewaerdala Dalai Lama in person, and according to legend, that’s one of the bennies of being in the holy man’s presence, even briefly.

So I’ll come out of this weighing a few less ounces. Getting little pieces of you snipped out may possibly be the worst diet plan in the world.


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