Tears

1.

I’m lying on my back, left arm stretched straight out. I have a white clip on my index finger, to measure my blood gasses through my fingernail. Blood gasses? What does that mean? Oxygen; maybe carbon dioxide, I guess. The anesthesiologist makes sure my left breast is numb, while the surgeon picks out music. U2 OK? Sure. I’m reminded of watching St. Elsewhere, way back when. An older doctor would play classical music, while the young, hip doctor would listen to classic rock during surgery. Cool, I think, I’ve got a doctor that rocks. The nurse clips a sheet up vertically to separate my head from my body. I can’t see much; the light blueness drapes down on my face, and I feel claustrophobic. The nurse tries to hold the sheet away from my face when she’s not busy with other tasks. She constantly talks to me; reassures me. I feel a tugging, but no pain, as the surgeon cuts and removes a growth that has formed where it shouldn’t have. The tugging seems to last a long time. Finally it’s over. A call to the pathologist is made. I sense rather than see people conferring, hear something about clean margins. It looks malignant, they tell me. We’ll do a biopsy, but it looks like cancer.

Tears swell, break, roll down my cheeks.

2.

I’m lying on my back, left arm stretched straight out. The white clip is back on my finger, doing its thing. The anesthesiologist is pricking my toes, then he pricks my abdomen, to make sure I’m numb. One nurse counts aloud, a second nurse repeats the numbers. There is a rhythm to it, this counting of surgical instruments. Bring dad in, someone says, and there is Ed, by my side. He is wearing mint green scrubs, looking somewhat like that doctor from ER, Dr. Green. He peers over the sheet, hung vertically again, curious yet cautious about what he will see. I feel tugging and pulling on my abdomen. I see blond hair, the doctor informs us. A protesting, indignant wail fills the room as the baby is lifted up. It’s a girl! the doctor exclaims.

Tears burst out of me.

Is she all right? I ask.

She’s fine, Ed says. She’s perfect.

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