“You won’t even know it’s there,” said the surgeon.
“My brother-in-law sure did,” I replied referring to the incident in the ICU which I witnessed.
AS he was coming out of his sleep, he became aware of the tube down his throat and began struggling with it so violently that he had to be held down while he was put back to sleep. He stayed that way for three days.
“You won’t even be aware of it,” the surgeon said, “and if you are you won’t remember.”
I decided to go with that. In the end you have to put your faith in something.
Still, some days later as I was wheeled into the operating theatre, the last conscious thought was of that tube down my throat.
Many hours later as I slowly awoke, I remember the doctor saying, “the breathing tube is out now, you can speak.”
“What breathing tube?” I asked.
The thing is, if you don’t know something has happened to you, has it really happened?
* inspired by Billy Mac’s ‘A Daughter’s Love’ from his ‘Superman can’t find a phone booth’ blog
It looked like it would stomp any minute
trumpeting in terror from being woken
after all these years.
What had we done?
What if it went berserk?
Trampled on our good intentions?
Pooped all over the room?
[Have you ever seen elephant poo?]
Or, worse, collapsed on one of us like a slab
So far I’ve dodged the bullet
The Damoclean sword
But I know it’s coming for me.
I have its word.
It’s waiting in the rafters.
It’s waiting in the pews.
It has interminable patience
& that is not good news.
It knows my area of weakness
My Achilles heel.
It’s waiting for me to slip up.
It knows I will.
It will not be beaten.
It will not be assuaged.
I open the door tentatively.
It maybe in the yard.
I went out today without my mobile phone.
It felt wanton.
I know something dreadful will happen.
An accident. A death.
A crack in the surface of things.
And someone will try to contact me.
It’s happened before.
My daughter giving birth.
I was three hours late.
But nine times out of ten it doesn’t.
It’s a gamble.
A dead weight in my pocket.
The world can do without me for a few hours.
I’ll be back, as Arnie says.
There may be messages saying,
Where the hell are you? We’ve been trying to contact you all day!
And I’ll answer winsomely,
I just stepped out for a moment.
You shouldn’t have written that poem, he said.
That short one about brain tumors.
But I wrote it before her daughter …. I protested.
Doesn’t matter. She needn’t be reminded of it.
I can’t take it back. It’s out there now.
You didn’t have to give her the book the poem was in. Each time she reads it she’ll be reminded.
You could have pulled it, he said. It didn’t have to be there.
He was right. It didn’t. But it was a good poem. My editor said it had to go in. Anyway it wasn’t about Jess. It was written about a tumor I had seen in Scientific American, how beautiful it was, how like the wings of a butterfly unfurling into the hemispheres of the brain.
Are there subjects we should not write about?
I’m on a bus, he said. It’s like that bus in ‘Speed’. It can never stop. It can’t slow down. It can’t pick up passengers. It tears through the countryside in a purple blur. You don’t get a chance to take it in. There’s no such thing as a ‘breather’. There are no rest stops. The driver never sleeps. You’re more hostage than passenger. I’m on a bus, he said. And the bus is me.