August 1, 2006

Originally posted on the Breast Health Online forum

I am laying on the surgical table, waiting for the anesthesiologist to arrive. 

Nearby, a surgical nurse is looking at my chart, making notes. "We need to check one more item," she tells me, as she slips a stethoscope beneath my right breast. She frowns as she listens. 

"Is something wrong?" I ask.

"I'm not sure," she says."Let me go find the doctor's assistant."

Moments later, an obscenely young doctor in full Doogie Howser regalia is poking and prodding my breasts. I ask him to tell me what's going on -- why all the Frowny Faces, all of a sudden? -- but he doesn't respond to any of my questions. I feel myself starting to panic.  

I glance over at the far corner of the operating room, where my entire high school graduating class (Go Glacier HS Class of '76!) is sitting in the bleachers, observing the proceedings. ("Gimme a G!" I say to them weakly, attempting humor. No one responds, although Becky O'Brien Norman reminds me that I still owe $5.73 in library fines.)

Finally, Dr. Doogie stops poking and prodding."I'm very sorry, Mrs. Rafter," he says. "We're not going to be able to perform your surgery after all."

I am absolutely devastated. After decades of waiting, after all of the expense, the worry, the anticipation, it's suddenly being called off??

"PLEASE tell me you're kidding," I say to him. And then I burst into tears.

End of stoopid dream.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

So yeah  ...  I had my first fullblown Anxiety Dream last night. I woke in a panicky cold sweat, sometime around 4 a.m., and never really fell asleep again afterwards. This morning it has taken not one but THREE forbidden cups of coffee to keep me vertical long enough to make it to the office.

And it's only 9 a.m.

I would say that I am probably Officially Freaking Out at this point.  

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

My co-worker Barbara is helping me to keep me sane this morning. I was talking to her earlier, about how my biggest fear is the anesthesia ... the possibility of going to sleep and never waking up after.

"Give your husband something to hold onto, just before the surgery," she said. "Tell him that he needs to hang onto it for you, and then he can give it back to you after you wake up."

I glanced down at my engagement and wedding rings.

"Those would be perfect," Barbara said. "Let him hold your rings."

The idea seems so lovely ... so completely fabulously appropriate ... that I actually started to cry, right there at my desk.  She hugged me, and told me that everything was going to be 'fine.' 

And I know that it will be. The smart part of me knows that the anesthesia is going to be the easiest part of the surgical process. It's getting through today (and tomorrow, and the day-after-tomorrow) without going stark raving BONKERS that may be the real test.

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